The Thriving Street Cultures in Vietnam
What are some of your impressions about the country when you are staying here for vacation or internship? The traffic? The food? The pedestrians? Ah hah! Did you realize that they all could be found on streets, and moreover were most interesting when found on streets? As a young person, just making your first steps on your life adventure by doing internship in Vietnam, you will definitely feel the young lively street spirits in big cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. In other words, some of the most appealing Vietnamese youth cultures are ON THE STREETS!
Sick and tired of the crazy “street jam”? Too familiar with the marvelous street food? Knowing the walking streets like the back of your hand? Don’t be upset too soon, as there are always loads of new inspirational activities on Vietnam’s streets!
Ho Chi Minh City – Show Street
The new program, called “Ho Chi Minh City Street Show,” will debut on May 13 before taking place from 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm every Saturday and Sunday night along Nguyen Hue promenade, according to the announcement of the municipal tourism department.
“The weekend shows will not only feature common street arts like magic and singing, but also traditional arts including folk songs and gong dancing,” Bui Ta Hoang Vu, director of the tourism department, said at the program’s opening ceremony.
Six different stages will be erected along the pedestrian street, which connects the city’s edifice with the Bach Dang wharf.
The highlight of the entire program will be a collection of ‘fusion’ performances, combining modern street arts with traditional Vietnamese folk culture. Besides regular performances, the “Ho Chi Minh City Street Show” is also expected to host street art competitions in the ambition of preparing for an international street art festival.
Hanoi – Book Street
Since May 1st, 2017, December 12 Street has become the city reading hub, being home to the stations of sixteen largest publishing houses of the country. The 200-meter street, which connects the major streets of Hai Ba Trung and Ly Thuong Kiet in downtown Hanoi, was formerly the shelter of the ‘underworld market,’ as there is a mass grave of victims killed during wartime at the location on December 12, 1946.
On the Book Street, cafés and stalls are opened for readers to enjoy their newly-bought books while sipping in a little dark coffee or talking with friends. Moreover, on some occasions, the street will also host special activities such as book release events to promote reading culture. Don’t worry to miss any, because the public are always welcomed from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm every day.
To readers’ convenience, there is no lack of facilities or utilities that serve the public at their commands. Not surprisingly, free wi-fi is available all over the street, and at either end of the street are located online information lookup stations available for everyone, in addition to public restrooms that guarantee the best book-exploring experience for visitors. What’s more, the elderly and children are prioritized to have their own certain spaces where they can enjoy their pleasure at their own pace.
The opening of the street means more than commercial and entertaining purposes – it is an initiative in raising the so-called fading reading culture of Vietnamese people. The initiative follows various debates on Vietnam’s slowly fading reading culture, with most Vietnamese now estimated to read only a book a year. The goal is to increase the number of books people read, specifically targeting younger groups of readers, who are believed to be the major force of leaders of the country.
The youth nowadays can gain easy access to almost every type of information, which does not necessarily mean more knowledge of anything. The state of seeing too much information without actually reading and contemplating about it results in the lack of understanding or worse, misunderstanding. This is the fading reading culture we are talking about, together with the transfer in publishing materials – from paper books to e-books. According to Thien Minh – a co-founder of Read Station, the industry is facing the fast-advancing online reading habits that push people to go for online books are cheaper and more digestible.
The publishing houses are also struggling with what to publish, as they have to guarantee their products’ quality both in terms of content and sale potentials. In order for books to be published in Vietnam, they usually have to go through time-consuming copyright, licensing, editing and printing procedures before they reach their target audience, which is another weakness compared to the “fast and furious” electronic publishing. Although having the power to affect readers on what and what not to read, the publishers and writers are discouraged by the fact that quality books once coming out can be easily copied illegally and become online books.
The battle goes on between paper and electronic reading, with no party having the potential to win, as we cannot judge which trend is right or wrong. However, the root of the battle is not about how much to read or by which means to read, but about what to read and with what attitude to read. Therefore, although The Book Street seems to favor the traditional reading culture, it proves to be one effective way to raise awareness of serious reading for true understanding.
So if you are doing internship in Vietnam, stay in Hanoi and enjoy the walking streets with street food, street performances, street books to their best. Then, move to the South for your relaxation with the upcoming professional street shows! (or vice versa ).
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