Residents eschew travel, enjoy holiday in big cities

 Residents choosing to stay put in Hanoi and HCMC during the Hung Kings commemoration holiday are enjoying the relaxed ambience without the usual hustle and bustle.

On the day of the holiday, April 10, Hanoi residents enjoyed a later than usual start to the day. As late as 9 a.m, many downtown streets were deserted, with little traffic. Some residents remarked that it felt like Tet, when millions of migrants have returned to their hometown.

With the weather not too hot, many people enjoyed the walking streets surrounding the Hoan Kiem Lake to relax and enjoy the breeze. Nguyen Thanh Hieu from Ngoc Ha Street in Ba Dinh District decided to reward herself with a relaxing holiday, going to the old town to have breakfast and take a walk around the lake.

She said she wanted to experience the holiday atmosphere in Hanoi itself, she said. "The weather is cool, everyone is relaxing and enjoying the space that is not crowded.

"I also want to be with my parents during this holiday. It is difficult to take my elderly parents on a trip because the Covid-19 situation is still complicated."

With families out with their children, those who make the popular To He toys, colored flour figurines on a stick, did reasonably brisk business. For VND20,000 (less than US$1) per toy, customers have a wide choice of figurines ranging from Spider-Man to dinosaurs and Cinderellas.

Since the holiday coincided with Palm Sunday for Catholics, the areas around the Hanoi Cathedral and Ham Long church was more crowded than usual. The cathedral is currently being renovated, but people flocked to enjoy its architectural features from the outside.

Many cafés in prime locations were packed with people sitting and chatting away for hours together.

Trung Thai, 23, went to Trieu Viet Vuong Street to enjoy a cup of brown iced coffee and munch on sunflower seeds.

"It's been a long time since I had a relaxing morning and found Hanoi so peaceful and slow. Staying in Hanoi instead of traveling was the right decision," he said.

Center of attraction

In HCMC, large numbers of people celebrated the holiday in the city center. From around 9 a.m., many young people flocked to shops next to the Central Post Office and Nguyen Van Binh Book Street (District 1) to drink coffee or other beverage, chat and nibble at snacks.

The book street attracted many families with children, young people as well as foreigners. The sight of children engrossed in comics was a common one in many shops.

Although it is under a long-time renovation project, the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon still attracted many visitors to take pictures of and with the Virgin Mary statue.

For many visitors to Saigon, the public bicycle rental service has become a popular draw. The fixed price is VND5,000 per 30 minutes and it remained the same on the holiday.

Duong Vo Nhan and a group of friends decided to cycle around the city on all three days of the holiday.

"This activity is both good for our health and gives us the opportunity to see the beauty of the city up close," Nhan said.

Another popular place to spend time during the holiday is the Bach Dang wharf area, which has several open cafes to sit in and enjoy watching the Sai Gon River.

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