An Ambassador to the Global Kite World: Meeting Mr. Be, Vietnamese Grandmaster

Ben Ruhe
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The most renowned Vietnamese kitemaker, based among other reasons on the number of overseas festivals he has attended (nine in France alone), is Nguyen Van Be (pronounced N’whin Van Bay).

Mr. Be, as his is widely known, lives in the ancient capital of Hue, halfway between Hanoi on the north and Saigon on the south. Most Westerners remember Hue from the Tet offensive in early l968 when 10,000 were killed, including 500 U.S. Marines.

Although he speaks no English, Mr. Be has an efficient translator in Nguyen Huu Thai, a young government cultural affairs officer, and it is Mr. Thai who takes visiting Westerners to see the kitemaker in his rather impoverished home, beside the Perfume River that bisects the city.

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