Take a pause to take in Hanoi



As the rain begins to fall hard outside the small grimy restaurant located down a small side alley in Hanoi's Old Quarter, elderly women selling cheap plastic coats hit the streets, hoping to benefit from those tourists with only a day or two to see the delights of the Vietnamese capital and who are therefore in a hurry to keep moving.

The rest of us, mostly residents and a few relaxed visitors, simply smile knowingly at one another, order another iced coffee and wait out the obligatory 30 minutes or so that the daily afternoon showers last in Hanoi, before returning to the now-glistening streets and beautiful architecture of one of the most atmospheric capitals in Asia.

Hanoi may have been the on-again, off-again capital of Vietnam since 1010 AD, but much of its visible appeal arises from the 50 years it was the capital of French Indochina in the first half of the 20th century and the blending of cultures that occurred at that time.

The French may have left a bitter legacy of heavy-handed governance and an unwillingness to see the end of their colonial rule without bloodshed, but in cultural terms the French gifted the country - especially Hanoi - with striking churches and cathedrals, a vibrant cafe scene and many of the buildings that to this day form the city's Old Quarter - a warren of 36 alleyways that is the heart of Hanoi life and has been since the 13th century. Some of the older buildings remain as they were, including some exquisite guildhalls and temples, but many others were either replaced by French-style buildings or have been strongly influenced in subsequent renovations. Despite this, the layout of the old streets remains. The old quarter also boasts the city's largest market, the temples and major sites that draw in the tourists, and is where the seeds of the communist takeover took root in the guilds and education institutes where new ideas sprouted.

Once humming with the trades the streets are named after - Blacksmith Street (Lo Ren), Incense Street (Hang Huong), Pickled Fish Street (Hang Mam) and Coffin Street (Lo Su) to name but a few, the cramped winding alleyways are where residents and tourists alike stroll around in the evening, relax with friends and dine on fresh Vietnamese food, all among streets towered over by the peeling paint of the pillars and window frames of French villas.

I had spent a year living in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi's southern neighbour, early in the last decade and ever since have regularly engaged in inane but heated debates over which of the two cities is better. While Ho Chi Minh would edge it on vibrancy and development, my Hanoi friends would always pull out their ace - the glorious Old Quarter - to seal their argument.

Arriving by bus from the Chinese border for what would be a four-day stay, the crowded and tightly packed streets of outer Hanoi are abuzz as I enter the city in the early afternoon sun, reminding me of what I used to love about the country, while the roads themselves swarm with motorbikes and scooters that were - and still are - a ubiquitous feature of most Vietnamese cities. Crossing roads in Hanoi is a form of art and more than once I tense up as a motorbike passes just inches in front of me.

Part of Hanoi's charm is in this sense of disorder, and in the pockets of calm you stumble across all over the capital, where the sound of traffic is just a distant murmur. Walking down Hang Bac (Silversmith Street) in the centre of the Old Quarter on my first day, I detour down many of these out-of-the-way lanes, where curious locals glance up as I step around the piles of vegetables strewn in front of them that they are peeling for nearby restaurants. Others smile and take a drag of their cigarettes, waiting patiently for the foreigner to go by.

"Bananas, want bananas?" asks one old lady, heavily laden with fruit hanging in baskets attached to poles around her shoulders. "Lacquer bowls, lacquer bowls," "T-shirts," "authentic Vietnamese food", go other nearby shouts.

Waking up in the morning on my first full day back in the city, I start to remember the subtle tweaks on French imports that enhance Hanoi life. In the square around the striking neo-Gothic St Joseph's Cathedral, first opened for worship in the 1880s, swanky urbanites sit out under the sun, drinking coffee and chain-smoking. Only, rather than fancy Parisian brands, they are smoking cheap Vietnamese cigarettes and drinking thick but delicious Vietnamese iced coffees that remain black even after the inclusion of milk.

Vietnamese breakfasts are simple affairs, generally comprising a French baguette stuffed with an omelette and meat, bought from old women on the streets for less than a dollar. Evening meals are the main social time and the restaurants and bars around Hang Bac street are filled with loud voices and hungry customers. I fill my time between eating and coffee with endless walking.

The buildings of the Old Quarter are often camouflaged with workaday ground floors so it occasionally comes as a shock when my eyes rise from the knockoff T-shirt stores to the two- or three-storey buildings towering above me. The elegant facades, with wooden shutters, elaborate wrought iron and balconies often overflowing with plants, seem to hark back to colonial times.

On the south-east side of Hoan Kiem Lake, the beautifully preserved opera house and renovated Hotel Metropole epitomise this time of foreign rule when Hanoi was the Paris of Vietnam and a playground for colonists rich in the rice, rubber and opium trades.

