Urbanist Hanoi

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[Photos] From Rain-Soaked Nightscapes to a Serene Hanoian Dawn

Hanoi is known for its frenetic traffic and streets, which during my initial years in the capital led me to dream of escape.

I took every chance I could to get out of the city and enjoy fresh countryside air and beautiful scenery. I needed the breaks to feel calm. That is, at least, until I decided to slip out in the middle of the night and enjoy Hanoi while fewer cars and motorbikes buzzed past. To do so was to see the city unwind the way a fist eases into an outstretched palm.

At night, the capital’s streets turn to nightscapes where neon lights and motorbike headlamps reflect off rain-soaked tarmacs. I used a long shutter speed to capture light trails from the few vehicles that remained. 

And then a slow, grey dawn unfurled as sunlight cracked through buildings and turned bánh cuốn steam brilliant white. Around this time, older Hanoians got together for tai chi, yoga, aerobics, cycling and to use street gyms before work.

Markets open even before sunrise, and people go there for shopping and noodle-slurping in the streets. And if you stay even longer, the city grows frantic, turning into the place we all know and love and, occasionally, want to leave.

See more below:

A rare sight of stars over the capital.

Lanterns and fairy lights add to the aesthetic.

Light trails beneath Long Bien Bridge.

The view from the bridge.

Lights form traffic reflects in the rain-soaked surface of Chuong Duong Bridge.

Dawn above Hanoi.

A man goes running with his dog around Hoan Kiem Lake at sunrise.

Many older Hanoians visit Hoan Kiem lake at sunrise to exercise.

Dancing in the streets.

Street vendors begin their day of work.

Playing with a shuttlecock shortly after dawn.

Dancing in Ly Thai To Square.

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