Photography from south-east Asia by Jon Sanwell



Last weekend, while visiting Hanoi for a few days, I took a short walk along the stretch of railway track that leads from Hanoi station, over Long Bien bridge and out to the north.  I followed the tracks across the busy city streets near the station, then through a quiet neighbourhood, and above a local market.  Space is tight; houses open directly onto the tracks.  Trains are fairly infrequent so, as in any other Hanoi neighbourhood, people go about their everyday business in the streets outside their homes.


As the railway heads gently up and towards the bridge, there is little room for the market stalls underneath.  Here, dog meat is being sold as a train passes overhead.


Wayne and Frank were out looking for trouble.



Other forms of transport are available.


I stopped for a cup of tea…


… which this nice man insisted on paying for.


Unfortunately, I was too late for lunch; the com binh dan was already closed.






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85 responses

  1. Fantastic series of photos but actually really love the closed food stall just for its simplicity.

    May 7, 2013 at 12:22 am

    • Thanks. Sometimes the simple ones are the best.

      June 3, 2013 at 9:10 am

  2. Wow, this is quite incredible. The things we don’t know. Thanks for posting these great photos.

    May 7, 2013 at 2:42 am

  3. Great series. I love your photos. I was in Vietnam for a few weeks last year, so this brings back lots of memories. Great photos and blog!

    May 7, 2013 at 5:07 am

  4. Superb! There are some really great compositions here. I love 1, 5, 9, 10 and 12 in particular, but they are all great shots.

    May 7, 2013 at 3:50 pm

  5. Maeve

    Awesome Jon!

    May 7, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    • Thank you, Maeve. Hope all is well with you.

      June 3, 2013 at 9:11 am

  6. good to know the lives around a railroad. It must be very noisy and while there’s still a neighborhood living there peacefully. Great set.

    May 7, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    • Thank you. It’s actually surprisingly quiet. The trains don’t come by very often, and there’s a lot less motorbike traffic than in other parts of the city.

      June 3, 2013 at 9:14 am

  7. Mary E. Croy

    Duong Sat, the steel road becomes a path, a place of rest
    do you think of tomorrow while sitting with yesterday at your back?
    the colors, red, green, blue sky
    become carrier of waves,
    straight lines are pauses
    think as you pause
    the journey is important only
    if you look up

    May 7, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    • Thanks, Mary. You’re the first person to respond to my pictures with a poem. Hope all is well, and that we can catch up when I make it back to Hanoi later this year.

      June 3, 2013 at 9:17 am

  8. hairygrim

    Wow! Some amazing photos.

    May 8, 2013 at 12:08 am

  9. Fantastic photos – the colors are striking. There is something so romantic and infinite about railroad tracks that just makes you want to stare and follow them down. My mother is from Vietnam but I have never been to Hanoi – thanks so much for sharing.

    May 8, 2013 at 2:09 am

    • Thank you. Yes, there’s definitely something about railway tracks.

      June 3, 2013 at 9:20 am

  10. Nice images!

    May 8, 2013 at 2:12 am

  11. I love how you’ve captured the atmosphere in the photographs, they’re excellent! Thanks for sharing :)

    May 8, 2013 at 2:56 am

  12. Amazing…..

    May 8, 2013 at 3:05 am

  13. great photographs! ;)

    May 8, 2013 at 4:03 am

  14. Wonderful pictures!

    May 8, 2013 at 5:26 am

  15. these photos are breathtaking. I hope to travel someday and see raw images of the world like these.

    May 8, 2013 at 5:47 am

  16. Wow…very nice!!! Beautiful pictures…pretty cool to see the world outside of my world.

    May 8, 2013 at 5:50 am

  17. Lovely photos.

    May 8, 2013 at 6:16 am

  18. Beautiful Photos!

    May 8, 2013 at 7:05 am

  19. Wow your photos are amazing!

    May 8, 2013 at 7:40 am

  20. Fantastic images of an interesting slice of life along the tracks. Wonderful post. Hanoi was a photographer’s dream. Loved it.

