Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi.
I loved the Old Quarter in Hanoi. As a travel photographer, it was heaven. So much going on. Yummy smells wafting from a plethora of food stalls, cool colonial architecture, motos going every which way and Hoan Kiem Lake…an incredible vibe. Other than the initial fear of crossing the street with all the crazy moto traffic, Hanoi is a wonderful city to explore on foot. We hoofed it from our hotel to the Hanoi Hilton, Ho’s mausoleum, the war museum and out to Lenin Park.
Plan on getting lost every time you leave your hotel. I’ve never been in a city where me sense of direction failed me so completely. The winding lanes that change names every block are part of it. The other factor may be that your using all your senses trying to get across the street that you lose all sense of direction. That’s my theory, anyway.
Lenin Park was by far the most peaceful place I found in Hanoi. It’s a huge park and it may be the only place in Hanoi that vehicles aren’t allowed. I would consider staying near Lenin Park next time I visit Hanoi just for a quiet place to run in the morning. Plus, it’s off the Hanoi tourist track. I didn’t see another traveler at the park or even in that part of Hanoi.
I stayed a five minute walk from Hoan Kiem Lake. Whenever I travel, I make it a point to be up and out the door before the sun comes up. This usually means it’s just me and the few people getting an early start. Not so in Hanoi. The sun wasn’t even up yet and there were large groups at Hoan Kiem Lake doing aerobics, laughter yoga, running and working out.
This image was shot with the Fuji X-T1 and the Fuji 18mm lens. Hanoi was an awesome place for travel photography.
Locals were out dancing by the lake in Hanoi. I loved it that folks were comfortable dancing alone.
Traffic in Hanoi
The first practical obstacle your confronted with when you arrive in Hanoi, or any city in Vietnam, is crossing the street. I stared across at the other side of the street and I just didn’t see how I was gonna get across. The street was filled with motorcycles going in both directions and staggered where there was no path through. My first thought was wondering if it was possible to take a cab from one side of the street to the other. Well, actually my first thought was “holy shit!”.
I stepped off the curb, stared straight ahead and moved methodically like a robot until I reached the other side. This was the advice of guidebooks and my friends who’d been to Vietnam. Sounds easy. And it works. Sort of like Moses parting the sea, everything just flows around you. As long as you keep a steady pace. Stopping or jack rabbiting is deadly. I saw tourists get nailed more than once when they departed from the steady and purposeful approach. Well, I saw someone get pasted when they used the proven method. Nothings perfect, right?
I loved Vietnam and all the cool travel photography opportunities. I’ll have a couple more blog posts on it over the next week or so.
All images were shot with the Fuji X-T1 and the Fuji 18mm lens.
A quieter street.
That look you get when you make it across the street in Hanoi.
It was fun to drink a beer on a rooftop deck and watch people attempt to cross the street.
Pretty sure I’m not coordinated enough to ride side-saddle and text without tumbling off.
After you’ve been in Hanoi a few days, motorcycles driving through restaurants won’t surprise you.
Any gap in traffic will be filled. Traffic looks insane in Hanoi but it’s actually incredibly efficient.
Long Bien Bridge in Hanoi.
Hoi An, Vietnam
I kept running into other travelers in Hoi An, Vietnam that had planned on being there a few days but couldn’t bear the idea of leaving. It’s one of those places. Hoi An has a cool, historic town center and is surrounded by rice fields. Did I mention there’s a great beach, too? It’s a super easy place to get around on a bike and most of the hotels offer free bikes or rentals are available for a dollar or two a day. It’s a awesome place for travel photography.
I spent most of my time time biking to outlying villages. Like almost everywhere else I’ve traveled, the locals in the rural areas are friendlier. I even had a group of fisherman flag me down while I was biking on Cham Island to share their fresh catch of minnows…or sushi if that makes it sound more palatable.
I found myself returning to Nu Eatery in the Old Quarter of Hoi An. The food was always tasty and reasonably priced. And the owner and staff were friendly. It may have been my fav restaurant in Vietnam. https://www.facebook.com/NuEateryHoiAn
I’m looking forward to getting back to Vietnam within the next year. I’d like to do more trekking in Sa Pa and see more “off the beaten path” Vietnam.
All images we shot with the Fuji X-T1 and either the Fuji 18mm lens or the Fuji 23mm lens.
Although Hoi An sees a lot of tourists, it also is full of locals living life.
