7 million people live in Hanoi and 5 million scooters ferry them about. It’s a city of marvels in many ways but the scooters block that out.
Traffic is banned banned from Hoan Kiem Lake from 7pm Friday through the weekend, allowing a haven in the middle of the old quarter. That temporary banning suggests some will is there to have a breathable city.
We travelled south, for a sampan journey along the quiet Ninh Coc River. The river winds through the bulbous hillsides of Karst, limestone upheavals from seabeds of millions of years ago. Running south from Hanoi, the Truong Yen Mountains form a vivid jagged line over to the west. The limestone range runs for 300km. Almost all of it, it seemed, is being actively quarried up to its summits. It’s painful to witness. Cement factories are even squeezed next to great hill forms on the edge of heritage areas.