Life-long love for Hanoi

Last update: 19:00 | 11/10/2017

The capital city of Hanoi is well on its way to becoming a modern metropolis. Throughout the historical course of development from autumn 1010 to the historic year 1954, and over the past 30 years of Doi Moi (Renewal) process, the long-standing culture of Hanoi is a treasure of many generations of Hanoians, who have strived to preserve and nurture the cultural values of the city.


Veteran culturist Huu Ngoc (middle) receives the Grand Prize at the ceremony held in Hanoi on August 17, 2017 (Photo:

Cultural researcher Huu Ngoc was born into a family in Hanoi with a rich tradition of Confucianism. 

However, when he grew up he was significantly affected by Western culture and is fluent in many foreign languages. 

Working in a number of jobs relevant to culture, Ngoc contends that cultural exchange in today’s life is a multi-dimensional interaction among countries which has posed certain challenges in preserving a traditional and authentic cultural essence.

On the other hand, he recognises that cultural exchange also provides a good opportunity for promoting the country’s cultural charm. 

Therefore, he has tried to take advantage of every opportunity to advertise Vietnam’s cultural beauty through his talks, books and articles.

In 1997, he released a book entitled ‘A Sketch of Vietnamese Culture’ in French and in English. 

The book provides readers with a full coverage of the capital Hanoi through introductions of its streets, cuisine and customs. 

‘A Sketch of Vietnamese Culture’ was given by the Vietnamese Government as a special present to the heads of state at the 7th Francophone Meeting in Hanoi in 1997.

Another of Ngoc’s books which is considered as a hand-book on Hanoi is ‘Hanoi, Who are you?’ 

Each volume of the book introduces readers to a different aspect of Hanoi, such as history, Hanoi’s Old Quarter, cuisines, the name of Hanoi’s streets, culture and arts, and education. The book has met the need of foreign visitors to Hanoi. 

Released in English, the book is highly valued by readers for its elegant language and flowing expressions.

Ngoc has also authored a number of books on popularising Hanoi’s culture among world readers, such as ‘Portrait of Hanoi, the 1000-year-old Dragon City’, and “My Hanoi.’ 

Now when he is about to turn 100 years old, Ngoc has drafted a new book collecting his articles which had been published in German magazines.

For his whole-hearted contributions to the capital, Ngoc was honoured the 2017 ‘Bui Xuan Phai – For the Love of Hanoi’ awards, following researcher Vu Tuan San, Professor Phan Huy Len, Hanoiologist Nguyen Vinh Phuc, and photographer Le Vuong, who were previous winners of the prestigious prize.

Through its ten editions, the ‘Bui Xuan Phai – For the Love of Hanoi’ awards have recognised the dedication of Vietnamese people and foreigners who share their love for Hanoi and have worked out many initiatives to improve the image of the capital city. 

The awards include four sub awards which include the Grand prize, Best Idea, Best Job and Best Artwork prizes.

In addition to honouring veteran scholars and good-will foreigners who have shared a common love for Hanoi, the awards have been also given to youngsters, including #D Hanoi, a group of of youngsters who have revived Hanoi’s architectural constructions of the past with 3D technology, Hanoi Lovers and who joined hands in a project to capture Hanoi from above, and Hanoikids – a group of volunteers who provide free tour guides for foreigners in Hanoi.


Members of My Hanoi group instructing children to make star-shaped lanterns - popular folk toys at Mid-autumn festival.

Although they haven’t received any award, members of My Hanoi, a group of youngsters in Hanoi, have made significant contributions to preserving the culture of the city over the past decade. 

The group was founded by Ngo Quy Duc, a Hanoi-born young man who is studying technology. Being aware of the lack of documents on Hanoi in the internet, Duc and his friends launched an online library on Hanoi in 2006.

The group now has 50 permanent members, and has attracted hundreds of online volunteers. 

As the Internet has robustly developed in Vietnam, the group has expanded its operation into various activities such as collecting information on traditional festivals in villages around West Lake, creating green space in the city, helping children learn more about the city’s traditional arts and folk games.

The group is also the developer of a project to create a space for folk games around Hoan Kiem (Sword) Lake during weekends, which invite visitors to take part in exciting games such as rope skipping, blind man's buff, and tug of war.

In June 2017, My Hanoi inaugurated a space for a Hanoi cultural exchange at 32 Vong Thi Street, Tay Ho district, which is designed to host displays, exhibitions of Hanoi’s traditional handicraft products and books about Hanoi as well as meetings and performances of folk arts forms. 

To date, the space has successfully hosted a workshop on the making of bamboo and rattan products, an exchange with artisans from villages making traditional toys for Mid-autumn festival, and a musical show by classical guitarists.

The love for Hanoi has been nurtured and passed down from the old to younger generations of the city’s dwellers, who have utilised advanced technology to advertise Hanoi through websites and forums. 

Their work has significantly contributed to preserving and developing the time-honoured cultural essence of the capital city.

Nhan Dan

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