I know, it looks like swastika but it’s actually an ancient Hindu symbol. I love the composition of this shot with the two vendors walking towards me.
Bikes in Hoi An.
The river in Hoi An.
Boats at night in Hoi An.
I saw this abandoned temple when I was biking near Hoi An.
I loved biking along the river in Hoi An.
Repairing a boat in Hoi An.
Hanging out in Hoi An.
I took the ferry over to Cham Island. Biking around the island may have been my fav experience in Hoi An.
…although the bridges were a little dicey. :)
The locals were friendlier than in touristy Hoi An.
Working at the fish market at sunrise.
Sunrise near Hoi An.
It was funny talking to other travelers in Bangkok because they’d inevitably make a comment about how crazy hectic it was in Bangkok. Coming straight from Saigon, Bangkok seemed like a quaint town. Vehicles actually stopped at traffic lights, every single vendor wasn’t calling out for me to “buy something”, and I didn’t feel like I was risking my life every time I crossed the street. I loved Vietnam, and the War Remnants Museum in Saigon was powerful, but I’m not anticipating another trip to Saigon. The rest of Vietnam? I will be back soon.
Bangkok was awesome. Great vibe. Awesome food. I had possibly the best curry that I’ve ever tasted, in Bangkok. I’d recommend finding lodging away from Kao Sahn Road. It’s a backpacker ghetto with all the crap that goes with that.
All images shot with the Fuji X-T1 and either the Fuji 18mm 1.8 lens or the Fuji 23mm 1.4 lens. With the X-T1 and the Fuji X100T, I may actually not be buying any new cameras in the next year or two. That’ll be a first for me.
The Grand Palace in Bangkok. I’d recommend getting here early because it gets insanely crowded.
The Grand Palace in Bangkok. So many opportunities for photography.
Wat Pho in Bangkok.
It was cool watching artists restoring Wat Pho in Bangkok.
Wat Arun in Bangkok.
Wat Arun in Bangkok right after sunset.
Wat Arun in Bangkok. Possibly the steepest steps I’ve ever climbed.
This evil looking cat stalked us while we were walking around Wat Arun.
No lack of of Bhuda’s in Bangkok.
Kao Sahn Road in Bangkok. Glad i saw it because you read so much about it but what a crappy, touristy backpacker hell.
Praying with a monk in Bangkok.
This dude was playing a mean sax near the river late one night. No hat out for tips. Just a musician making beautiful music.
I loved the nightlife along the river in Bangkok. A bit of a challenge photographing in the dark but i love the mood it conveys.
Langtry…why does that name sound familiar? I was driving through South Texas on my way from Marfa to Port Aransas a few weeks ago when I saw a sign for the town of Langtry. It finally hit me – Judge Roy Bean aka The Hanging Judge! I’d seen the movie of the same name as a kid years ago. If you haven’t seen the movie, Paul Newman is stellar as the judge. Langtry was just a few miles off the highway and well worth the detour. The saloon is well preserved and the visitor center is interesting.
These surprises are one of my favorite things about travel and travel photography.
All photos were shot with the Sony RX100III. I mostly shoot with Fuji X100T or Fuji X-T1 camera’s and Fuji prime lenses but it’s nice to carry a super light, pocketable camera like the RX100 when I’m just out and about or hiking. I’ll probably take just the Sony RX100 and the Fuji X100T when I go to Cuba next month.
Words to live by!l images shot with
Judge Roy Bean’s saloon in Langtry, Texas. Kudos to the state of Texas for doing such great job preserving it.
The inside of Judge Roy Bean’s saloon.
Sometimes you have to break the law, at least a little. I was driving the back roads of Northern New Mexico between Clayton, New Mexico and Raton, New Mexico. I’d never been this way and the views were incredible with a coat of fresh snow. About thirty miles from Raton there was a highway closed sign and a barrier across the road, more of a suggestion, really than a demand to turn around So glad I kept driving. And glad I had great snow tires. This is a spectacular part of NM I’d never driven through before. Didn’t see another soul on that stretch of road.
I love the isolation and sense of peace this photo conveys.
New Mexico is one of my favorite places to photograph. I think we all have those places in the world that touch our soul. New Mexico is that for me. And Paris. I’m feeling awfully grateful to be making a living doing travel photography.
I shot this image with the new Sony RX100III. I continually recommend this camera to folks who want a great all-around camera.
I shot this photo somewhere west of Folsom, New Mexico.