Perhaps, it has been nearly 15 years already since I, for the first time of my life, passed through Hanoi’s historical bridge named Long Bien coincidently and unknowingly. It was a summer train driving me from the North to the South with parents were my companions.
Slowly as the train leaving behind the noisy and gaudy city, Long Biên Bridge, like a concealer, little by little took off its cover and appeared behind the fog of an early morning. “It is a splendor scene”, I thought myself. But at the time, little did I know, there was life, breathing and going on under its pier.
Long Bien (Long Biên) was the first steel bridge built by the French from 1899 – 1902 and named Doumer after the great Paul Doumer. If one day, you walk by the bridge, just look around and you will see the sign: 1899 -1902 – Daydé & Pillé – Paris because it was the name of a French construction company called Daydé & Pillé that built the bridge. And as I grow older, I have driven through the bridge, though little did I actually stop to feast my eyes upon the dust and dawn and the fishing boat letting itself go freely on the gentle stream of the Red River.
It reminds me of my good old days as a child when Hanoi was still a place for the things that were kinda obsolete but strangely dear. Despite living in the city for almost all of my youth, I will probably have to shame myself for not once setting foot to Nhật Tân Flower Garden near Long Biên Bridge and Long Bien local market. Then I decided to travel to this market with our professional photographer, Minh Nguyen, who knows this place so well, to see the beauty of Long Bien local life in the early morning.
Long Biên Market is one of four biggest markets in Hanoi lying right under Long Biên’s pier, behind the border gate. It is where many people from most of the Northern provinces gathering to sell their produces in the hope of earning their livings and supporting their families. People deliver produces from the countryside to Long Bien Market from 00:00 AM to 05:00 AM daily. And if you take a closer look, you will figure it out that most porters working in the market are women. They come from Bắc Ninh, Hà Giang, Thanh Hóa and many elsewhere.
They work hard through the day from 10:00 PM to 07:00 AM, though there are days they carry almost a quintal and only earn around 100.000 – 200.000 Dongs (~USD 5 – USD 10). However, life still goes on with its bustle and hustle going around all day. People here are still selling and people there are still coming to buy. Although they are all doing their jobs, sometimes there is one moment when they, and we are both standing at the line of today and tomorrow to admire and to reminisce: the dawn of Long Biên.
To see more photos, check the open album below or go to Flickr:
Photo Album Flickr
(Please use the left/right arrows to navigate in the files of the open album)