Perfume River has new fragrance these days


HUE, Vietnam — The Huong ("Perfume River") was named for the tropical scent it brought down from the mountains as it meandered past the Old Imperial city of Hue.

These days, dredged heavily for sand to make concrete and largely cleared of its houseboats, the river has lost not only its mystical fragrance but also much of the life and color that made it famous.

Urban and industrial developments in the basin have worsened the region’s already fragile environment, jeopardizing livelihoods and agriculture along the river.

Local governments struggle to balance regional development with environmental protection.

Meanwhile, the boat communities that once inhabited the river in picturesque clusters are disappearing.