While the colonial-era buildings, with their overhanging bay windows and high, sloping roofs, are a key part of the character of the area, the ornate Vietnamese tube houses, which seem like they have been squashed in a vice (the legacy of a taxation policy that focused on the width of property fronts and led to the thin but deep building style) are equally important to Hanoi's Old Quarter. On Ma May and neighbouring streets, it's possible to visit some of the larger wooden structures, which, despite their deceptively small entrances, extend several rooms backwards and would have been the homes and places of work for generations of Vietnamese traders, artisans and businessmen.

In the Old Quarter, the pace of the city quickens as the day goes on, and relaxing afternoons turn into lively evenings as restaurants explode into the streets, with large woks of fried rice and small plastic tables and chairs jammed full of hungry or thirsty residents and foreigners. Small stalls appear at the corner of Ta Hien and Luong Ngoc Quyen, where people cluster around for drinks,enjoying themselves in an alfresco way that I am sure the French would still approve.

Days pass and, as I get ready to hop on a bus to leave the city, I remember what a friend of mine who had lived in the city once told me - that after moving away from Hanoi he wrote a lot less poetry; the city just sort of forced him to write. I had been too busy relaxing to write, but I could certainly understand his nostalgia for the place.

If You Go

The flight Return flights with Emirates (www.emirates.com) from Dubai to Hanoi via Bangkok or Singapore cost from Dh9,200, including taxes

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Indika

Developer: 11 Bit Studios
Publisher: Odd Meter
Console: PlayStation 5, PC and Xbox series X/S
Rating: 4/5

The specs

BMW M8 Competition Coupe

Engine 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8

Power 625hp at 6,000rpm

Torque 750Nm from 1,800-5,800rpm

Gearbox Eight-speed paddleshift auto

Acceleration 0-100kph in 3.2 sec

Top speed 305kph

Fuel economy, combined 10.6L / 100km

Price from Dh700,000 (estimate)

On sale Jan/Feb 2020
 

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

The specs: 2018 Renault Koleos

Price, base: From Dh77,900
Engine: 2.5L, in-line four-cylinder
Transmission: Continuously variable transmission
Power: 170hp @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 233Nm @ 4,000rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 8.3L / 100km

Kandahar

Director: Ric Roman Waugh

Stars: Gerard Butler, Navid Negahban, Ali Fazal

Rating: 2.5/5

Wydad 2 Urawa 3

Wydad Nahiri 21’, Hajhouj 90'

Urawa Antonio 18’, 60’, Kashiwagi 26’

How will Gen Alpha invest?

Mark Chahwan, co-founder and chief executive of robo-advisory firm Sarwa, forecasts that Generation Alpha (born between 2010 and 2024) will start investing in their teenage years and therefore benefit from compound interest.

“Technology and education should be the main drivers to make this happen, whether it’s investing in a few clicks or their schools/parents stepping up their personal finance education skills,” he adds.

Mr Chahwan says younger generations have a higher capacity to take on risk, but for some their appetite can be more cautious because they are investing for the first time. “Schools still do not teach personal finance and stock market investing, so a lot of the learning journey can feel daunting and intimidating,” he says.

He advises millennials to not always start with an aggressive portfolio even if they can afford to take risks. “We always advise to work your way up to your risk capacity, that way you experience volatility and get used to it. Given the higher risk capacity for the younger generations, stocks are a favourite,” says Mr Chahwan.

Highlighting the role technology has played in encouraging millennials and Gen Z to invest, he says: “They were often excluded, but with lower account minimums ... a customer with $1,000 [Dh3,672] in their account has their money working for them just as hard as the portfolio of a high get-worth individual.”

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

Indoor cricket in a nutshell

Indoor Cricket World Cup - Sep 16-20, Insportz, Dubai

16 Indoor cricket matches are 16 overs per side

8 There are eight players per team

9 There have been nine Indoor Cricket World Cups for men. Australia have won every one.

5 Five runs are deducted from the score when a wickets falls

4 Batsmen bat in pairs, facing four overs per partnership

Scoring In indoor cricket, runs are scored by way of both physical and bonus runs. Physical runs are scored by both batsmen completing a run from one crease to the other. Bonus runs are scored when the ball hits a net in different zones, but only when at least one physical run is score.

