Among the many small streets of the Old Quarter in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi, Gam Cau Street still feels a bit forgotten, a bit out-of-the-way. This is due, in no small part, to the fact that one side of the street faces an abrupt wall – or so it seems. In fact, this is an elevated rail line which was originally supported by stone arches, since filled in to assume their present somewhat grimy façade, notwithstanding some shops hanging their merchandise over the street or on the wall opposite their stores. However, this may be about to change. 

A plan to renovate and open as public spaces up to 127 of these historical stone archways is under consideration by authorities. Aiming to open new space in the city centre for cafes, book shops and artistic events, the plan would reopen stone archways which have been filled in and sealed for decades. Linking the central Hanoi Station and the iconic Long Bien Bridge, this rail line was built around 1900 to 1902, and any renovation plan adopted to highlight this in-the-rough urban heritage would also need to preserve the architectural integrity of the rail line, not to mention addressing the concerns of local residents and vendors.   


In Western Bhutan, the Alpine forests and tranquil lakes of Haa Valley form a picturesque backdrop for the Haa Summer Festival, a celebration of the traditional culture of nomadic herders who have long roamed this unforgiving landscape.  Here, one festival-goer discovers the local yak-herders practice of ‘snapping’ their slingshots to produce a sound which helps keep their yaks compliant. The seriousness with which the herders approached this topic, and their eagerness to join an impromptu competition, reflects its genuine role in their lifestyle. This is just one example of the refreshingly authentic nature of travel in Bhutan, a destination truly unlike any other. 



In Thailand, thousands of spectators came out to cheer around 100 teams of oarsmen coming from around the country to compete in the century old tradition of boat races on the Nan River at Wat Tha Luang. The 165 scheduled races began after a colourful boat procession and opening ceremony.   


Local people in Bolikhamxay Province, Laos, are supporting the continuation of a project on sustainably growing and harvesting rattan, used for craft products, to create jobs and generate stable incomes. The WWF-led project helps train locals and encourages forest preservation through the use of non timber forest products. Find out more HERE about what you can see and do when visiting Laos, famed for its friendly and laid-back people.



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