Upside Down, Rightside Up

Some days, I really feel the fact that Vietnam is on the opposite side of the planet from where I grew up.

A lot seems opposite here. I say what I believe is a simple Yes or No question, get a Yes or a No, then act accordingly, then get a disapproving look. Well, don’t say yes if you don’t mean yes!

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I still love Hanoi. I love the coffeeshops. I love the Old Quarter. I love the quiet that descends after a long day of loud traffic. I love that there is so much life crammed into the space here. I love the fact that there are still so many parts of the city that surprise me. We rode around the West Lake the other day and went under the great bridge that first brought us to the city one year ago.

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For example, a couple weeks ago we went to a part of Hanoi that felt more like Seoul or Hong Kong. High, modern buildings. Fast, mostly car traffic. Fancy places. Baby stores that carried the very best products. It was like stepping into a different city (or country) entirely. We went to a rooftop bar with a swimming pool on the 26th floor, and bought $1 bottles of beer and observed a wedding photoshoot. The song I associate with the first night we spent in China by the XX came on, and we looked out over the incredible human hives that are constantly being built in Hanoi. Royal City is the big, bright thing in the distance there.

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I know that I am constantly, just by existing here, confusing and befuddling and frustrating people. I am from a place almost as far away as it is possible to be. Of course everything I say and do is completely different from what is considered acceptable here. I am huge and blonde and a bit loud. I’m going to stick out.

But then, there is the happiest part of my days here. Finding the new street of guild members, from a happy little accident that left me bruised but brought me to the Teapot Street of Hanoi (heaven!) to the pleasant confusion of finding a restaurant with no walls and a waterfall indoors (outdoors?).

The next adventure is approaching, this particular time in Hanoi is coming to a close. It’s a great life here, and I hope to come back.

Then, there might be a new place I want to live in Vietnam….

Shots Around Hanoi: A Few Weeks

Got behind. Things have been rough lately. Yesterday I learned what thoughts go through my mind when I fall off my bike in rush hour traffic, for instance (“Well, I broke my ankle” was one, even though I didn’t. “Damn, a bus will probably hit me” was another, which also didn’t happen).

Here’s some of the great stuff we’ve seen in Hanoi this month. More coming soon.

I think this group of photos really captures how varied Hanoi really is. There is an endless variety of cityscapes here, and we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface after nearly seven months living here. Nothing better than getting some cheap bikes and riding around the West Lake.

I’m constantly amazed here. Then sweaty. Then utterly frustrated (with classes).

Getting better at lightroom work. Give me your critiques in the comments!

Shots Around Hanoi: Fifth (Tet Special)

We’re in Colorado for actual Tet, but there were plenty of festive things to see out in the flower fields near Tay Ho last weekend. I finally got around to editing the photos, so here you are!

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All of those are my favourites, so that you can see them in more detail. The flowers are mostly peach blossoms, which bloom this time of year. People in Hanoi buy branches or whole trees with the blossoms to put in their houses. They hang ornaments on them just like a Christmas tree. I had no idea that was a thing until this month. It’s a great festival out there in the fields, and the farmers who live in the shacks on the land get a big bonus in income just before the Lunar New Year.

I also tried out a little Lightroom black and white on these ones.

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Happy Tet, Everyone!

Shots Around Hanoi: Three

Like I said in the transition between 2015 and 2016 in Shanghai, the past is now another country. And 2017 is in that past.

….I was more eloquent in the past.

Hanoi continues to offer great things to photograph. I continue to be SHIT at street photography, which makes it difficult in a metropolis such as this. I continue to sacrifice my last two remaining brain cells on the pyre of SERIOUSLY-COULD-YOU-JUST-FUCKING-SPELL-CAT-PLEASE in class daily, draining me of life-essence and leaving me unable to be creative much of the time.

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I started making a shawl.  It’s kinda chilly now. 12C, the standard summer temperature in Iceland last summer.

Here are the shots.

FYI, I did go stand on a live railroad track on Sunday afternoon. As you can see from the photos, that’s what all serious photographers in Hanoi (apparently) do. It must not be but so dangerous. I mean, the bridge is only 120 years old!