Zones

A Front net, behind the striker and wicketkeeper: 0 runs

B Side nets, between the striker and halfway down the pitch: 1 run

C Side nets between halfway and the bowlers end: 2 runs

D Back net: 4 runs on the bounce, 6 runs on the full

Company Profile

Name: Raha
Started: 2022
Based: Kuwait/Saudi
Industry: Tech Logistics
Funding: $14 million
Investors: Soor Capital, eWTP Arabia Capital, Aujan Enterprises, Nox Management, Cedar Mundi Ventures
Number of employees: 166

Mina Cup winners

Under 12 – Minerva Academy

Under 14 – Unam Pumas

Under 16 – Fursan Hispania

Under 18 – Madenat

Most wanted allegations
  • Benjamin Macann, 32: involvement in cocaine smuggling gang.
  • Jack Mayle, 30: sold drugs from a phone line called the Flavour Quest.
  • Callum Halpin, 27: over the 2018 murder of a rival drug dealer. 
  • Asim Naveed, 29: accused of being the leader of a gang that imported cocaine.
  • Calvin Parris, 32: accused of buying cocaine from Naveed and selling it on.
  • John James Jones, 31: allegedly stabbed two people causing serious injuries.
  • Callum Michael Allan, 23: alleged drug dealing and assaulting an emergency worker.
  • Dean Garforth, 29: part of a crime gang that sold drugs and guns.
  • Joshua Dillon Hendry, 30: accused of trafficking heroin and crack cocain. 
  • Mark Francis Roberts, 28: grievous bodily harm after a bungled attempt to steal a+£60,000 watch.
  • James+‘Jamie’ Stevenson, 56: for arson and over the seizure of a tonne of cocaine.
  • Nana Oppong, 41: shot a man eight times in a suspected gangland reprisal attack. 
Our legal consultants

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Dengue fever symptoms
  • High fever
  • Intense pain behind your eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash

If symptoms occur, they usually last for two-seven days

Why does a queen bee feast only on royal jelly?

Some facts about bees:

The queen bee eats only royal jelly, an extraordinary food created by worker bees so she lives much longer

The life cycle of a worker bee is from 40-60 days

A queen bee lives for 3-5 years

This allows her to lay millions of eggs and allows the continuity of the bee colony

About 20,000 honey bees and one queen populate each hive

Honey is packed with vital vitamins, minerals, enzymes, water and anti-oxidants.

Apart from honey, five other products are royal jelly, the special food bees feed their queen 

Pollen is their protein source, a super food that is nutritious, rich in amino acids

Beewax is used to construct the combs. Due to its anti-fungal, anti-bacterial elements, it is used in skin treatments

Propolis, a resin-like material produced by bees is used to make hives. It has natural antibiotic qualities so works to sterilize hive,  protects from disease, keeps their home free from germs. Also used to treat sores, infection, warts

Bee venom is used by bees to protect themselves. Has anti-inflammatory properties, sometimes used to relieve conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, nerve and muscle pain

Honey, royal jelly, pollen have health enhancing qualities

The other three products are used for therapeutic purposes

Is beekeeping dangerous?

As long as you deal with bees gently, you will be safe, says Mohammed Al Najeh, who has worked with bees since he was a boy.

“The biggest mistake people make is they panic when they see a bee. They are small but smart creatures. If you move your hand quickly to hit the bees, this is an aggressive action and bees will defend themselves. They can sense the adrenalin in our body. But if we are calm, they are move away.”

 

 

Company profile

Company name: Shipsy
Year of inception: 2015
Founders: Soham Chokshi, Dhruv Agrawal, Harsh Kumar and Himanshu Gupta
Based: India, UAE and Indonesia
Sector: logistics
Size: more than 350 employees
Funding received so far: $31 million in series A and B rounds
Investors: Info Edge, Sequoia Capital’s Surge, A91 Partners and Z3 Partners

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

Naga

Director: Meshal Al Jaser

Starring: Adwa Bader, Yazeed Almajyul, Khalid Bin Shaddad

Rating: 4/5

Previous men's records
  • 2:01:39: Eliud Kipchoge (KEN) on 16/9/19 in Berlin
  • 2:02:57: Dennis Kimetto (KEN) on 28/09/2014 in Berlin
  • 2:03:23: Wilson Kipsang (KEN) on 29/09/2013 in Berlin
  • 2:03:38: Patrick Makau (KEN) on 25/09/2011 in Berlin
  • 2:03:59: Haile Gebreselassie (ETH) on 28/09/2008 in Berlin
  • 2:04:26: Haile Gebreselassie (ETH) on 30/09/2007 in Berlin
  • 2:04:55: Paul Tergat (KEN) on 28/09/2003 in Berlin
  • 2:05:38: Khalid Khannouchi (USA) 14/04/2002 in London
  • 2:05:42: Khalid Khannouchi (USA) 24/10/1999 in Chicago
  • 2:06:05: Ronaldo da Costa (BRA) 20/09/1998 in Berlin

Essentials
The flights

Return flights from Dubai to Windhoek, with a combination of Emirates and Air Namibia, cost from US$790 (Dh2,902) via Johannesburg.
The trip
A 10-day self-drive in Namibia staying at a combination of the safari camps mentioned – Okonjima AfriCat, Little Kulala, Desert Rhino/Damaraland, Ongava – costs from $7,000 (Dh25,711) per person, including car hire (Toyota 4x4 or similar), but excluding international flights, with The Luxury Safari Company.
When to go
The cooler winter months, from June to September, are best, especially for game viewing.