    May 8, 2013 at 8:13 am

  21. Thanks for sharing these stunning photos.

    May 8, 2013 at 9:34 am

  22. Absolutely beautiful, the colours are outstanding. It makes me miss Asia!

    May 8, 2013 at 10:06 am

  23. Very nice travel shots! The blue wall with the clothes and bicycle is my favorite.

    May 8, 2013 at 10:13 am

    • That’s one of my favourites too. I actually have other pictures of it from two or three years ago.

      June 3, 2013 at 9:23 am

  24. Amazing how those Brits even turn up in Hanoi (Wayne and Frank, that is). Great photos. I wonder if those stalls shake when the train does eventually go by. Great photos! Thanks for sharing.

    May 8, 2013 at 10:17 am

  25. Beautiful Picture My Friend, Looked like a fantastic trip.

    May 8, 2013 at 10:27 am

  26. I have been in Hanoi myself, and wish I had more time to explore every side of it! Really good photographs.

    May 8, 2013 at 12:28 pm

  27. nice

    May 8, 2013 at 1:36 pm

  28. Great, simple commentary. Enjoyed. Thanks

    May 8, 2013 at 2:49 pm

  29. A beautiful post! Thanks!

    May 8, 2013 at 4:08 pm

  30. Such a great photo story… i’ll be in Hanoi in a few days too, I’ll keep my eyes open for these great settings!

    May 8, 2013 at 4:14 pm

  31. Amazing images! Congrats :)

    May 8, 2013 at 4:42 pm

  32. Absolutely amazing images. Love them!

    May 8, 2013 at 4:51 pm

  33. Excellent!!!!!!!!!!!11

    May 8, 2013 at 4:59 pm

  34. BloggerChic

    how terrifically enjoyable

    thank you for sharing these

    May 8, 2013 at 6:15 pm

  35. kdf62

    Awesome photos there are so many ideas for stories that I can write. Excellent

    May 8, 2013 at 6:59 pm

  36. What awesome photos. What is amazing is the expressions. They have hard lives and you have done a great job of capturing them. Thanks for sharing.

    May 8, 2013 at 8:03 pm

  37. Beautiful pictures, they truly tell a story of an adventure!

    May 8, 2013 at 8:09 pm

  38. From the first images, thought these were taken in Manila. Vivid colors, evokes much emotion!:)

    May 8, 2013 at 10:16 pm

  39. Beautiful series!

    May 8, 2013 at 11:43 pm

  40. Absolutely fantastic photographs Jon! All of them are beautiful but I think the one of the old man sitting near the track is stunning! Keep up the great work!

    May 9, 2013 at 12:33 am

  41. Rebecca Sands

    I love these pics – it made me want to see more of the town and how these people live. Fascinating! Thank you for sharing.

    May 9, 2013 at 5:16 am

  42. These are outstanding photos! Thank you for sharing them. Very moving.

    May 9, 2013 at 8:38 am

  43. Very nice work, a treat to look at.

    May 9, 2013 at 8:53 am

  44. Beautiful work

    May 9, 2013 at 9:56 am

  45. These are stunning and beautiful photographs. I enjoyed the captions. It made me feel like I could be there, or at least that I wanted to ‘teleport’ there and walk one foot in front of the other along those tracks and pass people’s homes. It really showed me a side of a part of the world that I am not familiar with. Brilliant job!

    May 9, 2013 at 10:40 am

  46. Great work! Up close and personal with the locals. Thanks for reminding me of Hanoi! Such an amazing city.

    May 9, 2013 at 7:41 pm

  47. These are fantastic! Thanks for sharing them with us.

    May 9, 2013 at 11:29 pm

  48. sisteranan

    The solid composition cradles the deep saturation and pools of shadow; each one of these looks like a perfect exposure, not always easy when shooting outside in variable weather. I like how the baby in the first shot is looking down the tracks in alarm, as if maybe, just maybe, a train might be coming.

