In English, “monkey bride” is the highest navigational bridge on a ship; a small (often open) deck above the pilot house where a ship is steered and the captain stands.
In Vietnam, it is about crossing a river precariously balanced on two bamboo poles. Recently, local government has decided to get rid of these dangerous bridges and have them replaced with a concrete approach instead. And soon, all about Vietnamese monkey bridge is only a picture from the past…
Actually, monkey bridge takes it title from the fragile structures that span the rivers of Vietnam. With a single bamboo pole for the traveler’s feet, another providing a hand railing, and vines and mangrove roots holding the two together, it became topic for an American author to write a famous book under same title: born and raised in Vietnam until she came to America at the age of thirteen, Lan Cao has distinguished herself in remarkably diverse ways. A politics major at MHC, she went on to earn a law degree from Yale. She secured a prestigious clerkship with a U.S. district judge, then worked at a large New York law firm before becoming an international law professor at Brooklyn Law School. As if these accomplishments weren't enough, Cao recently published her novel, Monkey Bridge, which the New York Times hailed for its "authoritative and subtly nuanced delineation of character and place." In her memory, the bridge seems an irresistible metaphor for a young immigrant girl traversing worlds. The image, however, did not drive the book. “When I wrote the novel, I didn’t think of the term monkey bridge,” Cao explains. “That came to me when I was in Vietnam in 1996. I took a car to visit my uncle in the Mekong Delta, and the streets in Vietnam are terrible, filled with potholes, and what should take an hour took about five, so I got to see a lot of the countryside. I noticed these monkey bridges all along the route. They look like they were not built by humans, almost as if they were artistically conceived. So, I thought that was a great metaphor for the book: a traditional bridge that is hard to cross but also a bridge from war to peace, from any kind of pain to a process of reconciliation and healing.”
FYI, further info about Vietnamese monkey bridge can be found here:
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Critiques | Translate
entrelec (8328) 2005-05-22 6:17
Very graphic picture, really well composed. I like the diaphanic clothes and this under tree lightening.So elegant women!
don_narayan (2014) 2005-05-22 6:18
Great shot, the women look like they are walking on air. They seem angelic in this shot, all in white in a dark atmosphere.
baba_flies (8829) 2005-05-22 6:27
The women are so elegant and graceful. Great picture. Thanks for showing.
KevRyan (22956) 2005-05-22 7:06
Beutiful graceful shapes crossing the crudest of wooden bridges - delightful picture .
Kenny10pin (19301) 2005-05-22 7:32
very interesting picture of this monkey bridge, I saw some of these in Vietnam last year, they are interesting but I wouldnt be seen crossing the bridge with my camera
NgocSon (282) 2005-05-22 7:38
Thank you for bringing this to us, and for recording a piece of souvenir when all cầu khỉ are converted to "béton".
shangri-la (353) 2005-05-22 8:57
very beautiful & romantic picture!
sparkle (108) 2005-05-22 10:06
Wonderful image... so magical! The notes are really helpful and the border works well with the simplicity of colours in the shot. very effective!
gren4 (603) 2005-05-22 11:02
I like the lighting on the subjects here creating a very delicate feel to the picture.I am not sure that I like the black border as some of the colours in the background are not so saturated and the black and white of the border show this up.The photo itself I really like.
tongapup (0) 2005-05-22 12:14
Very nice. It is an ethereal image, especially with that lighting. But the background seems very dark. Also the frame is too assertive for my liking, but that is purely personal taste.
Great note! Very informative!
Update: I've posted a b&w workshop because the colour seemed a bit washed out in the background. I like it somewhat, although I will say that I prefer the colour for the women's clothing.
PeterDF (421) 2005-05-22 12:49
A stunning photograph and a very interesting note about the bridges. The lighting on these girls is very remarkable as it highlights the details on their clothing. Really very beautiful!
mareseye (1209) 2005-05-23 2:36
Really beautiful ! You give us an incredible image, with these two graces crossing the bridge. It seems unreal. The contrast between the white of girls and the border of bridge and the darkness all around.
