Urban snoozes in Hanoi

By Pham Van   July 24, 2016 | 10:00 pm PT
Hanoi's poorest shelter in the shadow of the rapidly expanding city.

In Vietnam, taking a quick nap at work has become an entrenched habit. Countless studies have proven the indisputable benefit of a quick nap during the day. Many companies have incorporated the post-lunch nap into their work flow. But how about those without a proper workplace?

As the cities move upwards with skytrains and overpasses, vast shady areas present welcome respite from the sun. As they move downwards with subways and underpasses, there are even more spaces to escape the baking heat.

In a country like Vietnam, those without a proper workplace make up a large part of the workforce, so they make use of these covered spaces to avoid the heat of the most unproductive period of the day, noon.


A cool and windy road divider beneath the elevated Ring Road 3 in Hanoi is the place to take forty winks for many workers.


From 11:30 a.m., scores of people line the two-kilometer-long divider for a nap, while it’s 37 degrees Celsius out in the sun.


Most of them are from other provinces and work as motorbike taxi drivers and street vendors.


The space beneath the road is well ventilated, offering protection for workers and their vehicles around noon.


“It’s hot at home and there is no one to look after my daughter too, so I let her take a nap here,” said Hoai, a street vendor, pointing to the makeshift bed of plastic stools on which her child is sleeping.


Cardboard, mats and old posters are all deployed.


“Every day, I pull over for a nap, sometimes here, sometimes there. It’s even cooler than my home sleeping here,” said Hung, a tuk-tuk driver.


A hammock slung along an iron fence beneath an overpass.


A passenger waiting for her coach sleeps under the shade of a tree. A prevailing image in Vietnam, where millions of workers and students from other provinces flock to big cities like Hanoi to work and study at universities during the week and return home at weekends.


Pedestrian foot tunnels have become a place to rest for many street vendors and workers.

Photos by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh

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