The View From Your Window Contest: Winner #22


A reader writes:

Great photo. An interesting mix of old and new. The vase on the balcony and pointed green roof tells us that it's Asia.  The mould on the walls says the humid Southeast Asia.  The architecture is old with evidence of new buildings.  The sky doesn't look so polluted, so a fairly open area. I am guessing Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur?

Another writes:

The construction of the buildings and balconies are concrete based.  This leads me to think that the picture was taken in a developing country.  A water tank on the roof of one of the neighboring buildings also supports that hypothesis.  The red corrugated roof with a flame-like capitol on one end makes me think that the building is either in Southeast Asia or south India.  The large high-rise in the background suggests an urban environment.  I am going to go with south India, in a state called Kerala, and in a city called Ernakulam, which is adjacent to Kochi (formerly known as Cochin).


Jakarta, Indonesia? The largest factor in my guess: the balconies in Indo look exactly like they do in this picture, right down to the paint colours, types of tile used, and the fungus on the stonework.  The spires on the red roof also look Indonesian.


Finally, a return to the island of Java that I miss so much!

The roof tops of different colors and slopes, the awkward balcony, the broad high rise in the background - it could only be Indonesia's most populated isle. However, it's a tossup as to where and which city it is. I'm going to take a stab and guess Surabaya.


I'm thinking Singapore City, a mile or so from the river, based on how the buildings seem to stop abruptly in distance. Architectural style seems to be something between Chinese and Malaysian.  Everything's white, like most buildings in Singapore. Cloud cover makes it looks like the picture was taken near an ocean, probably tropical. So yeah, I'm saying Singapore City.


I'm going to say Bangkok because I used to live there, still have family there, and visit fairly often. This looks like many urban views from the elevated sky train (BTS) that runs through the middle of the city, particularly the roof style, new-but-dirty construction in the near view, optimistic and gleaming office sky-rises in the background ... it all says Bangkok. The balcony in the foreground is likely a red herring, as you can get any kind of tile work done in Bangkok, if you're willing to pay for it or if your condo builder/association has decided that it's in vogue.


I'm thinking its Macau, China. The Google map images are blurry and don't zoom to street level, so it's a wild guess. Can I get extra points for giving the location in three languages? (Macao Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China - aka -  ?????????????? -  aka -  Região Administrativa Especial de Macau da República Popular da Chinaac).


I've been following this for months.  Usually off by a continent or two every time. This time will be different.

All the balconies are caged in and the building on the right has French shutters.  This has to be a former French Indochina country - Viet Nam, Cambodia, or Laos.  The clincher is that letter "A" on the water tank has a diacritical mark, which suggests that it's Vietnamese.  The newer building in the background has to be from one of two booming cities in Viet Nam, either Saigon or Hanoi.  Since I was born and raised in Saigon, I'll take it as my final answer.  Maybe in the District 1 area?

Now mail me my book.  Thank you.


Very skinny buildings? Water tanks? Strange encaged rooftop patios?  Gotta be Ho Chi Minh City.  But I don't recognize the modern building on the horizon.


Those are the Vincom City Towers in Hanoi. You are looking east toward the towers. I don't think that the picture was taken from as far west as Thong Nhat Park. My best guess (without having much Google street view in Hanoi) is that this is somewhere around 21.009560627° Latitude and 105.845876337° Longitude.

My partner and I are making plans for our first trip to Vietnam next year. Because of that, I've spent hours looking at maps and images of Hanoi and the rest of the country.

Hanoi is the correct answer, but the following reader was both first and the most memorable - and thus the winner:

Well, this is rather disheartening for me.  I know that the buildings in the background are the Vincom City Towers in Hanoi.  Unfortunately, I'm not adept enough at Google Earth to get any closer than Hai Bà Tr?ng, Hà N?i, Vietnam for my answer. 

What makes this such a bummer is that my Dad lived in Hanoi as a POW for six years (1967 - 1973), so I really really really want to win this one.  (And yes, he was held captive with John McCain for a while.) I've been thinking about Hanoi quite a lot lately because my brother recently unearthed some old Air Force footage of my Dad's repatriation.  It's hard to describe the emotions that video elicits: a remembrance both of great pain and great joy.

One final, incredible entry:

This is Van Ho 3, Le Dai Hanh ward, Hai Ba Trung district, Hanoi, Vietnam. (Lat. 21.02539  Longitude: 105.85396)  As far as the apartment number, the Yahoo and Google maps list it as 1 van ho 3 - but that is not accurate.  Most residents list their alley and nearest intersection as part of the address. I could email the occupant but thought that might be inappropriate.

This was much tougher than expected. I am sure some seasoned travelers identified the correct city (Hanoi) instantly. But I've never been fortunate to travel overseas. I thought it would be easy to identify a pair of twin octagonal towers (Vincom City Towers), but that search was futile. I mistakenly thought those stainless steel tanks on the rooftops were A/C condensers and that set me back a bit.  As it turns out, Hanoi residents place water tanks on the roof due to the lack of water pressure.  The tanks are periodically filled by pumping water from the street.

Ultimately, I narrowed my search to the former French Indochina, specifically urban areas with a lack of hi-rise buildings with a hint of French architecture and colorful rooftops.  Hanoi was probably the third city I examined.  As soon as I saw some pictures of those Hanoi rooftops, I knew I had the right place. I then went to a skyscraper website and got a list of all the hi-rise buildings in Hanoi.  There were only a few sets of matching towers, so Vincom City Towers was easy to identify.

But finding the location of the photographer was more difficult than I ever imagined. There are not many photographs of the area on the web, and the mapping imagery is poor.  I found a few good pics taken from the upper floors of Vincom Towers and that helped narrow it. So I just started searching for pics by street names of where I suspected the pic was taken.  In searching "van ho 3" I looked through dozens of apartment rentals before stumbling upon the Flickr page of the current occupant.  When I googled his name, I found his blog (where he lists the The Daily Dish as one of his favorite sites). Buried in one of his sets on his Flickr page I found other pics from the same apartment rental.

So now I know who sent you the photo.  Here's a pic from the same balcony:


I previously won the Bahrain contest.  Is this good enough for no. 2?  :)

Only one win per person. But that's definitely going in the VFYW hall of fame.