DrorAngkor (164) 2005-05-23 21:27
Extremely well done ! Perfect shot !
Vietnamese ladies with ao dai are so
beautifull it is difficult to wreck a photo of them, but this shot of them crossing one of the thousands of monkey bridges is fantastic and superb!
There are tens of thousands of monkey bridges in the delta,it will take many years before they are a thing of the past.
As beautifull as they are "cimang" bridges
are much more sensible and comfortable for the people!
I love this picture !
Thanks for the extremely detailed note!
jeanfrancois (1260) 2005-05-25 18:04
This is just magic. Nothing can be more beautiful than these vietnamese suits.
ninadev (5377) 2005-05-30 20:46
Again here a fantastic shot, something never seen evey with all these photographers going in VN. These white ladies are almost like ghosts or angels crossing the bridge. What are they, students ?
As in the "salt" picture, here too we don't see their faces and the mystery is working very well.
hantulaut (3441) 2005-06-12 8:12
stunning images, very good catch
msirois (275) 2005-06-12 8:28
This is a beautiful picture. The composition is elegant, with the bridge creating a diagonal flow across the image, and the contrasting colors between the women's clothing and the background draw our focus to the women. Also, the way the thin stripes of light fall strongly on the footrail and the handrail set off the bridge perfectly. Well done.
saigon (6443) 2005-06-12 8:33
bon contraste et couleurs!
El_Coyote (38) 2005-06-12 8:40
this picture looks absolutely fabulous. Excellent composition and lighting.
did you add the "glow" to the dresses afterwards?
apache (1426) 2005-06-17 14:27
A very lovely note to go along with your splendid picture. Very artistic portrayal on the way the young ladies cross the bridge as if it is a quite normal thing to do.
Technically, i love the effect the white dress has on the dark background. A blend of civilization and the jungles...
Great shot Nhiem.
Svillegas (1169) 2005-11-30 7:27
Spectacular photo, great composition
onmax (849) 2005-11-30 7:45
Hola, Nhiem Hoang, muy buen comentario, claro que acompaña muy bien la fotografia, es muy particular la vida de esas personas y un momento cotidiano para ellas tu lo has guardado eternamente en una fotografia.
dream (159) 2005-11-30 7:52
This photo is like Viatnamese Lord of the rings scene.Beautiful
bamby_w (19) 2005-11-30 7:57
good contrast. and the shadowing adds to the feeling of floating and serenity. I love it.
tobourge (971) 2005-12-22 5:14
Very nice and impressive shot. Just wonderful!
Thanks for sharing
pablominto (53746) 2005-12-22 5:19
This is an awesome composition, where the angle of lighting gives amazing effects as seen against the dark rain forest! The fact they both wear white enhances the effect... Good dynamic lines
alita (477) 2005-12-22 5:19
very beautiful shot, with the two girls' figures,
Nice composition and colors,
Bernard (226) 2006-04-01 21:11
Great composition & well balance photo. The woman are very elegant. Thanks for the great note - keep up with the good work!
kittyhawk (1692) 2006-05-23 5:15
Hello Nhiem Hoang,
Very nice photo, I like the composition and detail. I like the detail in the image. TFS.
P.S. I do not know if this is the national costume of Vietnam, but when ever I hear talk about vietnamese women I think of them dressed like this. So I hope you don't mind me entering this photo to the theme "National costumes of the world."
Valeisha (197) 2006-05-23 5:44
What beautiful light captured. And I love the story. I had no idea this existed in the world. The picture is well-composed too. Thank you for sharing.
bturk74 (330) 2006-05-23 5:46
the photo gives such a relaxing feeling and they are so elegant.
kobal (23) 2006-05-23 6:07
Very good contrast on this photo.
Look like a movie in fact.
USErin (189) 2006-07-14 16:17
This photo is from a dream. Thank you for sharing; it is magical.
