1. April 2018. You’ve gotta love the entrance to Hanoi’s famous Long Bien Bridge: Rusting iron gates, black graffiti, slumped motorbikes, an abandoned kebab station and a confused looking dog. Which was actually reassuring, after all I’d come to get an authentic feel for one of Hanoi’s most iconic structures and its gritty past.
2. April 2018. Take the crumbling, neglected staircase up to the railway track that leads to Long Bien Station in one direction, nothing but seemingly unending bridge in the other. My first thought upon seeing this disheveled building was that, like the aforementioned kebab station, it had gone the way of the dodo.
3. April 2018. But actually the station is still alive and well, serving a number of northern towns near the Chinese border. It’s a simple affair, with a single ticket counter, plastic chairs, a snack kiosk and… Buddhist shrine!
4. April 2018. Having checked out the station I made tracks (sorry) for the main event, the amazing bridge that withstood multiple bombings by the US Army during The Vietnam War. Designed by Gustave Eiffel (yes, that guy) and built between 1899 and 1902, today the bridge is used by not only trains, but also mopeds, cars and pedestrians on its outer lanes.
5. April 2018. Despite being a functioning rail track, you can always find tourists wandering up and down taking photos. I walked a fair distance down before deciding that if a train suddenly appeared I’d possibly be a bit screwed. Not wanting a repeat of that famous scene in Stand By Me, I decided to do the selfie thing and turn back for the station, another Hanoi delight crossed off my list.
For more on Vietnam’s amazing capital, have a look at more My 5s from around Hanoi.
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