I last visited Vietnam in February 2020, immediately before the World shut down. My best friend from my school days and I had recently turned 60, and we wanted to go on a bit of an adventure to mark the milestone. There were mutterings around the world of a certain virus turning into a pandemic but that wasn’t going to stop us. Well, not entirely anyway. In each place we visited we were told that they would be shutting everything to visitors “in a few days”. Amazingly, we managed to move on to our next planned destinations immediately before that happened, except for our final few days in Ha Long Bay which closed its doors just before we got there. We had to quickly find an alternative place to go which turned out to be beautiful and peaceful and returned to the UK on 21st March. Two days later the Prime Minister announced the first national lockdown !
Three years later one of my guests from my Namibia 2019 tour asked if anyone would like to join him on a photography tour of Northern Vietnam, and as that was an area I hadn’t been to I readily said Yes. My partner hadn’t been to Vietnam at all before so it was another adventure, and I took over 2,500 images in two weeks! It’s taken some time to ‘weed them out’, and I’m still left with 387. I’ll choose my favourites and break them down into a series of blog posts. Here’s the first one.
Hoi An is such a picturesque town and I really like it. There are lanterns and colourful walls and doors everywhere. A photographer’s dream.
We were staying in a gorgeous little family run hotel on the outskirts of Hoi An, and got up at about 5.00 one morning to cycle in so that we could take photographs of the locals going about their morning errands. The other reason for going early was so that it would be quiet and not too hot. The downside was that our cameras had spent the night in an air conditioned room and mine steamed up as soon as I got outside. It took ages to clear so I wiped the lens clear immediately before the first photo below. By the time the lady had passed me it was steaming up again, but I decided that it added ‘atmosphere’! I think I got away with it. 🙂
The lady below seemed to be a taxi service for locals, crossing from one side of the river to the other.
Vietnamese people still wear the conical hats and I borrowed one on the trip for a short while. They really do keep the sun off and the head relatively cool. Hoi An ‘Old’ Town is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century and I love the faded elegance and old roof tiles.
This gentleman was sitting outside his home enjoying his early morning cup of tea. I really liked the light so took the opportunity to photograph him.
Early morning is when tourists venture out for photo shoots before the crowds build, and I spotted this elegant lady down the road.
These two girls were having fun taking photos of each other, but were very obliging at posing together for us.
Lunch was eaten on the riverside. We sat in the shade outside a café with a fan blasting on us in an attempt to stop us from melting. The humidity was very punishing and I’m certainly not used to it.
One day we cycled to a beach. We got there for just after 9 a.m. and it was already searingly hot.
Below are my ‘marmite’ photos. Not to everyone’s taste!
Hoi An comes alive at night.
The river is packed with people taking boat rides and it’s quite a spectacle to see all the lanterns on the boats.
Crossing the bridge from one side of the river to the other means battling with crowds. It was certainly a LOT busier than the last time I was there.
We spent 3 nights in Hoi An before flying back to Hanoi to meet our guide for the photography tour.