Bluejeans (64249) 2006-07-28 18:49
Fantastica foto Nhiem Hoang Parabens
chamkhalaf (249) 2006-10-09 15:16
very nice shot&good composition
your photo have a good light& conterast
i love this spacees
Seiei (444) 2006-11-05 10:38
very nice shot
and very good explication
nitinjamdar (522) 2006-11-05 10:50
Great composition and light.Thanks for posting
Ghivelder (0) 2006-11-05 11:01
Beautiful!!! The girls look like they come from another dimension...
keribar (43841) 2006-11-05 11:02
One of the best pictures Ive seen on Te lately. Congratulations: There is an elegant diagonal and very pastel colors, the two conical hatted women are not blocking each other and are not separated either, and stay at the best possible place on the bridge. The almost mmonochrome hue gives an additional atmosphere to this lovely shot. Bets regards
AnaFrantz (636) 2006-11-06 12:14
Great picture, great moment well caputred. Everthing about your composition is just so perfect and simetric. Very Beutifull and elegant picture, says a lot! Keep up the god work and thanks for sharing your view of the world!
jrleborgne (1554) 2006-11-09 8:49
I totally agree with Entrelec's comment (2005-05-22).
Great picture for its frame, lighting and elegant touch.
branley (3681) 2006-11-09 17:51
I saw your image on the main page and just had to say how fantastic it is. The elegance of the women in their beautiful white dresses and conical hats set against the rough, dark structure of the bridge is just superb. A wonderful capture, well done.
Minh_ducb (23) 2007-01-05 17:28
The typical picture to recognize Vietnam.
beautifil ladies in oa dai.
They are really place in the spotlights => such white clothes in the middle of mother nature.
Jason_teale (717) 2007-02-02 23:32
Great shot! I think the note about the bridge is great but I think the figures on the bridge is what makes this shot perfect! They themselves symbolize Vietnam, to me anyway. Great work!
nevilzaveri (217) 2007-02-02 23:58
excellent soft dream-like image. great composition and light.
LucyA (0) 2007-03-28 7:36
Amazing! I like this picture. It looks like as if the ladies in their white garments are shining and weightless. The contrast of white and dark is impressive.
happypoppeye (4819) 2007-04-11 0:07
Simply excellent. Great photo.
ps- In the first sentence of your comment you have "bride" instead of "bridge".
zumoduvas (2069) 2007-04-28 19:40
Excellent picture, nice composition and colors.
waseemkhan (1099) 2007-06-15 10:27
Hi Nhiem ,
very interesting picture of this monkey bridge, I saw some of these in Vietnam last year, they are interesting but I wouldnt be seen crossing the bridge with my camera..................
rubisheikh (77) 2007-06-15 11:04
Very interesting photo,well done TFS
emn (251) 2007-08-23 6:15
Such a nice subject you brought to us. For that i thank you.
It's sad that most of the times, concrete takes ahed from the acient styles. But this are our minds, as humans, achiving new technologies that makes those kind of things happen. It has to beggin with our mind to preserv what we still have that identifies our cultures and ways of living.
Now talking about this amazing picture, i can tell that the girls makes me remind two brides, very elegant. That´s funny cause it's so simply light.
Very good composition.
sabermonajati (10545) 2009-11-09 3:13
two ladys with white drees exist nice composition.
Merou (4726) 2010-04-12 14:05
Very nice shot. I like the composition
Noel_Byrne (27732) 2012-03-30 6:04
The only word I can think to describe this is ethereal. Stunning image, and thank you so much for sharing.
Best wishes from ireland
aliabazari (16067) 2012-10-12 18:58
Hello dear friend
The combination of a beautiful and attractive display. Exposure and depth of the well.
- Copyright: Nhiem Hoang (hoangthenhiem) (2531)
- Genre: People
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2004-12-12
- Categories: Artwork
- Camera: Sigma SD10, Sigma 100-300 w/ Mac, CF Card iso 100
- Exposure: f/9.0, 1/50 seconds
- Details: Tripod: Yes
- More Photo Info: view
- Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
- Theme(s): MEKONG — The River of our Planet, National costumes of the world., Inspirational Vietnam photos, mon hommage à l'Asie, Favourites 5, CLODO's selection XIII, Kasia's Favourites 5 [view contributor(s)]
- Date Submitted: 2005-05-22 6:12
- Favorites: 25 [view]