Thousands of people in Hanoi and neighboring localities traveled to the Gia Lam Airport despite the cold, rainy weather to visit Vietnam International Defense Expo on Saturday.
Lines of people spanned around a kilometer on Nguyen Son Street of Long Bien District.
Nguyen Phuong Thao, 19, said she traveled over 15 km with her friends from Thanh Xuan District to visit the expo, hoping to see weaponries from both Vietnam and other countries.
What she did not expect was the sheer amount of people coming to the expo, the first large-scale arms fair ever hosted in Vietnam.
At around 10:30 a.m., security personnel at the entrance on Nguyen Son Street had to stop receiving people. There were three lines at the time, and people were requested to sign up online to enter the expo. Cars and motorbikes had to be parked about 500 m away from the gates to prevent congestion.
She said she and her friends spent more than two hours lining up in front of the expo area.
They only managed to get to the check-in area at around 11:30 a.m., despite having been at the site since 9 a.m.
“I and my friends tried to go in the morning, because we thought the cold weather and the rain would mean fewer people. I did not expect such a crowd. When they arrived, thousands of people were already in the waiting line in front of them,” she said.
Thao thought about getting out of the line due to the long waiting time. But knowing that Saturday was the last day that the expo was opened to the public, she decided to stick around.
Tuan Tu, 35, who lives in nearby Bac Ninh Province, said he decided to take half a day off to go to the expo. He thought a Saturday morning would not be crowded as people would still be working, so he was surprised to see the long lines.
Tu, who is enthusiastic about military and weapon-related things, wanted to see everything with his own eyes. It cost him over an hour to get from the gates to the check-in area.
“Many older people were willing to wait in the cold, so someone young like me quitting would be embarrasing,” he said.
Nguyen Thuy Linh, 18, and her friends were among the first to arrive at the expo as they were near the Gia Lam Airport. There was not any line then and it only took them around 10 minutes to get from the parking lot to the exhibition site.
After a two-hour visit, Linh said she was surprised to see so many people coming to the expo, about 3-5 times more than when they first came. People had to line up to even take pictures, she added.
“People only kept coming. Luckily I came here early, or it would be past noon before I could get in,” Linh said.
There were some people who decided to turn back however due to the cold weather.
“I don’t know when it would be my turn, so I’m going home. It’s too cold for me,” said Mai Anh, 40, who lives in Cau Giay District.
A security guard at the expo said the number of people coming to the expo significantly increased from Friday afternoon. There were moments when there were too many people, exceeding the capacity and reception had to be stopped.
“People of all ages came to the expo, but many families with small children didn’t know only people aged 18 and above could enter,” the guard said.
Le Thi Huong Ngat, 38, and her two children, aged 9 and 11, came to Hanoi from Phu Tho Province to visit the expo as the kids loved military models. But the family had to stay outside the gates.
“I and my husband knew that the expo was open freely, but we did not read the age requirement on the expo’s website, so we wasted our time,” Ngat said. Dozens of other families also got into similar situations.
The Vietnam International Defense Expo 2022, lasting from December 8 to December 10, is attended by over 170 military companies and businesses from 30 countries. It exhibits weaponries, equipment and technologies for multiple military forces including Russia and the U.S.
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