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Photographer's Note

A bit of history about the Old Quarter:
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As the oldest continuously developed area of Vietnam, Hanoi's Old Quarter has a history that spans 2,000 years and represents the eternal soul of the city. Located between Hoan Kiem Lake and Long Bien Bridge, a former city rampart, and a citadel wall, the Old Quarter evolved into a cluster of villages made up of houses on stilts, and was unified by Chinese administrators who built ramparts around their headquarters. The area was named Dominated Annam or Protected South by the Chinese.

The Old Quarter began to acquire its reputation as a crafts area when the Vietnamese attained independence in the 11th century and King Ly Thai To built his palace there. In the early 13th century, the collection of tiny workshop villages which clustered around the palace walls evolved into craft cooperatives, or guilds. Skilled craftsmen migrated to the Quarter, and artisan guilds were formed by craftsmen originating from the same village and performing similar services. Members of the guilds worked and lived together, creating a cooperative system for transporting merchandise to the designated streets in the business quarter. Because inhabitants of each street came from the same village, streets developed a homogeneous look. Commoners' homes evolved out of market stalls, before streets were formed.

There are more than 70 streets in the area. A majority of the street names in the Old Quarter start with the word 'Hang'. 'Hang' means merchandise or shop. The guild streets were named for their product, service or location. For example, Hang Bac, one of the oldest streets in Vietnam, dates from at least the 13th century. 'Bac' means silver, and appropriately, this street started as a silver ingot factory under the reign of Le Thanh Tong (1469-1497). Thus 'Hang Bac' means Silver Shop Street.

The Old Quarter is a precious legacy of Hanoi's ancient past, but the area is being challenged now by rapid development. Historic buildings have become mass living spaces and schools as the population increases. Craft workers now constitute nine percent of the neighbourhood and traders make up 40 percent. With the new economic policies, a dramatic building boom has begun, threatening the charm of the district. Local and international agencies are now formulating plans to preserve the historic ambiance of the Old Quarter.

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A slice of life here at Hang Da or Leather Shop Street, a grab shot of a woman probably on her new shiny bike. I love her mixed emotions of surprise, anxiety, boredom, probably anger or just daydream on a cool cloudy morning as I released my shutter, but I love the direct eye contact and expression. Photographing street candid can be be very challenging but catching the surprising emotion veering into the viewfinder is exciting stuff indeed. Human actions and reactions take time and they tend to play out on their own.

For one second her face says a lot...

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Additional Photos by abmdsudi abmdsudi (abmdsudi) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3968 W: 144 N: 9112] (39522)
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