Friday, October 1, 2010

Hanoi 1000 year celebrations

Hanoi is officially in party mode. Today starts the 10 day celebrations for Hanoi's 1000th year, finishing on October the 10th. Lý Thái Tổ, an empereror back in the day, moved the capital to Hanoi in 1010. Hanoi, and Vietnam in general, have experienced a lot over the years and definitely deserves a party.

So far from what I have seen, lights have been put up throughout the city, mainly on Dien Bien Phu Street and between West and Truc Back Lake. The lights are a big attraction at night and the streets are packed. A lot of work has gone into Ba Dinh square, in front of the HCM Mausoleum, where many of the celebrations will take place. Traditional performances occur on stages on the side of the road; I passed one on my way home from work with about 100 motorbikes stopped, watching on.

Without being the Scrooge of the party I have to say the traffic is a nightmare. When there is a party of any kind the Vietnamese take to the streets in their masses. Driving to and from work, which happens to be where most of the decorations are, is constant grid lock. There is never much organisation of the traffic, despite seeing many more policeman on the road. If the Vietnamese want to stop, they will, even if it is in the middle of the road. Taking the traditional performance as an example; the 100 odd bikes that had all stopped were still on the road meaning everyone else had to ride around them, taking a two lane road down to less than half a lane. Traffic slowed to a virtual stop and we crawled for 5 minutes until past the performance.

I look forward to the celebrations and many people are excited about it but I definitely don't look forward to the frustrations of my daily pilgrimage to and from work.

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