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[Photos] Exploring Saigon’s Sun-Deprived Hẻms

Saigon is full of interesting, undiscovered places. While many people have explored the alleys in their own neighborhoods, few are willing to brave the narrow, crumbling side roads that look a little darker. The dimmer alleys perhaps pose a certain risk, but if you muster your courage and take a stroll down some of the more forbidding-looking hẻms in the city, these hidden places can show you a whole different side to Saigon.

Around every corner, tucked in every doorway lies a new discovery. The buildings merge into one above your head, trapping the sun up above; when it succeeds in breaking through the clutter, the light barely reaches the ground. Sounds of karaoke machines, TV shows and children playing at all times of day make for a unique experience that's just does not happen outside of these corridors.

I have a few secret spots in the city where I like to go. I don’t tell anyone else about these darkened alleys. The people there have seen me before, and to them, I am just another part of their dimly lit world. It's a good place to disappear to for a while.

Midday nap.

The princess and the pea.

Someone didn't get their cookie.

Always time for a cheeky smile.

A shopkeeper in front of her small alley store.

Locked up for safety.

Sunlight hotspots.

Hand-painted signs are everywhere.

Everyday scene.

Shadow patterns.

A living room and kitchen.

Things for sale.

Homework break.

Fred Wissink is a Canadian photographer based in Saigon. For more of his photos, visit

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