Hoan Kiem Lake – Hanoi
Hoan Kiem Lake was an oasis amidst the craziness of the Old Quarter of Hanoi. Dodging motorcycles to get across each side street, and then the last obstacle is the road that circles Hoan Kiem Lake. Whew. But once I make it across, it is such a cool, vibrant playground full of locals. Groups doing laughter yoga, locals working out solo or in large groups, their workout guided by music blasting from a boom box. People running around the lake. Mostly tourists are the runners. But almost everyone else is a local. The tourists start arriving after breakfast but a 5 am, it’s almost all Vietnamese.
The dancing is what caught my attention the most. It was both surreal and beautiful to see couples dancing by the lake before the the sun even came up. Vietnam, you’ve found a place in my soul.
All images were shot with the Fuji X-T1 and the Fuji 18mm lens.
I’m not sure i ever saw the saw while I was in Hanoi. Which is just fine. The overcast skies made for great reflections like in this photo.
Hoan Kiem Lake was one of my favorite places in Hanoi.
I just didn’t see the inhibitions in Hanoi that I see in the States. People dancing in the park. How beautiful.
A shrine at Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi.
Folks praying at a shrine on Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
I had an awesome hike this afternoon at Red Rock Canyon. It’s located about a thirty minute drive west of Las Vegas and is an oasis for someone like me who finds Vegas to be as close to hell as you can get. The smoke, the crowds, the drunks… no thanks. But there’s a photography conference I periodically attend that is held in Vegas. So I drive out, getting my nature fix along the way, steeling myself for my least favorite city in the States.
I started out hiking in the sun, then a little rain followed by sleet, then hail and finally some snow. Then the light got just about perfect. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase in photography that, “It’s all about the light.” Not always. Given a choice between a poignant moment and the best light, I’ll take the emotion every time. But for nature photos, it is indeed “all about the light.”
I almost always have the Sony RX100III in my pocket when I go hiking. I shoot most of my work with the Fuji X-T1 and the Fuji X100T but it’s hard to beat the portability of the Rx100III when I’m hiking. For my upcoming trip to Cuba, I’ll probably take the Sony and the Fuji X100S.
Red Rock Canyon is an awesome place for travel photography.
The light was just about perfect for photography at Red Rock Canyon.
Horse Shoe Bend, Page, Arizona
Winter is a great time for a road trip and photography in the Southwest. A bit of a roll of the dice weather wise but I’d much rather hike in 30-60 degree weather than in 90+ degrees! Plus, everything is much less crowded this time of year and locals seem less tourist weary.
Horse Shoe Bend was amazing. It’s just a fifteen minute walk from the trailhead to the canyon overlook. Visitors all congregate in the same 100 meter area so you just have to walk a few minutes to have a little solitude and take it all in. So much of getting a good image is being patient. The late afternoon light was good on the first day but when I went back to Horse Shoe Bend the next morning the light was great and the fog added a cool feel to the photos.
I was hoping to hike in Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon on this trip but they were both closed because of the rain. But Horse Shoe Bend by itself made it well worth the visit to Page.
Both images were taken with the Fuji X-T1 and Fuji 14mm lens. It’s pretty rare that I shoot this wide. I usually prefer to work with more moderate wide angle lenses and back up if I need to because the wider the lens, the more distortion becomes an issue. But there was no backing up for these shots.
Horse Shoe Bend in Page, Arizona.
The photographer in the upper left corner gives the photo perspective.
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.