Without an H

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.






85 Responses to “Tracks”

  1. Jura

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

  2. crea2010

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

  3. Chris

    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!

  4. bananabatman

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

  5. Alan P.

    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.

    • Jon Sanwell

      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.

  6. 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

    • Jon Sanwell

      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.

  7. dwmullin

    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.


  8. shejustkeepsgoing

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

  9. Jane Lurie

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

  10. bdh63

    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.

  11. mirrorgirl

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

  12. carolinarin

    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!

  13. BloggerChic

    how terrifically enjoyable

    thank you for sharing these

  14. kdf62

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

  15. segmation

    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.

  16. feelfreeorflyindia

    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!

  17. 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.

  18. cozyblanketsnowflakerepetitioncompulsion

    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!

  19. 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.

  20. Mz Zoomer

    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.

  21. Suze

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

  22. Jade Herrera

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

  23. Lily Mugford

    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.

  24. Hitchiking Colorado

    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.

  25. Jon Sanwell

    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.

  26. 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.

  27. BuntyMcC

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


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