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From North to South, Glimpses of Street Life in Vietnam in the Early 1990s

If there’s a thing this writer remembers distinctly about the early 1990s, it would be nothing, because I was barely a person that could eat and survive by myself.

Which makes these photos taken from 1992 to 1994 all the more fascinating because they are a hodgepodge of the familiar and the strange. I can identify all the species present in the neatly arranged pyramids of fresh fruits; I recognize the shiny and hyper-ruffled wedding gown because my sisters got married in one of those; I can read the names of the deceased inscribed on tombstones — and yet, it feels strangely voyeuristic and surreal to marvel at these images, to transiently set foot in someone’s memories, because I’ve never lived these moments.

The shots are part of a collection of travel images taken by Flickr user Laurent KB, a French tourist who traveled across Vietnam in the early 1990s. Their subject matters are nothing new, but they are valuable as reminders of a crucial time, both for the one who photographs and the ones who were photographed, we can’t get back.

Morning on Hạ Long Bay with freshly caught seafood.

The chaos of a wet market.

Spices and condiments.

A banana xích lô in Hanoi.

Tropical fruits at a market.

Rice varieties and beans.

Children frolic at a neighborhood playground.

Jet fighter-themed twister hits different.

A fishy xích lô.

A new bride on her wedding day.

A man in Hạ Long ferries coral clusters.

Rushing to work.

Sun-drenched Hạ Long.

Patterns and fabrics of the 1990s.

Ready to spice up broths and dipping sauces.

Sugar vendors at a market.

A sugar shop in Đà Lạt.

Floating on emerald.

A small hamlet on the water's surface.

Setting sail.

The rocky central coast.

Thiên Mụ Pagoda in Huế.

Artisans working on a Nguyễn-Dynasty urn.

Smile! You're on camera.

Peppa what chu doin'?

Đà Nẵng's morning fish market.

A family on their houseboat.

Drying fish in Hạ Long.

Coal mining in Quảng Ninh.

The vast nature of Điện Biên Phủ.

Xóm Bóng Bridge in Nha Trang.

Ladies mending a fishing net.

Riverine merchants in Cần Thơ.

A lady manning a stall selling utensils made of coconut husk.

Workers at a brick kiln.

An old Hanoian artist does sketches.

A busy market in Hanoi.

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