Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hanoi - Long Bien Bridge as designed by Gustave Eiffel

Date of visit: 1st January 2015

Anne asked me to stop talking about Gustave Eiffel just to show how important for me to witness with my own eyes the Long Bien Bridge said to be design by the famous Gustave Eiffel whose name is as big as the "Eiffel Tower" in Paris. I did stop talking about it as soon as she said okay for us to made a quick stop for a photo (she stayed inside the cab after handed me her camera as I left mine in the hotel while charging). Some people said that it is hard for him to believe when he learnt that Gustave Eiffel, was the man behind Eiffel Tower in Paris was actually plays a part in building the Long Bien Bridge, formerly known as Paul Doumer Bridge in Hoan Kiem Hanoi. As soon as I laid my eyes on it, I have no doubt at all that the "Cai Long Bien" was indeed has his touch as well as other historical buildings in Saigon, i.e. Central Post Office

A beauty of Long Bien Bride @ Cai Long Bien in locals

Cau Long Bien known by locals or Long Bien Bridge is a historic cantilever bridge across the Red River that connects two districts, Hoan Kiem and Long Bien of the city of Hanoi, Vietnam. It was originally called Paul Doumer Bridge. The bridge was built in 1899-1902 by the architects Dayde & Pille of Paris, which was opened to public in 1903. Before North Vietnam's independence in 1954, it was called Paul-Doumer Bridge, named after Paul Doumer, the Governor General of French Indochina and then French president. At 2.4 kilometres in length, it was, at that time, one of the longest bridges in Asia. For the French colonial government, the construction was of strategic importance in securing control of northern Vietnam. From 1899 to 1902, more than 3,000 Vietnamese took part in the construction. Qualification: 2 below photos were the images that I downloaded from the internet, not my own as I did not get a chance to walk on it.

The bridge was heavily bombarded during Vietnam War due to its critical position as it stood as the only bridge at that time across the Red River connecting Hanoi to the main port of Haiphong. The first attack took place in 1967, and the center span of the bridge felled by another attack. It was recorded in the CIA reports that the severing of the bridge did not appear to have caused as much disruption as had been expected. However, the defence of Long Bien Bridge continues to play a large role in Hanoi’s self-image and is often extolled in poetry and song.

Some parts of the original structure remain intact, while large sections of the bridge was built later as part of its refurbishment. Only half of the bridge retains its original shape at present. Now, a project with support and loan from the French government is currently in progress to restore the bridge to its original appearance, being 1 of the attraction to the city. Trains, mopeds, bicycles and pedestrians use the dilapidated bridge, while all other traffic is diverted to the nearby Chuong Duong Bridge and a newly built bridges, Thanh Tri Bridge, Thang Long Bridge, Vinh Tuy Bridge and Nhat Tan Bridge. You may be able to see that some poor families live in boats on the Red River, coming from many rural areas of Vietnam under the Long Bien bridge.

I rushed back to the cab as soon as I satisfied with all the photos that I snapped for my blog entry. In my opinion, the Long Bien Bridge is a reminder of Hanoi's French past. A colonial era construction is particularly revered by residents of Vietnam's capital, which requires protection and proper maintenance to maintain its historical value. It was one of the most spectacular bridges in the world when it opened in 1903 where the railway line that links Hanoi with the port city of Haiphong was in operation and was once, a strategically vital, first helping swell the economic prosperity of Indochina. Later it serves as a supply route for besieged French soldiers fighting Vietnamese nationalists. Today the train is only carrying passengers, most of the freight seems to be balanced on the back of motorcycles. 

The future of this much-cherished landmark is up for debate. Half a dozen bridges cross the river now, and there was a talk of tunnels as well. The city has growing wealth means the traffic-flow on the city's roads gets ever busier, even the Vietnamese Railways wanted to reroute their track but I hope the Vietnam Government shall preserve it well. 

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