Nguyen Dinh Hien
Occupation: Swan Boat Manager
Rates: VND80,000 for two people per hour
Why are swan boats for lovers?
Young people get out on the boats and once they are out there they have their own space. They are able to paddle together and it’s easy to talk. It’s good for young people... I see a bunch of people hugging and kissing all the time. Even when they get close to the dock they keep going at it.
On a weekend how many boats will you rent out?
If the weather’s good we can rent out all of our boats, which is over 100.
Is this the most romantic spot in Hanoi?
I can’t say that it’s the most romantic spot, but according to the number of customers that come here, it’s definitely one of the more popular places.
Nguyen Ha Thanh
Occupation: Owner of Kim Anh flower shop, Kim Ma
Rates: VND25,000 to VND30,000 per rose from Dalat
How many flowers do you sell on busy days?
On Valentine’s Day, I sell up to 1,000 roses.
What do you like about your job?
I like flowers. And I like to play with them to make beautiful bunches. Listening to people’s story about their lovers is fun too. Some even tell me that they are buying flowers for their mistress.
Do you think roses will always be the most special gifts among lovers?
Yes. Now many people buy gifts, too. But I think flowers have a very special meaning and always will do.
What advice do you give to people who buy flowers for their lovers?
I think they should go for a simple wrapping. Many people want me to wrap a huge bunch with a lot of paper, they think bigger is better. But I think roses are good themselves with just a small ribbon. And that’s it.
Occupation: Wedding Photographer
Rates: High end
People come to you seeking a service — they want their love captured in a photograph. How do you do that?
I capture their personalities in a portrait in the same way you would do with an individual portrait. You capture their personality when together, whether its humorous or they’re madly in love with each other. You just hope to get a little bit of that in each picture.
There are a lot of photographers who shoot weddings pictures in Hanoi. How do you stand out?
I pitch my style of photography as coming from a journalism and documentary photography background. So people hire me because I’m different. I look to tell a story rather than just taking portraits of them looking into the camera.
What makes a good wedding photographer?
Someone who can be there without being there and capture natural moments as they unfold, without interrupting the flow.
Nguyen Thi Mai
Occupation: Fortune Teller
Do people come to you to get consultations about their love lives?
Yes. Many come to ask me what dates are good to get married. Some come just to see how their love life will be, if they will meet a good husband or wife. And sometimes they ask what they should do to meet those people.
And how do you help them?
I analyse their horoscope based on the time they were born and their astrological sign. It even shows the appearance of their future spouse. I prefer my customers to come without their lovers because if he or she doesn’t look like the ones shown in their horoscope, it’ll be hard for me to tell the truth.
Dang Ngoc Ha Anh
Occupation: Wedding Planner
Rates: Between VND15 million to VND30 million per wedding
What is the hardest part of your job?
I have to break my budget down and then spend the money efficiently. At the end of the day, the wedding ceremony has to be beautiful and satisfy the bride and groom, all the while staying within the budget.
How do the weddings you plan differ from traditional ceremonies?
People in Vietnam host their wedding ceremony to receive money from their friends. But I want to create weddings that are memorable, happy days for the couple.
Do people ever misunderstand your job?
Most people in Vietnam think that a wedding planner is a decorator. I don’t just decorate. I learn about the people I’m working with and try to make their wedding more personal.
Nguyen Hong Quang
Occupation: MC and director of “Quick and Snow” music-request radio show
How many requests do you receive in a week?
Over 1,000 emails. And we can only do nine requests per week.
You have led this talk show for 13 years. How has love in Hanoi changed?
People love at a younger age and show it more freely. Before people who sent us requests were normally college students but now we receive emails from even junior high school students. Girls are stronger in relationships, too. They are not hesitant to confess their feelings like before. And I think [pressures of] modern life makes people live more responsibly. Many emails tell me that the writers decided to stop the relationships and go back to focus on their career.
What do you think about people’s taste in music?
It has changed as now the youngsters have more access to world music. I still feel that they’re listening with other people’s ears. Sometimes we play nice foreign songs, which don’t become popular until people listen to a Vietnamese singer singing that song. At that time, they start to go back and request the foreign songs.
These interviews have been edited and condensed