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Photos: Hanoi's millenium marked by crowds and chaos

Dignitaries missed the final celebration due to grid-locked traffic.

HANOI, Vietnam — "Hanoi Enjoys Record-Breaking Mass Traffic Jam, Some Fireworks."

Or so a headline in the local media could easily have read the morning after the finale to its 10-day millennial celebration.

Prior to the finale, the news from Hanoi was all about the containers of fireworks that had exploded in a field beside My Dinh Stadium on the outskirts of Hanoi on Oct. 6. The explosion killed four people, three of them foreigners. Following the accident, officials announced that all but one of the 29 planned fireworks displays would be canceled, and the money put toward helping the flood-afflicted central regions. Recent reports number the dead from the floods at 66.

On Sunday night, the night of the finale, it felt as if the whole city headed to My Dinh to watch the one remaining display from outside the stadium.

Traffic quickly became a tangled monster of motorbikes. Buses of dignitaries got stick for hours and missed proceedings entirely. There were reports, as yet unconfirmed by GlobalPost, that Vietnam's president, Nguyen Minh Triet, was stuck in gridlock himself and missed proceedings.

Sources said that gardens were destroyed, grassy areas trampled to a pulp and crowds were seen helping themselves to fruits of local labor in small market gardens around the urban area.

It was an emblematic end to a chaotic celebration that stood in contrast to that morning's choreographed parade, which was the largest military display in years.

For some, it was poetic justice after 10 days of VIP events that the public was cordoned-off from.

And, on the upside, as one local news outlet pointed out, however drastic the mess left behind, it meant that the party, finally, finished.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/vietnam/101012/hanoi-millennium-history-culture