February 23, 2019 | 05:01 pm PT

Tourists, expats say Hanoi ideal for Trump-Kim summit

Tourists, expats say Hanoi ideal for Trump-Kim summit
A man rides past a billboard promoting for upcoming North Korea-U.S. summit on a street in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa

Tourists and expats in Vietnam are agreed that Hanoi is the perfect place for high-level discussions toward world peace.

Wearing a red-and-yellow Vietnam flag T-shirt, Jacob Brown was running back and forth with his camera in downtown Hanoi, trying to get the best shot of pedestrians walking on a street where North Korean and U.S. flags have recently been put up.

The Canadian photographer came to Vietnam for the first time last week, and was surprised to see that traffic lights don’t seem to matter much to the local motorbike drivers, and that a summit between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump will be hosted in the country’s capital.

"I’ve noticed billboards with flags of both countries around Hoan Kiem Lake. It’s kind of amazing to know Trump and Kim will be meeting in Hanoi when I’m here," the 26-year-old told VnExpress International.

Although Brown admitted that he has limited knowledge about Vietnam, he said he has heard that the country has been developing fast in recent years. "Vietnam deserves to be chosen for this summit, and I think Vietnamese people should be proud to be part of an event which promotes world peace."

Trump and Kim Jong-un will meet in Hanoi on February 27-28.

Emma Price, an English teacher from the U.K. who has been working in Hanoi for four years, said that the city was "a perfect place" to host the summit because, apart from the air quality and traffic, "it is peaceful and the people are so nice."

The 28-year-old teacher said she has seen the summit dominate news in the last few days. Even her students talked about the two leaders in class, but mostly about whether they should go and have a haircut like either of them.

"I took the opportunity and let my students discuss what they want to see from the upcoming summit. Personally, I just hope it will end with peaceful results."

Hanoians have consistently displayed a welcoming spirit to foreign leaders. When U.S President Barrack Obama visited the city in May 2016, thousands poured out to the street to welcome him. 

Price said she expects a similar atmosphere this time. Roads might be blocked and it might take her longer to get to work, "but as long as leaders can sit down together and have a good talk, that’s not a big deal."

"I might just get a Trump-Kim T-shirt and join the crowd."

Michael Brooks, an American businessman who has been in Vietnam for almost 10 years, said that the summit being hosted in Hanoi was a major event, considering the history of the three countries.

"The U.S. was the enemy of both North Korea and Vietnam, but now the top leaders are going to gather in Hanoi. I think that’s kind of a big deal."

After coming out of two long wars, Vietnam has changed so fast in recent years, said Brooks, who now lives in one of many high-rise buildings in Hanoi and shops in big malls where the growing middle class go to during weekends.

After the first Trump-Kim meeting in Singapore last year, which did not yield concrete results owing to disagreements over the concept of denuclearization, all eyes are now on Hanoi, expecting more progress to world peace.

Brooks expressed the same hope.

"The tension has been going on for years now, and Hanoi might just be the place where the heat starts to cool off."