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Hanoi Banana Market

December 1998: Banana market on the Red River, Hanoi, Viet nam.

I was there for five days in '98, helping Nescafe fabricate an untruth that the whole world unites in the enjoyment of their icky coffee-flavoured drink. We went all over the world with this for Paul Arden, whose curious but utterly original vision for Nescafe was, alas, at odds with how they saw the campaign. Much to everyone's chagrin, the ads were shelved and our paymasters at Nestle went with something a lot more conventional.

But I got to go to Hanoi. What a marvelous place. More bicycles than you can shake a stick at, and everyone's front rooms in the old French-Colonial city seemed to flow out onto the streets. Wealthier parts looked like Paris suburbs, and streetsellers tried to flog us stamps, old banknotes and bootleg copies of Graham Greene's 'The Quiet American'. If you get the opportunity, go.

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