The wonder of Bridges

I went out today and walked and looked and enjoyed a day that seems to have the weather transitioning from really hot to cooler days in anticipation of rain one of the restaurant owners of the Aroma Pizza place told me as I walked past today.

I usually pick a direction to walk on the spur of the moment; however today I wanted to revisit this walking only bridge across the Han River. There is something about its quiet and solitude which got me the last time. You see, I love bridges. I love the tapestry and feeling of a bridge. The fact it takes you from here to there and back again if you so wish. It also has a character and mood and feeling.Some bridges stretch across great waters while others cross the sky like the Golden Bridge in the Ba Na Hills in Da Nang. Yet other bridges are small and cross little dirt backroads and let you see how much history has gone down as you carefully traverse.

Many cities I’ve been lucky to visit are bridge cities. Hiroshima, Osaka, Vancouver, San Francisco. All have bridges. Some are utilitarian and allow commuters to go from here to there. Others like the bridge today are quiet affairs that allow foot traffic only. Then there is the Long Bien Bridge in Hanoi. Bombed and rebuilt numerous times, it juts out in the city and you can walk it if you choose. Only motorbikes and pedestrians and the train are allowed on it now. You can tell though as you look at its span you are seeing some history. The old foundations have drawings and murals depicting the construction. History of it discusses the many times it was bombed out. Yet there it still is. I wonder how many visitors to Hanoi have seen that bridge. Its out of the way and you have to know what to look for. If you walk to the historic water tank you are close. Go north of the Hoan Kiem Lake and tourist central on any road. Maybe have cellular data on one of the networks to help you along. You will start seeing the bridge foundations and may find the historic water tank first. From the bridge you can walk all the way. Its kind of a scary walk at places so I turned around half way.

I have found and loved other bridges. In Hiroshima, there are small bridges with lights on them at dusk to help guide the way. These become somewhat mysterious and alluring as night falls. You find yourself taken by their soft spell. The lonely stone abutments form the foundations and you see sometimes a person walking the bridge. Not big bridges but they take a person from here to there. Bridges in Hiroshima are these neighborhood affairs.

I love bridges! Big bridges that carry payload and small bridges that carry dreams. The dragon bridge that lights up Da Nang skies at night and makes the evening even more photogenic. The footpath only bridge I walked today with its quiet moments. You can feel its history too. Lines painted. Moods absorbed. Time does not stand still and water courses below. Sometimes when I lived in California and would get over by the Dumbarton Bridge at golden hour, I could hear the bridge talking and whispering as the evening wind blew. It was the song of cars and steel. Other bridges carry people and you know those talk differently.

Walking a bridge gives the walker a different feeling. You are taken up and over a barrier or a railroad or freeway. Its can be utilitarian or ceremonial. A thing of beauty or a thing of concrete and work.

Next time you see a bridge, give it some love. It does a lonely job and lets you perhaps wander in thought and deed over its path.

Author: Michael Perry

I've been blogging for over 20 years and now am living in Southeast Asia. The blog is about my slow vagabonding wherever I want to go. My home base is in Cambodia but I'm rarely there.