By the early 2000s motorbikes had taken over the streets of Hà Nội that
were previously famed for their pedal cycles
Nguyễn Chí Thanh Street in Ba Đình Quarter, from a tower block - before the advent of drones
Traffic. One word which summarises most people's first impressions of wandering around Hà Nội, Vietnam's capital. Solid masses of standing motorbikes in the Old Town. Flowing swaths of vehicles on the wide boulevards of the new parts of the city. This page offers photographs from across Hà Nội which hopefully may raise your interest in this most complex, rich and diverse of metropoli. Other pages have already offered aspects of the central
strange loads were
a couple of pages ago and it is hoped that future pages will widen that collection. Here traffic and size are emphasised: looking down on it or being amongst it; and the massive density of the city which officially has a population of 4.7 million, but unofficial estimates usually run at twice this figure. This ambiguity revolves around the way central government pays local areas according to registered citizens, and wishes to discourage urban drift. The result is that many people work in the biggest cities unofficially, making accurate estimates of the density hard to find. The estimate of the number of motorcycles is equally elusive, but anecdotally it rates their number as being equal to the number of
people in Hà Nội
A clip of an intersection on the road shown above. Watch closely and you will see, after 10 secs, an ant (human) emerge from the trees on the right and set out into the traffic - and still be alive when the video ends after 22 seconds!
Looking out across the town from the same tower as the video (to the left) was made, but in
the other direction
And another shot from the same tower this time showing Ngọc Khánh Lake with a tower block
rising on its near shore
As with any tropical country much of life takes place at night, although photography is less happy with this arrangement. Massed crowds in the city centre
But there are plenty of massed crowds that the camera can capture: traffic in the old town
Kim Mã Street is valuable to the tourist, recognition of it helps gain orientation in this sprawling city
On another street, the view from above shows the bikes may be more spaced out than appears at first sight
A less hectic street scene, room for the
driver to ply his trade
Traffic police, in tan uniforms, march in to select motorists for 'interview'
The raised highway through the north of the city leads to the airport one way, and in the other, to the Sofitel Plaza - ahead
An elderly Hanoian is not to be deterred by any traffic. In Vietnam cyclists have right of way over anything bigger or heavier. The sight of older people exercising this prerogative can be alarming to westerners; and criminalising for foreigners who arrogantly believe they know how to drive in Vietnam. Happily the UK Highway Code is finally now catching up on this more seemly order of priorities
But it is the old lanes of Hà Nội that fascinate visitors. Penetrating deep among the buildings, for up to a kilometre, to reach dead ends.
Every sort of bike everywhere
A small pagoda tucked away amongst the lanes
Looking down on an area of lanes like the ones illustrated just above
Looking west across the city
Blocks rise like mushrooms on the west of the city
The Sofitel Plaza (seen distantly above) sits beside Trúc Bạch Lake
Completed blocks of flats on the west of the city; but some traders seem untouched by these edifices
These rather bizarre gates are near the Thăng Long bridge by the Red River. They announce a new urban satellite city for Hà Nội. Identical gates can be seen in Phnom Penh. According to Google, this 'Ciputra' is the creation of an Indonesian business man of that name
Hiding between the trees are the columns of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. A little ochre of French colonial buildings shows at the right
Here another sign of the French occupation. The main railway line from Hà Nội to China
The Red River is up to a mile wide in places as it wraps itself around the capital. The
bridge was built in 1900
Hà Nội's self-effacing main rail station
A waterway with potential; sadly, at present, it is often little more than an open sewer
The greener suburb of Long Biên across the river to the north
One of the new bridges, which give better access to those living in Long Biên, is this, the Nhật Tân Bridge
The Thăng Long Bridge, the old way to the airport, is a railway bridge with a road on top
In 2010 Hà Nội celebrated its 1,000th birthday. One of the memorials to this event was the rather wonderful five mile long mural, contributed by schools, alongside the main airport road which runs, at the north of the city, to the Thăng Long Bridge
The next page
takes you from a Hà Nội cityscape to an Edinburgh cityscape.
The next page
of the Mosaic Section is headed 'Silence'.
Or go to the
Go to the contents of the Mosaic Section.
of the Mosaic Section.