British portrait photographer Jon Enoch has just completed a project documenting the use of mopeds in Hanoi, Vietnam – just as the city announces that motorbikes will be banned by 2030 to combat pollution and traffic jams.
“Mopeds are a way of life in South East Asia, the workhorse of the city, carrying a vast and unusual array of goods,” says Jon. “When I first travelled around the area 15 years ago, the motorbikes and mopeds just astounded me. Initially, that level of traffic that never stops is overwhelming to the senses – you wonder how you’ll ever manage to cross a road.”
He continues: “After that initial shock, I began to be fascinated by the drivers and deliveries. Seeing really unusual deliveries, like a huge pile of eggs, towering bags of ice or an enormous mound of flowers, was visually so stunning I started asking people if I could take photos of them.
“There is such a skill to loading up a motorbike to this level, and knowing what your limits are, and then on top of that, getting to your destination with a full undamaged load. These motorbikes allow small businesses to operate – it’s hard to imagine what the city will look and feel like without them.”
Vietnam apparently has the highest number of motorbikes in all of South East Asia and Hanoi officials have long talked about banning them to modernise the city. There are five million motorbikes for a population of seven million – and only half a million cars.
Travelling to Vietnam in February, during the dry cooler season, Jon worked every evening to capture the stunning images in the glow of the city, each image full of atmosphere. “I had been planning this series of photographs for a really long time, so when I read that motorbikes would be banned within the next 10 years I knew I had to fly over and finish this project as soon as possible,” he said.
You can see more of Enoch’s work on his website www.jonenoch.com.
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