Thanh-Hue Nguyen

Floating lives in the capital
Location: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Nationality: Vietnamese
Biography: Thanh Hue is a freelance photojournalist currently based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Her focus is on documentary photography and human-centered issues, specifically private living spaces. Hue began her career documenting groups that... read on
Public Story
Floating lives in the capital
Copyright Thanh-Hue Nguyen 2022
Updated Nov 2021
Location Hanoi, Vietnam
Archived as ,
For the past 20 years, the boat anchored along the Red river has been the home to hundreds of migrant workers from Ba Vi, a district on the outskirt of Hanoi. Moving to the capital with the hope of earning a living, they rented a small space on the boat with a low rent of 10,000VND (~0,44USD) a day per person that includes clean water, which is much cheaper than that on land.

From 50 to 70 people share the living space on the two-level boat, tied to an iron staircase on the Red River bank by a rope. Cheap rent means low living quality; on the edge of downtown Hanoi surrounded by luminous streets, they have been living without electricity for decades. In the evening, few outsiders can tell from the flickering light source of battery-powered bulbs that there are people living on that boat.

27 years is a period long enough for a person to move on to a new stage in life. Within that time, Hanoi has transformed radically, with new buildings and infrastructures incessantly sprouting up. Yet the boat that dates back to 1992 remains unchanged, continuously providing shelter for generations of workers migrating from Ba Vi to the capital city to make ends meet. Married couples move to Hanoi with a view to supporting their children back home, and many children drop out of school to come here and help contribute to their family income.

Hanoi, from 2018 to 2019.


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