Sakura festival: After greedy and rambunctious crowds destroyed the Sakura festival in Hanoi last year (people liked the cherry blossoms so much they ripped them off the ‘exhibit-style- structure’ and took them home) security was mucho tight this year: 500 police were assigned to protect the Japanese branches, which are imported from Nippon for the occasion. According to one local person who read a local news source that interviewed a local person (you can count on us to have this story COMPLETELY factually correct) when eagle-eyed police spotted one man reaching out to touch the branch they promptly descended on the scene and frogmarched him away to a) give him a right old ear-bashing or b) remove him from the exhibition centre or c) both. It was only when they’d dragged the poor man away from the exhibit did someone realise he was blind (photos of him here) and had been touching the blossoms as… well, you know he couldn’t see them. It’s also rumoured – crowds had complained that the cherry blossoms weren’t as đẹp lắm this year – that in fact for the first three days of the four day festival the cherry blossoms on display were fake.
Ride your pony: If you fancy a flutter on the gee-gees in Vietnam, pack your Ascot hat and try the Bac Ha races in May
Old Quarter’s lure: Locally based photo-man Aaron Joel Santos has a slide-show on the Old Quarter at the Wall Street journal for this article, which mentions some of the more quirky trades in the district, including the shops selling votive offerings to make sure your dearly departed ancestors are having the life of the nouveau riche Reilly in the underworld: automatic scooters, SUVs, Flat-screen TVs, luxury villas and the like. Frankly I think these shops should be pushing the bicycles and solar panels rather than the automated vehicles and electronic goods: I mean DOES nobody think about their ancestor’s carbon footprint in the afterlife? Shame on ye.