Adventure Logs // Vietnam: Hanoi
I'm off on a solo adventure travelling around South East Asia for several months this winter during my "off-season" as a wedding photographer in Vancouver, BC. I'm excited to finally start sharing images from my trip and I hope you'll follow along - and also keep in mind any adventurous or travelling couples that would enjoy these images or who are looking for a photographer for their elopement or wedding in a far flung corner of the world.
For me, travelling takes a long time to process. Places and people, the sounds and smells of a city - I soak it all in and then it simmers. In the moment I prefer to experience it all as fully as possible, and then reflect back later when I've been able to properly think. On a trip like this where often there is very little downtime that's conducive to properly blogging and enough time for me to go through the process of writing about a place, it feels rushed to share images and thoughts but I'm going to try anyways.
Hanoi was my first city + stop in Asia that I fully got to experience (I had essentially an overnight in Singapore the day before but didn't explore at all). I had done zero research about it and for that I'm thankful. Hanoi captured me in a way that I could not have anticipated. At first I wasn't sure if it was just because it was my first stop and experience of a different culture, but now that I'm several weeks into my trip I know that it wasn't the case.
Hanoi is vibrant, organized chaos - like most cities over here, a cacauphony of sounds and smells, layers of questionable grime are inescapable. The old quarter holds streets named for exactly what they sell (tape street, steel street, party decoration street etc. etc.) and wandering further from this area brings you into what I considered to be an equally exciting and interesting city. I loved it for it's energy + sound, the ebb and flow, the color everywhere, interesting shops, effortlessly fashionable young men + women riding in cool outfits on motorbikes through the dizzying and dirty streets. I think it's the juxtaposition between modern and old, gorgeous and shiny stores and the grimy corner shops spilling out onto the street. So many motorbikes piled onto the sidewalks so you have no choice often but to walk on the road. The feeling like you could sit in one spot and dive deeper and deeper visually into so many physical details and interactions - especially around 5pm when the city comes alive with traffic. But also one of my favorite parts - the calm and jovial experience of Sundays around the lake (which I got to experience twice). The surrounding roads all are closed off to traffic, and (when I was there) university grads have their photos taken, locals and tourists hang out and walk around, and middle aged men play competitive games of hacky-sack. It's this beautiful experience of slower paced relaxation that helps make this city feel more liveable and less abrasive. I didn't enjoy the air pollution and I know living and travelling over here in Asia will (and already has) caused me a great deal of heartache for the environment (so much trash + plastic), but also appreciation for our beautiful clear air at home.
It was here I learned how to fearlessly walk across a road where the traffic just winds around you, took my first motorbike taxi ride in said traffic, and soaked in all the feelings of realizing that this was going to be my life for the next several months. It's a strange feeling to be at the beginning of a trip - months and weeks stretched ahead of you with really no plan or expectations of what's to come. One of the best feelings, I'd argue, but a strange one nonetheless.
Hanoi, I'll be back.