Hanoi's historic water tower poorly managed: visitors

By Quynh Mai   November 25, 2023 | 02:43 am PT
As tourists flock to explore Hanoi's newly accessible Hang Dau Water Tower, a wave of negative feedback expresses frustration over the brief 5-minute visitation time.

The cylindrical Hang Dau Water Tower is now open to the public for the first time, featuring an architect-designed art space with creative sound and light installations.

Built in 1894, it stands in a square formed by Hang Than, Hang Luoc, Hang Giay, Hang Dau, Quan Thanh and Phan Dinh Phung Streets.

The tower, some 25 meters high and with a pointed roof, represents early instances of urban development in Hanoi. In the 1960s, advancements at the Yen Phu Water Plant made Hang Dau Water Tower’s initial function unnecessary. Consequently, there were changes in how clean water was distributed across the city and the tower stopped serving as a water supplier.

Admission to the tower is free from Nov. 17 to Dec. 31, as part of the Hanoi Creative Design Festival 2023, organized by the Hanoi People's Committee and the Vietnam Association of Architects.

Inside the booth, visitors are immersed in the sound of falling water drops and can marvel at colorful "lotus leaves," repurposed from recycled plastic waste.

However, concerns have been raised about the efficiency of the visitor experience.

On the morning of Nov. 23, 30 minutes before the scheduled opening time, more than 20 individuals formed a line in the park on Quan Thanh Street, which is situated across from the water tower.

Visitors lined up in front of the Hang Dau Water Tower on November 23. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Mai

Visitors lined up in front of the Hang Dau Water Tower on November 23. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Mai

The area has signs designating sections for guests who have registered online, elderly guests (over 70 years old), and those who haven't registered. The visitors vary in age, including students, middle-aged and elderly individuals, and even foreign tourists.

The organizing committee members guided the group of guests through the check-in area, directing them from the park and through the water tower. Each group consists of approximately 20-25 people, and the entire tour takes about 5-10 minutes.

Nguyen Thanh Mai, a 27-year-old from Hai Phong, expressed dissatisfaction, mentioning that despite registering online for the tour, she did not receive the expected priority treatment.

"They kept asking me about the queue when I was told to move from the park. It felt like they weren't checking my e-tickets but just ensuring I was in line, making the whole experience less exciting for me," Mai said.

Most visitors had to wait in line 30 minutes, but they were only granted about 5 minutes to explore.

Nguyen Thi Huyen, 46, from Hanoi, found the brief visit insufficient to fully appreciate the space, particularly due to the narrow path. The presence of organizing committee members moving back and forth on the one-meter-wide walkway further impacted guests' experience.

Nguyen Hoang Long, 33, from Hanoi, noted that some guests lacked awareness and were speaking loudly and disrupting the tower’s sound art.

Recycled plastic lotus leaves displayed inside the Hang Dau Water Tower. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy

Recycled plastic "lotus leaves" displayed inside the Hang Dau Water Tower. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy

Huong Thuy, representing the organizers, clarified that the 5-10 minute time limit for each visitor is implemented to accommodate the daily influx of visitors, ranging from 2,400 to 2,800 since the opening of Hang Dau.

The Organizing Committee has structured tour times into three shifts: morning from 8:30 a.m. to11:30 a.m., afternoon from 1:30 p.m. - 4 p.m., and evening from 6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.

This arrangement guarantees that each shift can accommodate more than 800 visitors.

Given the absence of a fee, online registration acts as a tool for organizers to manage and regulate the number of visitors evenly throughout the day. This approach enhances security, order, and traffic safety for the area.

While checking the e-ticket is not mandatory, customers who register online receive priority, and those without prior registration may experience longer wait times.

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