Amazing Load Balancing Acts on Vietnamese Bikes

Amazing Load Balancing Acts on Vietnamese Bikes

A droll collection of photographs showing Vietnamese bikes happily balancing huge unwieldy burdens.

Navigating through throngs of crowd on a motorbike with a ridiculous number of egg cartons seems impossible, but that doesn’t stop the Vietnamese bikes from balancing their burdens like a master acrobat.

In Ho Chi Minh City, locals are marvellously skilled at riding motorcycles – while carrying massive quantities of eggs, hula hoops, dogs (?!) and even bags of goldfish! You name it, they carry it!

When Dutch photographer Hans Kemp came to Vietnam, he did not expect to enter a world of incredible feats and balance acts. “There were entire families on a bike, guys in suits, girls dolled up. I stood there mesmerised, intoxicated by this all-permeating scent of petrol mixed with perfume, sound, colour, and motion,” he said.

Amazed by what he saw, Kemp documented some of the most incredible delivery bikes in his book Bikes of Burden.

“I took some images and it really hit me how amazing this part of life in Vietnam was,” said Kemp. “Funny how you can live somewhere and settle into this ‘normality’ mode, because you see things every day, you get used to it that you don’t really see it anymore. So this small job was like the seed and it really rooted in my head what a great and unique part of everyday life! I had to document it.”

Also read: So You Think You Can Speak Vietnamese?

Kemp learnt a few tricks himself – in order to catch some good shots of his subjects, he would drive his own motorbike taxi at a high speed and photograph the subject when his bike was parallel to it. He paraded around the entire city for hundreds of hours on his motorbike and captured some of the most impressive feats of Vietnam.

Kemp began this project because he wanted to capture this particular part of the Vietnamese culture before it disappears. The widening roads and increasing disposable incomes in Vietnam has left the bike culture vulnerable to modernisation. Soon, locals may switch modes of transportation to trucks. Beginning the project in 1995, Kemp is happy to find that bikes are still the current mode of transport in Vietnam.

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Image credits: Hans Kemp, Bikes of Burden

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Anisha Charan

Swimming through deep waters or scaling down the side of a cliff, Anisha has an adventurous spirit that ignites her love for travelling. A girl in love with nature, she is passionate about protecting the environment and saving endangered species. She hopes to retire in a Scottish castle one day with a large pile of fictional books and some lovely hot chocolate.

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