    May 10, 2013 at 1:59 am

  49. I visited Hanoi back in 1997. It was actually my favourite part of my one month stay in Vietnam and I was fortunate to travel quite a bit of the country. Your photos are lovely. They bring me back but even more so, you capture a point of view that is unique and fascinating. Thank you.

    May 10, 2013 at 6:52 am

  50. Beautiful photos

    May 10, 2013 at 10:09 am

  51. Suze

    Beautiful shots. For some reason I like number 3 and the “30” best. May I ask what camera you’re using? Greetings!

    May 10, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    • Thank you. I use a Canon 5D (the old mk I version).

      June 3, 2013 at 9:30 am

  52. I really enjoyed these photos. Each one tells an unspoken story that touches the heart and takes you away on a journey.

    May 10, 2013 at 11:39 pm

  53. Amazing images. very powerful.

    May 11, 2013 at 4:26 am

  54. Reblogged this on juwairenmops and commented:

    May 11, 2013 at 8:52 am

  55. Nice Captures

    May 11, 2013 at 11:31 am

  56. Wonderful photos. they really capture a feeling of a culture a world away from my own. I could hear the sounds and almost touch the friendliness of the people you captured as you walked the track.

    May 12, 2013 at 12:08 am

  57. Lovely photos and a great story.

    May 12, 2013 at 12:31 am

  58. awesome thanks

    May 12, 2013 at 7:49 pm

  59. Göransson's Photography

    All of the photos are amazing!

    May 13, 2013 at 1:42 am

  60. such an inspiration who does photowalks….keep it up :D

    May 13, 2013 at 1:59 am

  61. Amazing photos…………..

    May 13, 2013 at 9:35 pm

  62. Truly fantastic photos in Vietnam. I would like to travel to Southeast Asia some day. The look in the woman’s face sitting on the railroad tracks speaks volumes to me.

    May 14, 2013 at 6:18 am

  63. Stunning photos. Beautiful work. I felt like I was transported to this lush place and was there with those lovely people.

    May 14, 2013 at 8:17 pm

  64. Amazing photos!

    May 15, 2013 at 5:10 am

  65. Great photos…wonderfully framed and exposed. Thanks for sharing!

    May 15, 2013 at 7:35 am

  66. Your photos describe genuinely life in Vietnam, yet it’s a piece of life in Vietnam.

    May 15, 2013 at 12:20 pm

  67. Great images, I’d love to do this when I retire!

    May 17, 2013 at 3:16 am

  68. lovely pictures…simple yet so brilliant. congratulations on being freshly pressed!

    May 20, 2013 at 2:24 pm

  69. marvellous shots

    May 21, 2013 at 12:00 am

  70. A lovely set of images.

    May 21, 2013 at 12:17 pm

  71. beautiful

    May 22, 2013 at 5:23 am

  72. wonderful!

    May 23, 2013 at 8:57 am

  73. Belatedly, a big thank you to everyone for all the positive comments. I’m very proud of this post, so I’m happy that other people like it too. Thanks also to Cheri at WordPress for featuring the post on Freshly Pressed.

    Apologies too for the delay in replying. I’ve been in China for the last few weeks, and couldn’t access my blog.

    June 3, 2013 at 9:36 am

  74. My VIetnam is so beautiful,
    thank you for your photos

    December 21, 2013 at 7:16 pm

  75. Beautiful photos!

    February 18, 2014 at 1:20 pm

  76. dunlopual

    Reblogged this on DunlopDesign and commented:
    Jon Sanwell captures his journeys on film, the striking contrasts of easterns cultures are depicted in a bare yet dynamic tone. Colours and form marry chaotically, the energy is vibrant and eye catching. The composition and depth of his photographs lead the eye and transports the viewer. Texture is key, laying bare the rough and ready environment, simplistic and vibrant in colour.

    October 14, 2014 at 2:42 am

  77. You posted this long before I started blogging or following. These are superb. What a variety of sights. Frank and Wayne made me laugh!

    February 16, 2015 at 1:49 am

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