House boats moored in a backwater on the eastern side of Hà Nội Vietnam has two dominant rivers. The massive 4,300 kilometre (2,700 mile) long Mekong in the south of the country, and the 1,100 kilometre (680 mile) Red River in the north, the importance of which lies in the way it hugs the capital city on two sides and leads through economically critical areas to the China Sea. Much of the time (although not all) the river is an obvious red colour due to the red soils which silt it up; keeping it open and navigable is the full time work of many dredgers. Some of which can be seen below. The river is wide (some 1,700 metres or over a mile) and was only first bridged during the French occupation in 1902 with the Long Biên Rail Bridge. Some of that width runs over backwaters and marsh areas adjoining the main river. These are utilised by people who can find a less expensive way of life which is still convenient for work in the thriving city. For 80 years only trains, bicycles and pedestrians had dry access to Hà Nội's eastern suburbs. Since then bridges have been added with bewildering rapidity and now number 10. The Chương Dương Bridge (named after a thirteenth century battle) was completed in 1986 offering motor traffic a way to beat the cost of ferries. This began the opening up of the Long Biên District on the east bank of the river, it remains however, a relatively bucolic and spacious suburb
of an otherwise densely populated and hectic city
These photos, taken on the east bank of the river in the Long Biên district of Hà Nội, show scenes missing from the main city: Fisherman, wooded area and banana plantation
On another day the red river is living up to its name. Here one of the barges that caries the dredged silt from the river to its banks
The Thăng Long Bridge to the airport opened in 1985 carrying rail and road traffic; it was built with Soviet Union help
Nhật Tân Bridge was completed in 2015, made, as its name implies, with the help of Japanese corporations and money, it offers a fast new road to the airport
A train comes (very slowly, Vietnamese style) along the Long Biên Bridge. At both sides of the track are walkways - the far one can just be seen - more normally jostling with walkers and cyclists
Hà Nội is under 20 metres above sea level, and the sea is over 100 kilometres away. The result - endless silting up of the waterway and fleets of barges like these constantly engaged in moving silt from the river bed to the banks
Dredgers out in the river load up the barges which bring the silt back to the land
where it can be put to good use
Barges on the Red River
Here in matching tones of red
Fisherman and houseboats
A backwater of the Red River where houseboats can be moored in protected shallow water
The shallow water allows easy access to the boats...
Barges and work units abut planted fields of silt rich soil
...and here, dangling from the Chương Dương Bridge, is someone using a less orthodox method of getting home
...He made it. In the murky background the building of the Đông Trù Bridge
which opened in 2014
Another way of getting to a houseboat - by a bridge of bamboos. The Long Biên Bridge is in the background
The banks of the river are composed of fertile mud - when dry this
The Red River showing why it is so called, however, the Vietnamese name is Sông Hồng - Rose River - and might be nearer the colour, but, of course, it does vary greatly
Almost under the Long Biên Bridge houseboat owners show how rich the silt laden waters of the river are...
...with their small scale hydroponic schemes sitting a few feet from mud that could have raised conventional crops
Men working on a loaded barge powering across the sun's reflection as the heat subsides, and the sun dives for the horizon
So short are the tropical dusks and dawns that...
...they are easily missed. The sun plunging, from what...
...appears to be a high angle, to darkness within a few minutes
But if you are fast enough to catch the low angle, the sight can be rewarding
The next Picture Posting
page takes you into the city of Hà Nội and to the largest of its many lakes - Hồ Tây.
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