The fruits of recovery
After three months of residents being locked down at home, Hanoi has lowered its coronavirus alert mode a level. Public exercising is allowed again, provided it is no more than 10 people in a group.
Restaurants can deliver food, and hair salons are up and running at full speed.
The city’s residents can now enjoy its fresh air, which is much improved after a long relief from motorbike and car exhaust fumes, and we have entered the most beautiful season of year: autumn.
It's harvest time and everyone can contemplate a golden harvest being rolled out. While mountainous terraced fields up in Lao Cai and Ha Giang are being harvested and these provinces still enjoy coronavirus-free status, a broad travel ban is still in effect and people from cities that still have positive cases cannot travel to other provinces.
Part of what makes life in a big city vibrant is having an array of food available from elsewhere, and now you people can try new foods again.
In this so-called new normal, pocketing some useful addresses of food suppliers and gourmet eateries is always useful and may help you save on the family budget, particularly useful if your finances were hit by the extended lockdown.
While you can compare prices with different suppliers, it's always advisable to check previous customer feedback before making a purchase, whether you are buying meat, poultry, vegetables, or fruit in season.
Lovely Farm, near Hanoi, sells fresh pork on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and beef on Tuesday. River fish and field crabs, tofu from local soya beans and fruits from southern provinces stamped with VietGap quality control are also available.
Lovely Farm has a sister store Lovely Flower, which offers both imported flowers and those from farms in Da Lat. If you only look at flowers online, it is tempting to buy the prettiest ones you see, but it is worth supporting the flower farms in Da Lat, which have suffered heavily due to the three-month lockdown in Hồ Chí Minh City. Many almost went broke.
Vi Tran from Da Lat, and her family, donated more than 47 tonnes of vegetables to people in HCM City in August and September.
"My journey has to stop because my bank account has been reduced to zero đồng now," Vi wrote on her Facebook account.
"My heart skipped a beat when I saw a man jumping for joy upon receiving 5 kilos of rice and a box of instant noodles. My family and other farms in Đơn Dương have done our best to send veggies to people in need in HCMC and Bình Dương… I'm now running out of resources myself, and need your help back."
Her family grows eustoma flowers in Da Lat and Vi has been trying to sell them at VND15,000 (US$0.60) per bouquet and vegetables from as little as VND5,000 per kilo.
My friend helped her post a note in a community group to help, and there were comments such as, "Da Lat flowers are now up free, why are you selling them here?"
Such words leave a bitter taste, when Vi and her family set out to offer vegetables from her home farms and didn't expect anything in return. When you give away what you have to help others, you certainly do not do such things expecting anybody’s help back. Life can truly be harsh.
Yet Vi and her family are not alone. Many farms in Da Lat have suffered the same fate.
While buying a small bouquet of flowers grown in Da Lat may not save a farm from going bust, if everyone in your neighbourhood lends a hand some might be saved. If you are able, spread the word and get some now. Actions speak louder than words, after all.
In Hanoi, street food is starting to get up and running again. You can get a bowl of glass noodle soup with crispy eel fries delivered to your door from the generations-old Mien luon Tan Tan. Eating in has not been allowed so far, despite the city's decision to lower the lockdown level that took place a night before Mid-Autumn Festival. Hanoians were seen cruising the streets in their droves much to the frustration of health workers who feared a re-ignition of the health crisis.
For your family's weekly supply, Hong Van Nguyen, who can be found on Facebook, offers quality prepared food like marinated pork knuckle, sausages and deboned fish for noodle soup, as well as fresh oranges and rambutan from the south, pears, and persimmons from the northern mountains. Tiny bananas from Nam Dinh Province, believed to be once served to the royal court alone, are also available. Now citizens of the republic can enjoy royal fayre. Though these bananas are only half-size, they are surely double the quality.
Sooner or later lockdown will be completely and utterly lifted everywhere, but we have somehow become accustomed to our new lifestyles. Grocery shopping or going to markets can now be reduced to once a week for fresh vegetables. Frozen meat and fish can be ordered online for a week's supply. Life’s different, but people are ever resourceful.
Things might be looking on the up, but still remember to spray your home with 70 per cent alcohol, wear your masks and keep a 2m-distance from others in public spaces. Now is not the time to be complacent. Be well!
On the first day of easing social distancing measures, HCM City streets were crowded as people flocked to the road to do daily activities that had been suspended for nearly four months.