The Red River, Hanoi

Posted on June 2nd, by Marie Louden-Hanes in Asia's Eastern Edge: A Photo Journal of Vietnam. 1 Comment


Hanoi at night

Late night: Hanoi


Early morning: Hanoi

The Red River, even in the light haze of early morning, is clearly visible from a window high above central Hanoi. Similar to the pattern of life in much of Vietnam, the people here are awake and on the move at this early predawn hour.  This is a routine shaped by the climate in an attempt to escape the suffocating high heat and humidity of mid day and early afternoon.

My hotel is the Chalcedony on Nguyen Truong To. Upon return to Hanoi in a few years, this will be my preference for accommodations while in the city. For the few extra U.S. dollars it is well worth the overnight escape from the crush of people and the chaos of the surrounding heat of the city during the height of the tourist season.  And at 4:30 this morning I heard a rooster (I am on the fifth floor) as clearly as if I were waking up in Ohio’s midwest surrounded by cornfields and cattle farms!

We will leave at 7:30 a.m.for an overnight excursion on Halong Bay in the Quang Ninh Province.  Though to experience its natural beauty it will require yet another long bus ride. This time the trip will cover only 170 kilometers as we head to the northeast and perhaps a relief from the heat of Hanoi.

The temperature in Hanoi is – as everyone promised – much hotter and more humid than Saigon 1138 kilometers to the south!


Above the Red River: Hanoi

From the window, I watch the Red River as it moves steadily toward the delta. It is unassuming as its headwaters flow alongside the heavily populated downtown area of this capital city. On another summer’s day, though,  more than forty years ago during the height of the war years, the river rose to unexpected and unprecedented heights. The date was August 1, 1971. Torrential rains overwhelmed the dike systems and the onslaught of the rushing water surprised and then consumed more than 100,000 inhabitants of Hanoi.

Because of  the timing of the flood during the war years, little information regarding the aftermath was recorded of this disaster. What is known, however, is the life-giving river that had provided water for irrigation of valuable crops and arenas for fisheries and water for daily living had gone mad and in its madness had destroyed life and imposed unprecedented severe and long-lasting hardships on the survivors.Hanoi Red River2

Floods continue to disrupt life along the Red River (notable is the flood of 1984).  The people, though, exhibit a resilience and a willingness to defend their place along the river. The people of Hanoi who live alongside the heavily populated downtown area of this capital city of Hanoi, Vietnam give the land its character and enhance its natural beauty.


One thought on “The Red River, Hanoi

  1. Marie, I love reading your blog. Will you have the chance to visit Da Nang? If so, you may want to stop at the Bread of Life. ( The mission of the American couple who run this restaurant are focused on providing young Deaf people of Vietnam a skill and employment while also learning English. They serve traditional American food which you might enjoy for a change while abroad. The people are lovely there and they enjoy it when foreigners visit so they can practice their English skills.

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