wet markets of hà nội

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Today, I sat down to look at this news story again. It discusses the disastrous 21st century renovation of a number of Hà Nội’s wet markets.

Hà Nội’s Municipal People’s Committee has admitted defeat in its attempts to drive traditional wet markets into purpose built modern facilities.

The authorities planned to convert,

39, often historically significant, markets into modern trading centres, of 132 markets by 2020.

So far, three markets have been “fully converted”. Some of those markets have remained “unused”. Others, have seen a “huge fall” in the number of customers.

According to Nguyen Ngoc Tuan, Deputy Chairman of the Hanoi Municipal People’s Committee, the strategy to convert wet markets into modern trading centres had been ‘halted’. However, he claimed the city would continue renovating and keeping wet markets in the basements of other traditional markets.

In the short term, Nga Tu So, Chau Long and Thanh Cong markets will be not squeezed into ill-suited trading centres, but will instead be renovated based on their current model.

I was going to slightly edit the final chapter in my book to reflect this news item, but on second reading I don’t think there’s anything I need to change. And the traders in these renovated markets are certainly not happy,

(Market trader) Son added that her sales at the new venue are only 10-20 percent compared to the old market.

“I received no customers after spending the whole day in that basement, so I decided to quit,” Nguyen Thi Vinh, who used to sell green produce at Cua Nam (market), said. link

And, it’s not much better further south,

The 23-year-old Han Market is expected to give way to a 26-story trade center; while the Con Market, constructed during the French colonial period, will be replaced by a 13,500-square-meter trade zone, the municipal Department of Construction announced on August 29. The demolition plans will affect around 1,000 small traders, who will be relocated to temporary markets while the new structures are built. link

In addition, this story from September, 2014, does not fill me with confidence that the planners have a clue as to what they’re doing.

At a recent conference, Hanoi’s authorities announced a plan to build a network of wholesale and retail markets in the capital city by 2020 with a vision toward 2030. According to the Hanoi People’s Committee, the city will build 23 large supermarkets; 42 trade centres and 595 markets.

However, economists have voiced concerns… Dr. Dang Dinh Dao, former head of the Institute of Economic Research and Development, under National Economics University, said that raising the number of supermarkets from 100 now to 1,000 in the next five years is too ambitious considering the city’s current limited infrastructure condition. link

I could go on, but the crux of it is – there’s nothing I need to change in the final chapter of my book.

Photo by me (and not of a market)

illustrator works

Yuko Shimizu, whose illustration accompanies the review of Haruki Murakami’s novel “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” on the cover of the (New York Times) Book Review, explains her process. link

Shimizu’s blog is fantastic. Just the kind of blog posts I like. Insightful, informative and personal. There are a tonne of posts on how she finds inspiration for her work, on her work process itself and even on “the most complicated piece I would ever end up working on”. Reading her entries, I was also struck by how many parallels the illustrator’s process has with the writer’s process. Recommended.

murakami_book_review

utter failures

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Just when you think it’s all over, it might not be. This bit of news about the utterly disastrous development destruction of Hà Nội’s wet markets over the past decade or more may just mean I have to make a few adjustments to one chapter. It’s good news for Hà Nội, although way too late in the day to save several of the capital city’s markets.

Hanoi authorities admit defeat on relocating historic markets

VietNamNet Bridge – In the face of widespread opposition from both local residents and traders, the Hanoi Municipal People’s Committee has admitted defeat in its attempts to drive traditional wet markets into purpose built modern facilities.

According to its now ditched plan, the Hanoi authorities intended to convert 39, often historically significant, markets into modern trading centres, of 132 markets by 2020.

So far, Cua Nam, Hang Da, and Mo markets have already been fully converted, while a range of others have been ear-marked for conversion, such as Thanh Cong in Dong Da District, Chau Long and Ngoc Ha in Ba Dinh District, as well as Truong Dinh in Hai Ba Trung District.

The Hanoi authorities claimed the new markets would provide a cleaner environment and benefit food quality. The authorities also claimed the wet markets often illegally occupied roads, causing congestion and pollution.

However the first converted markets proved utter failures in attracting buyers. Hang Da, Mo, and Cua Nam have seen a huge fall off in customers due to their inconvenient access.

