Skip to content

Hoan Kiem Lake’s Iconic Balloon Seller Passes Away From Cancer, Netizens Pay Tribute To Him

Hoan Kiem Lake’s balloon seller passes away

Hanoians are probably familiar with the image of a rugged man riding an old bicycle around the Hoan Kiem Lake, carrying along a huge cluster of balloons that delighted any child passing by. No one knows when he started doing what he did, but we only know that he seems to have been around for as long as we can remember.

Unfortunately, last weekend, it was reported that this beloved figure has passed away from cancer, so thousands of netizens have flocked to online forums to pay tribute to him.

Netizens show their respect to the iconic figure

Image credit: Huy Lô

For countless Hanoian millennials and zoomers, this smiling uncle figure that we only ever knew as the endearing nickname bố già or “old pop” was part of our childhoods.

Funnily enough, many of us can remember buying a balloon from him, giving him a nod and a smile as we walked past, or simply seeing him on the streets, yet it never crossed our minds to ask for his name.

Still, in our hearts, his image is as synonymous to Hanoi as the charming Hoan Kiem Lake and the timeworn buildings of the Old Quarter themselves.

Image credit: Nguyễn Việt Anh

Following news of his passing, thousands of netizens have taken to Facebook to pay tribute to him. Some, such as netizen Đỗ Vũ Quang Hiếu, have anecdotes of the fond memories they had with the man. According to Hiếu, the balloon uncle once helped him after he was caught in a traffic accident.

Image credit: Đỗ Vũ Quang Hiếu

Others shared pictures they had taken with the old man’s iconic bicycle and balloons. According to them, he was always willing to lend these items to shutter-happy folks.

Image adapted from Quang Huy

But most commonly, people had photos they randomly snapped of him on the streets.

Image credit: Tùng

Iconic balloon seller around Hoan Kiem Lake passes away from cancer

While we are saddened by the passing of our “balloon uncle”, it is wholesome in a way to know that he’s touched the lives of so many people. He lived a full life, and now, may he rest in peace.

For more stories, check out:

Cover image adapted from Nguyễn Việt Anh and Tùng

Follow The Smart Local Vietnam on Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, and LinkedIn for more stories like this. If you have a story to share, email us at