Being rich in Hanoi in the 1990s

By Ban Mai   September 28, 2016 | 12:05 am PT
An exhibit takes visitors down the memory lane with objects that were once too expensive for most Vietnamese.

It has been three decades since Vietnam's doi moi reform era began in 1986 and successfully transformed the economy in the following years.

To celebrate this historic event, the National Museum of Vietnamese History has opened a special exhibition featuring items deemed "luxury" in the 1990s. The objects, mostly come from private collections, give us a glimpse of what life was back then.


In the 1990s, any family in Hanoi would be extremely proud if they had one of these items: a television made by the Japanese manufacturer JVC, a Sony stereo and a pressure cooker from the Soviet Union.


These items could cost a fortune three decades ago.


TV was the main family entertainment even though there were only a few channels to choose from, not to mention constant blackouts.


VHS players were also rare and a symbol of wealth. Foreign songs and films were loved by many in the 1990s.


A Sony radio and cassette player allowed locals to listen to music and news or learn English.


Many women saved money for sewing machines to make simple clothes for their children at home.


Many replaced their wood burning stoves or kerosene stoves with electric appliances sent home by family members who were studying abroad. This electric stove was sent by a son studying in the Soviet Union to his mother in Ba Dinh District.


A pressure cooker that was used for making soup.


An iron sent by a son to his family in Gia Lam District in 1991.


A lamp a man bought in China in 1995.

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