Time stands still for giant Swiss clock gifted to Hanoi

By Hoang Phuong   January 18, 2020 | 06:17 pm PT
Time stands still for giant Swiss clock gifted to Hanoi
A clock gifted to Hanoi by Swiss city of Bern back in 2010 has not been operating for years. Photo by VnExpress/Tran Quang
A giant clock worth $20,000 gifted to Hanoi as a millennium anniversary gift in 2010 has neither ticked nor tocked for years.

Hanoi received the clock, which has a diameter of 13 meters and a height of 1.8 meters, from the Swiss city of Bern on the occasion of its millennial anniversary celebration in 2010.

The anniversary marked the foundation of the capital, initially called Thang Long, by emperor Ly Thai To.

The clock was installed at a prime location in the capital city, the banks of the iconic Hoan Kiem Lake. An electricity supply post was erected about 20 meters away. However, the authorities failed to provide any information about the clock to the public and visitors. There are no signs informing people about who had gifted the clock, the occasion or how it functions.

Worse still, no one seems to remember the clock ticking. Again, there has been no information provided on when and why it stopped.

Cuong, a photographer who works in the Sword Lake ward, said he has not seen the clock ticking in years.

"I wonder who is in charge of operating this clock and why they left it like this.

"Many tourists to the lake even think that this is just some clock model," he said.

Cuong also thinks the clock has not been installed in an ideal place. There are certain places from where it is not clear what the object is, and others from where a good view of the lake is blocked, he said.

The clock seen from Hang Khay Street. Photo by VnExpress/Tran Quang

The clock seen from Hang Khay Street. Photo by VnExpress/Tran Quang

Associate Professor Ha Dinh Duc, an expert on Hanoi and Sword Lake in particular, said the clock "has not been running for quite a while."

He himself had suggested moving it to another location so that people could easily see it, but he has not received any feedback from the city authorities.

In 2017, the city had assigned Hoan Kiem District to work on a plan to relocate the clock, but nothing seems to have happened since.

Trinh Hoang Tung, a senior district official, said the plan to relocate the clock was part of a project to renovate the area around the lake. The new location being considered is at the junction of Le Thai To and Hang Trong streets, which would give it a wider space and give it greater visibility.

But the district will have to wait for approval from higher authorities to move the clock, Tung said.

He also said that the relocation "would not be easy because the district does not understand the technique of the clock." The Hanoi Department for Foreign Affairs will have to work with the Embassy of Switzerland in Hanoi and seek help from Swiss engineers, he added, without elaborating.

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