The Crossing

I made the 20-30 minute trek on motorbike through the harrowing Hanoi traffic to take photos of Long Bien Bridge, but within moments after I had stopped on the bridge to take some shots of the dark clouds hovering imposingly over the Red River, the raindrops started to fall. And in Vietnam, when the raindrops start to fall, they fall hard. “Crap!” I thought, “I came all this way to get some evening shots of the bridge and I’ll be damned if I come away with nothing.” I turned toward the bridge and started taking photos of the structure. I had to pause intermittently to wipe raindrops from my lens. Then, there was a brief lull in the rain, so I had time to contemplate decent angles. I decided on the one you see in the photo and waited until there was a steady stream of motorbike traffic to give the photo some life. (Actually, I took a couple of pics before this one in case the rain started coming down hard again.)

A few minutes later the rain started again, but I continued on across the bridge. By the time I reached the end, the rain was pouring down. Most motorists pull over to the side of the road to take their rain parkas out from under the seats of their motorbikes upon the first few drops, but for some reason I’m quite stubborn about this. I prefer to tough it out until it reaches a point where it comes down to my getting completely drenched or not. On this day, the decision was easy. I pulled to a stop under the hanging branches of a tree and put on my parka. I felt a little discouraged because I thought I wasn’t going to be able to get some wide-angle shots of the bridge and the river. Nevertheless, I decided to drive around a little to scout out locations for future shoots. Ten minutes later, the rain stopped again and soon after that I found a nice, secluded spot with a good view of the bridge.

One final note about this day: In my youth I had some uneasiness riding over bridges stemming from dreams/nightmares that I had of bridges collapsing as I crossed them. I managed to work all of that out over the years, but I felt it again while riding on my motorbike. I guess it had something to do with being in the open air. Still, it wouldn’t stop me from returning to Long Bien Bridge.

Long Bien Bridge (Wikipedia) 

Long Bien Bridge

The story behind this photo: I set up my tripod in a fairly isolated area on the east side of the Red River to take this pic. The only sign of life was a group of men drinking at a bia hoi that sat on the opposite side of the road running along the river bank. Two of the men strayed over to see what I was up to. I must admit I was a little apprehensive. They were a little drunk and – the area being isolated – I contemplated what I would do should they try to make off with my equipment. As it turned out, they were both nice enough fellows; though they weren’t too helpful suggesting that I’d get a better picture if I held the camera in my hands. I tried to explain to them in my limited Vietnamese that the slow shutter speed wouldn’t allow a good hand-held shot, but I’m afraid I failed to get the point across as they suggested three or four more times that I should take the camera off the tripod.