Without an H

Photography from south-east Asia by Jon Sanwell

Posts tagged ‘long bien bridge’

Island life

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The island below Long Bien bridge in the middle of Hanoi’s Red River doesn’t feel like it belongs in the city at all. When I spent an autumn afternoon there, my first visit in far too long, I found wilting banana trees, bamboo construction work and naked swimming guys.

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Night market morning

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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 By the time I left, this harsh artificial light had been replaced by hazy dawn sunshine.

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Over and under the bridge

On Long Bien bridge, you see urban Vietnam: motorbikes, tired colonial architecture,  views of narrow houses and tower blocks fading into the smog.  Under the bridge, the island, where you find a slither of rural Vietnam: fishing villages, farmland, brave Red River swimmers.

When I lived in Hanoi, it was one of my favourite areas to go and take photographs in.  These pictures are from a brief visit in October, when I stopped over in Hanoi for a few days on my way further north.