Hitoshi Kimura / Komatsu Vietnam JSC
The capital of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Hanoi is a lush green city with nearly a thousand year history. Walking along the main street you will find a cheerful atmosphere with numerous cafés and restaurants. On the banks of Hoan Kiem Lake at the center of the city, couples as well as families enjoy a peaceful break and in the atmosphere of a resort, many European tourists leisurely enjoy their tea.
Hanoi has shrines and temples that suit this ancient Asian capital, but it was also the location of the government-general during the period of French rule, and there are French colonial buildings such as Western-style houses and churches throughout the city. At one time, the newly constructed three-story nine-hundred seat opera house vied for distinction as the largest building in the city.
Over the past decade or so, however, skyscrapers and luxury hotels dozens of stories high have sprung up one after another creating a glimmering image of shiny office buildings. This dazzling new image combined with the traditional tightly concentrated communities of shopping streets and portable food stands—this blending of old with new—is characteristic of Hanoi, and it gives the city its charm. In the midst of ever modernizing Hanoi, women still wear traditional woven hats called Non La and every morning carry daily commodities such as fresh fruits and vegetables to market on a pole, in keeping with tradition, and in turn keeping the charming sights of this city.
The deafening roar of the bustling motorcycles that crowd the streets is overwhelming. There seem to be no rules of the road, and cars as well as motorcycles approach with horns blaring as if to say: “I’m coming, so get out of the way! Get out of the way!” in a crowded and aggressive atmosphere. Two or three people on a motorcycle is a given, and families of four routinely ride with two children or babies between the two parents. Further, it is amazing to see how Vietnamese will carry anything and everything on a motorcycle—from televisions and major appliances to giant potted plants—loads that would even weigh down a car seem to be no problem for them! They just load up the motorcycle and away they go.
Resonating with both Asian power and European longing, Hanoi is a bustling capital, and at the same time there is exotic and nostalgic charm throughout the entire city.
Marubeni Group magazine "M-SPIRIT" VOL.51 (May, 2009)