By a totally unexpected coincidence, today(*) is a major national holiday in Vietnam. Usually I’m pretty on top of these kinds of things, but because I’ve been so focused on work and planning for my dad’s visit it somehow slipped by me completely. If I hadn’t gone out to visit Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum this afternoon I likely would never have known.
Internationally, April 30th is known as the Fall of Saigon – though that term is apparently considered treasonous by many in present-day Vietnam. Domestically it’s known as Liberation Day.
I guess that would explain the live dance performances and jubilant locals I passed on my way to the supermarket yesterday evening 🙂
So although I’d planned to work right up till my dad’s arrival, I figured I better take advantage of the holiday (and my only Saturday in town). I set aside my code and started researching where to go. This is when I first realized that nightlife in Hanoi is shockingly nonexistent, ever since a crackdown by the “anti-fun police” just a few years back (as described in my recent observations post). Still, I did manage to turn up a few potential spots – so I made a quick list, messaged Maartje (the Dutch traveler I’d met at the mausoleum), and headed down to the lake.
It was wonderfully active. People were out in the thousands, street vendors selling popsicles, families picnicking, children rollerblading, and everyone having a good time.
I did a full loop of the area before taking a spot at a big stage by the Northern end where there were performances of music, juggling, trapeze, and acrobatics.
(Funny observation: although some spectators were standing, the vast majority had just stopped on their scooters to watch. Within less than an hour such a massive crowd had formed that the multi-lane boulevard was blocked off completely – by scooters just hanging out in the middle of the road :P)
Then when Maartje arrived we headed up to Bia Hoi Junction.
Hanoi nightlife, here I come!
*Note: These posts are behind realtime; the above took place on Saturday, April 30th.