Many markets in Hanoi have been left empty after being transformed into market centres. For example, Hoang Mai District’s Den Lu market and Dong Anh District’s Hai Boi market have remained unused for many years due to unsuitable venues and design.

In Hang Da market, its investor even had to close the market for the second time in recent years to renovate the venue in order to keep the wet market in the basement of the current modern trading centre.

According to Nguyen Ngoc Tuan, Deputy Chairman of the Hanoi Municipal People’s Committee, the strategy to convert wet markets into modern trading centres had been ‘halted’. However, he claimed the city would continue renovating and keeping wet markets in the basements of other traditional markets.

In the short term, Nga Tu So, Chau Long and Thanh Cong markets will be not squeezed into ill-suited trading centres, but will instead be renovated based on their current model.

In its plan to develop a supermarket system by 2020 with a vision towards 2030, Hanoi will have 1,000 supermarkets and more than 60 shopping centres. link via stickyrice.

rough book

my working copy of eating vietnam dispatches from a blue plastic table is looking rougher and rougher by the day

The working copy of the galley of my book looks pretty rough by now. However, I won’t have to open the pages of this version ever again. This is heading for storage.

the way they degrade

old vinyl LPs and singles on a shelf

“More than one million vinyl records have been sold in the UK so far this year” reads the headline. While there are many reasons why this is the case – read the article – for me, these three are key,

“Some records, I like the way they degrade. It’s like a photograph fading, it’s part of the whole beauty of vinyl.” [said Nigel House, co-founder of the Rough Trade retail chain]

Mr Castaldo from the BPI agreed. “The difference between vinyl and other formats is that it’s viewed as an art form, really – the audio quality, the sleevenotes, the cover art.

“Whilst other formats are being superseded every time technology improves, vinyl doesn’t really fit into that category because it’s more than that.” link

a row of old tape cassettes of gigs by Spacemen3

Blogs are a bit like the vinyl of the Internet, certainly of the social media world. Or maybe they’re just the tape cassette of it.

Photos by me and me again.

the graham greene trilogy

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Little viewed on YouTube, there is a series filmed in 1993, by the BBC Arena programme (complete with Brian Eno intro music) about the life of the author Graham Greene. If you have ever enjoyed his books, the series is well worth a watch. Of Greene’s years as an Mi6 station officer in Sierra Leone, which he based his 1948 novel The Heart of the Matter on, his former boss said,

“I don’t think Graham was God’s own gift to the secret service. On the other hand, I do think that the secret service’s great gift to English literature was to post Graham to Freetown… He was basically someone who was fascinated by the bizarre and bored of the routine.” Nicholas Elliott, former Director Mi6.

There is a description of the TV series on the Doku.Arts site,

Produced after Graham Greene died in 1991, this trilogy sheds light on Greene’s secret world, where the characters are typified by morbid obsession: weak men, traitors, hypocrites, failures. In the film, the cast of characters includes Kim Philpy talking about his time with Greene in the Secret Service, Greene’s contemporaries John le Carré and Anthony Burgess, his wife Vivien, his mistress Jocelyn Rickards and the secretive Yvonne Cloetta, his companion for the last thirty years of his life. Greene’s work is read by Sir Alec Guiness and narrated by Robert Powell. link

Here are the links to each part of the series,

England made me part 1

England made me part 2

England made me part 3

England made me part 4

A dangerous edge part 1

A dangerous edge part 2

A dangerous edge part 3

A dangerous edge part 4

A world of my own part 1

A world of my own part 2

A world of my own part 3

A world of my own part 4

The other Graham Greene

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cosmic comet song

Rosetta’s Plasma Consortium (RPC) has uncovered a mysterious ‘song’ that Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is singing into space. The comet seems to be emitting a ‘song’ in the form of oscillations in the magnetic field in the comet’s environment. It is being sung at 40-50 millihertz, far below human hearing, which typically picks up sound between 20 Hz and 20 kHz. To make the music audible to the human ear, the frequencies have been increased in this recording. Thumbnail image credit: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0 link

And, for contrast purposes, here is the soundtrack, composed by João Martinho Moura, for the European Space Agency (ESA) Rosetta visualization app.