I live just around the corner from Hoang Van Thu park. On a weekday morning or in the late afternoon it's like any other popular park in the world; packed with joggers, children and general stragglers out for a walk. Yet, when it rains or in the midday sun (especially on weekends), the park turns into one of those creepy, empty Stephen King-type scenes, complete with deserted amusement park rides and ethereal statues. The only life is the wind whistling in your ears and sodden walkways that crunch underfoot.
The place reminds me of this cultural village we visited in Soweto last year - the name eludes me - that was set-up by a Zulu "professor/soothsayer" who predicted a number of events in South Africa's future (eerily, two of which was that Africa would have a female president that year (think Sirleaf) and South Africa would have a female president by 2010) . It had the same strange, peeling and cracked effigies of animals and gods as Hoang Van Thu Park. The wierdest was the warning upon entry that anybody who disrespected, vandalised or stole from the village would be struck with such a disproportionate number of afflictions it seemed unfairly cruel (the last of which was that your corspe would lie out in the desert, fed upon by hungy vultures, and your sould would never know the comfort of heaven or even relief of hell). No wonder the people of Soweto forced the soothsayer to flee back to Kawazulu-Natal. Mob law rules.
It's not unusual to encounter some brave souls in HVT Park on these barren days though
Or otherwise justifiably sad-looking ones
Even the usually happy hippo seemed a bit peeved
Godzilla in Paris? Probably the sequel