The Hanoitimes - A gate leading to the kingdom for pets located on 167 Truong Dinh Street, Hoang Mai District in Hanoi. When Hanoi experienced an economic boom in 2000, a local man with a deep love for animals opened a hotel dedicated to dogs and cats. A decade later, he even built a five-star pets-only hotel for the four-legged guests as local pet owners were willing to spend a fortune to give their companions high-class services from hotel stays, entertainment, and health check-ups to beauty care.
The luxury hotel offers an alternative to pet owners who are busy at work or away for holidays and who can pay the room rate ranging from VND150.000 to VND1 million a day plus food, which is more expensive than home care but affordable to the average Hanoi family.
“A former ambassador to Vietnam, who wished to be anonymous, has left her beloved Spanish dog at our hotel for more than two years to have us take care of it and gave us a fee of VND100 million because she has taken up a new post in another country but could not bring it with her,” the owner said.
“She returns to Vietnam a couple of times a year to visit the dog,” he added.
Behind a gate simulating Ô Quan Chưởng, a 263-year-old gate in the capital, located on 167 Truong Dinh Street is a 3,000 square meter ‘animal kingdom’ housing a five-star hotel, a large pond, and a graveyard for deceased pets.
The ‘kingdom’ owner is 70-year-old Nguyen Bao Sinh, who used to be a soldier during Vietnam War, a poet, a portrait painter, and a well-known boxer. However, Sinh has devoted much of his time to taking care of dogs and cats. Not surprisingly, he is dubbed “Sinh Dog” or “Canine Researcher”.
Sinh said he believes in a Buddhist teaching that human being and animals have the same rights in this world, so he gave the pond the name “Ao Phật – tề đồng vật ngã” (Buddhist pond - human beings and animals are equal).
The owner placed a Guan Yin Buddha statue, two statues of little angles, and a statue of himself in a monk robe in the middle of the pond. Statues of 18 Arhats are also placed around the area.
In 1970s after being discharged from the army, Sinh built a farmhouse to raise a couple of dogs. Until 2000 when most Hanoinans had a better standard of living due to the economic boom, Sinh came up with the idea to open a hotel for pets.
“This hotel is opened out of my love for dogs and cats. It is a place for pets to stay while their owners are away,” Sinh said.
After operating the hotel for 10 years, Sinh decided to build a large-scale modern hotel that he called the “pets resort.”
The “resort” is a five-storey building with an elevator and high-class furniture and interior equipment.
A shopping mall selling fashionable clothes, cages and other items for pets is also available at this resort. Sinh also leaves a whole room for beauty care services where the four-legged guests will receive services like massages, hair trimming, pedicures, make-up, and hair dying.
Each room in the building has a camera to monitor the pets, allowing their owners to keep track of them all the time. Any pet checked in and staying at the resort will have a personal nurse to take care of it.
But the highlight of the kingdom is a special graveyard where more than 400 deceased cats and dogs have been buried.
Lining the two sides of the pond are small tombs made of laterite, each of which has an incense holder and a tombstone carved with the pets’ name or image. There is also another site to hold ashes and incense holders for cremated dogs or cats.
“Every year I hold ceremonies of requiem for these dead pets. Their remains would be put into vases or pots after being buried for three years in this cemetery,” Sinh said.
In 2006, Sinh held the 30th death anniversary of a white German Shepherd dog named Ami that he bought in 1970s at the price of a tael of gold equivalent to 2,000 square meters of land in Hanoi at that time.
“When it died, I saved a part of my land to build a cemetery for it. Eventually, many people learned of the cemetery and asked me to let them bury their dead pets with Ami. Gradually it has become a graveyard for dogs and cats,” Sinh revealed.