I was away from America for fifteen months yet there weren't any big changes in how it looked to me. There were only two significant things that I noticed:
1. In New York City, around Time Square, Broadway was closed and turned into a pedestrian area. Where there used to be a lot of traffic, people are now congregating and hanging out on lawn chairs. The traffic, well, it's been pushed to all the surrounding avenues.
2. In Livingston, under the guidance of Mayor August, the town is constructing a huge Town Hall/Police Station/Court House.
Besides these two things all seemed about the same back in the good old U S of A. Well, things aren't as stagnate here in Hanoi. I was away for only three months yet the city has changed a lot. Specifically, in an attempt to combat the horrific traffic, the city has changed the flow of traffic all over the city.
(PICTURE: These metal barricades are a common fixture on the streets of Hanoi these days.)
I've noticed about ten places already that used to be four way intersection but are now just two lane roads. I keep riding around on Huyen's motorbike, finding myself having to make U-turns or use alternative routes to get places. A couple of the changes are fantastic and you can really see tangible results in the flow of traffic. Some other places though really make no sense. In two former big intersections there is now a steady congestion of cars and bikes making U-turns into head on traffic. One thing hasn't changed though -- riding a bike keeps your heart pumping!