Long Bien night market is where Hanoi’s market traders come to buy their fruit, vegetables, fish and meat. Every night, trucks come in from the countryside, piled high with fresh produce. It’s a frenetic, chaotic place, full of energy and life, despite the hour (very early or very late, depending on your point of view). Purposeful merchants push carts and carry baskets laden with food; motorbikes and trucks plough through the narrow, muddy channels between makeshift stalls. In the midst of the frenzy, other traders take time out to play cards or nap in hammocks. Above it all, Long Bien bridge, built at the start of the last century and showing its age, but now one of the symbols of the city.
When I arrived, at around five this morning, the only light was from the bare bulbs hanging under coloured awnings or in the open back doors of the vendors’ lorries. By the time I left, this harsh artificial light had been replaced by hazy dawn sunshine.