Drinking so many Vietnamese sweet coffees with condense milk I can even count on one hand, trying to cross to the other side of the street when so many motor bikes are zooming around, Overlooking Ho Chi Minn city at night from the Rex hotel’s rooftop, helium balloons, street food vendors, walking to Ben Thanh Market and having Pho noodle soup for breakfast, squeezing lime into the soup, adding red hot chili peppers, The Notre Damn Church outside of Paris, Cu Chi Tunnels, walking barefoot into the Cao Dai Temple exactly at noon time, Spring rolls and Shrimps at the night market. Sitting on a stool among the locals while having dinner and experiencing all the cheers and celebrations of the Tet Holiday. Staying at the old French Quarter in Hanoi, right next to the St. Joseph Cathedral. Waking up every morning to the sound of bells of the Cathedral and heading for a run along the Hoan Kiem lake, Tai Chi in front of the red Tortoise Tower, walking around the ’36 streets’, looking all day long for a steam Bao and finding it at the bakery next door. Sofitel Metropole Hotel almost every night to get a fast internet connection, passing through the Opera house on my way back. Mango and Pineapple on a stick covered with sweet chili, Halong Bay in the fog, Taking the night train to Sapa and walking almost half day inside a foggy cloud, Baguette and chocolate for breakfast at the Austrian coffee shop, Kit Kat Village, taking the night train back to Hanoi at the same day. Hoa Lo Prison, Tran Quac Pagoda, and giving some fake money to the Gods. Temple of Literature, Ho Chi Minn Mausoleum and walking back through the Ba Dinh Square. Drinking lemon tea and eating sunflowers seeds like the locals do. Getting to Hoian just on time for the Full Moon Lantern Festival, floating a paper lantern on the Thu Bon River on that very special night and praying for some good luck. Sweet potato and coconut green bean cake almost every day. Condense Milk out of the can almost every morning, Grilled corn with chili lime sauce. Waking up at 4 am in the morning just to see the sunrise in a fishermen market. Speaking in English but have no one actually understands you, but still making your way around in a smooth way….Priceless!
“…A smile is the only crooked line that sets a lot of things straight…”
Sapa, Vietnam, February, 2012
I just got back from Sapa in the north of Vietnam, where I was hoping to take pictures of the beautiful endless rice fields and terraces. I say ‘Hoping’ because from the minute I arrived there till the minute I left, it was quite rainy and foggy. Least to say, I was quite disappointed. In fact, very disappointed that I got back to Hanoi at the same day, getting on the first night train back.
However, in between my back and forth train rides I still got a chance to eat the best Pho soup (in an outdoor market among the locals) and walk with two other photographers down the hill towards Cat Cat Village, which is a home to the Black Hmong people.
The only way to discover Cat Cat village and its people is by taking the steep stairs down the rice terraces to see the waterfalls. On my way downward I passed through this little girl who was running up the hills. I managed to pull out my camera very quick and take a picture of her before she ran away. When she saw my camera she made this silly smile. No doubt it was such a nice smile that it brightened up my so far depressive day.
It is not that difficult to find laundry in Vietnam. It is everywhere! In fact, I’m not sure if there are dryers in Vietnam (in other words, I’m quite sure there are not). The Vietnamese hang their clothes out to dry in every window or balcony of their home, and sometimes, they just open a window to let the wind dry the clothes in doors. In Hanoi, for example, the Vietnamese hang their flags outside the windows and sometimes the National flag seems like part of the laundry itself. In all places though, laundry (and a lot of laundry) could be seen in all parts of the day and sometimes I just had to walk inside an alley into a small court in between the houses to find the clotheslines. In most cases, the Vietnamese women who were either hanging the laundry or cooking/selling food outdoors, didn’t really understand why I take pictures of some clothes on a wire.