Day 5 - 15th June

Corner Street Restaurant

(Quán Bia Hơi Bát Đàn)

As the new day dawns, we’re already on the move. Our first stop is a restaurant at a crossroads, a place that will later bustle with life and energy, where the scent of steaming Phở soups and freshly brewed coffee fills the air. But for now, it’s dead quiet.

I pull out my camera and search for the right shot, but this morning it seems as if I just can’t hit the mark. Each time I press the shutter, it feels as if something’s missing. I look for activity, for people engrossed in their tasks; but the colours, textures, and reflections here only become apparent in the evening through others’ photographs.

Bamboo Revisited

Bamboo Street

Our next stop is Bamboo Street. I’ve been here before. Well, it’s just as captivating as the first time around. The bamboo goods strewn everywhere create a chaos that feels strangely organised. I’m yet to see the bigger picture. The workers seem either spaced out or bored, or maybe both? Today, my camera catches just a few details, like a teapot or some free-roaming chickens.


(Đình Đông Thành)

I venture into the tranquillity of the Đông Thành Temple. The deep silence of this place is broken only by the monotonous prayers of a lone man. Before me, many precious artefacts unfold, such as a bronze-cast statue of the Saint Huyền Thiên Trấn Vũ, stone tablets from the Nguyễn era, and the oldest royal decrees of the Thiệu Trị period. I observe these artefacts, trying to capture their history through my lens.

This is indeed a fascinating place. Bright and colourful offerings catch my eye: red and gold packages of sweets or bundles of mock banknotes, meticulously arranged and presented. Carved snakes twist and turn on the ceiling, and crane figures stand tall in the aisle. Everywhere I turn, there are figurative representations of saints, silent witnesses to a profound religiosity and history.

City Gate, from Above this Time

Once again, I find myself in front of the Ô Quan Chưởng city gate. We try to capture it better this time. But one issue is the gate’s positioning. At ground level, the massive walls feel rather oppressive, and its true splendour is hard to capture. Just as we recognise this challenge, a new perspective emerges.

I ask at a neighbouring soup kitchen if there’s a way to view the gate from above. A local resident, understanding my request, invites us into his first-floor flat. From there, we have a good vantage point of the gate from above. Suddenly, the old walls come into a new light, and we can grasp the gate’s scale in relation to its surroundings. With this fresh perspective, I finally manage shots that truly encapsulate the ancient city gate in all its glory.