A few minutes walking on Hanoi’s streets and you’ll work out that as a pedestrian, you enjoy no privileges. Even footpaths aren’t sacred. Motorcyclists will charge furiously towards you demanding you submit, in the place most cities reserve for walkers. The same happens in Saigon. Don’t despair though. Get out of the Old Quarter after a mandatory stroll, and head to Ba Dinh Square area or the French Quarter. You’ll find the walking far more agreeable - and the architecture and street scenes are amazing too. The city is simultaneously deeply hostile, and rewarding, as a place for walking. While Hanoians wear their contempt for pedestrians as a badge of honour, their city government has been making some impressive leaps forward in favour of walkers. First they declared parts of the Old Quarter off-limits to motorised vehicles on weekend nights. More recently, the streets around Hoan Kiem Lake have been closed off on weekends as well. We love it. One of the most heart-warming moments from our recent stint in pre-Tet Hanoi, was meeting these two delightful old fellas, taking an afternoon walk, hand in hand, around Hoan Kiem Lake. The visibility of the elderly in Hanoi is one of the city's eternal delights. And these guys were charmers. Need you see any other justification for the decision to block these streets in favour of walkers? Happy New Year everyone and thanks for your support! Chuc Mung Nam Moi!
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