Vietnam Trip Photo Report #1: Saigon
I’m back baby, this time with another collection of interesting (to me) photos collected on yet another jaunt overseas, this time to sunny / ridiculously-hot Vietnam for a three-week south-to-north journey starting in Saigon and ending in Hanoi. I didn’t post as I went along during the trip, mostly because I was shooting almost entirely in RAW and had only an iPad and no means to develop them on the road, nor was the internet connection ever particularly impressive there.
But the upshot is that I’ve got 5000 photos to edit down and develop, and rather than wait till I am done with the lot, I am going to break the trip up and post as I go, in chronological order. As it happens, due to the vagaries of my job I am actually posting this from Dubai, which will be the subject of a future photo report.
Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City if you are strongly communist-leaning) was our first stop on our Vietnamese odyssey and what a way to start – this place was full of life, bustling with a million mopeds, combining Western opulence and architecture with southeast Asian street life. In Vietnam, life is lived on the street, especially once you get onto the back streets. Soup ladies carry entire kitchens on poles over their shoulders, right down to the little plastic stools that are a challenge to Western knees (and balances). Little old ladies peruse fresh herbs being sold right on the pavement, often next to unrefrigerated meat, and little children scamper everywhere, impossibly cute until they decide to pee into the gutter right in front of you.
Obligatory Scooter Shots
In every Vietnamese city, Saigon especially, seemingly every square inch of street is filled with revving, beeping scooters (carrying people, families, commercial merchandise, and/or livestock) which thread through and around each other and pedestrians like streamers in a Maypole dance. Visiting Vietnam means quickly working up the necessary courage to cross a seemingly-impenetrable two-way, four-lane road heaving with motorised threat, which is only possible if you do it the way the Vietnamese do: slowly, steadily, and without stopping. Magically, the traffic parts around you, and we learned from watching Vietnamese over time that it is entirely possible (though challenging) to cross a busy two-way road without looking in either direction.
Everywhere you look in Vietnam, there is food on the street, whether it be from cafes or streetside restaurants, or from pho places that set up on the same pavement every night, or from the little soup or banana pancake ladies who constantly move around a set of favoured perches, setting up shop the moment the passing foot traffic looks promising…
The Saigon River
We made a day trip out to the Cu Chi Tunnels (quite an experience, if not a photogenic one) and this involved a jaunt on the Saigon River, passing many barges and fishing boats along the way. The Cu Chi Tunnels will be featured on Facebook and possibly a video in the future, but I did want to share the tapestry they had up illustrating the intended use of the traps that used to be laid around the area…
More photos from Saigon can be found in my Flickr set here.
Part 2 of the trip report will be coming in the next two weeks, and will include photos from the coastal towns of Mui Ne and Nha Trang. Part 3 will focus on Hoi An and potentially Hue as well. Then it will be on to Hanoi, Sapa, and Ha Long Bay.