It’s a cliche, but in Hanoi it’s true: When it rains, it pours. Incredibly intense downpours – and poor drainage – produce flooding of up to two and a half feet in under a half an hour.
I decided in a fit of temporary insanity to ride my own motorbike out into this mess to take a few photographs.
I finished taking photos of Saint Joseph Cathedral and rode over to Hoan Kiem to take some photos of the lake. On the way, I stopped at a corner to capture some street shots, as well as a pic of the iconic City View Cafe.
When I was done, I glanced to my left and saw this young woman sitting on her motobike (they’re called “motobikes” in Vietnam, the “r” is dropped … and the term “scooter” is completely unknown to the locals). I don’t know if she was waiting for someone or just taking a break from the traffic, but she didn’t seem to be in any hurry, so I approached her and asked if she’d be willing to let me take her photograph. Somewhat to my surprise, she was completely comfortable with it.
I quite like this photo. I think it’s got a mood to it that represents Hanoi’s nights pretty well. The only real flaw (as far as my amateur eye can tell) is it’s a little blurry around her head and face. She did an excellent job staying still, but I had the camera set at a pretty slow shutter speed (0.8 second) and there was some slight movement.
I haven’t been able to post as frequently as I’d like recently. The Korean school semester is approaching its end and I’ve been busy making final exams and tallying performance scores. And when I actually have had time to post, the Vietnamese government has for some reason decided that WordPress is a threat – forcing me to have to use an IP proxy which even when it works often slows things down incredibly.
At any rate, I decided to take some photos of Saint Joseph Cathedral in the heart of Hanoi a couple of weeks ago. I set up my tripod on the rooftop of a place across the street called Marilyn Cafe before dusk, settled down with a nice glass of iced Vietnamese coffee, and waited for the sun to go down.
This was the second-best location on the rooftop. Unfortunately, the best spot was occupied by a couple of female tourists from Switzerland. Actually, it wasn’t so unfortunate as they were quite pleasant. And, really, the only issue with this location was that there were some branches from a nearby tree in the frame, which was easily fixable. I just bent the branches back and lodged them behind some others.
This is a very cool video of Ha Noi in fast-speed by Pim Roes. I think it captures much of what Hanoi is about – vibrant, hectic, in motion. The one thing I think it doesn’t accurately represent are some of the more rundown areas, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s a good tribute.
The story behind this photo: I set up my tripod in a fairly isolated area on the east side of the Red River to take this pic. The only sign of life was a group of men drinking at a bia hoi that sat on the opposite side of the road running along the river bank. Two of the men strayed over to see what I was up to. I must admit I was a little apprehensive. They were a little drunk and – the area being isolated – I contemplated what I would do should they try to make off with my equipment. As it turned out, they were both nice enough fellows; though they weren’t too helpful suggesting that I’d get a better picture if I held the camera in my hands. I tried to explain to them in my limited Vietnamese that the slow shutter speed wouldn’t allow a good hand-held shot, but I’m afraid I failed to get the point across as they suggested three or four more times that I should take the camera off the tripod.
I took my daughter and her nanny to the Thu Le Zoo in Hanoi yesterday. They have this activity set up on the lake where people (mostly kids) climb inside an over-sized beach ball which is then filled up with air, sealed, and rolled out onto the water. The kids then enjoy bouncing around – but mostly falling down – on the water for about 15 minutes before young men working lakeside pull them back in using a tether.
It all seems like harmless fun, but I would never dream of taking my daughter in one of these. As long as it’s fully inflated, the beach ball is easy for the men to pull back to the edge of the water. But if, god forbid, it started leaking air and/or water started seeping inside, the person would start to sink and would provide considerable drag, making it difficult to pull them back. Not to mention the fact that they’d be sinking in water while fully-wrapped in plastic.
I bought a tripod over the weekend. Hooray! This is one of the first photos I took with it. It’s a view of Ho Tay from the roof of my apartment building.
Funny English-language slogans on t-shirts is nothing new in Asia, but this one really stood out to me. I’ve since discovered that it’s popped up in a few places around Vietnam.
Last Wednesday, I drove past Giang Vo Lake on my way home from work – as I always do – when I decided that this would be a good time and place to practice shooting night scenery. I didn’t have a tripod, so I just set my camera on a cement ledge. I set the shutter speed at 4 or 5 seconds (can’t remember now off the top of my head). I didn’t have a remote and didn’t use the timer (I’ve since learned that it is a good method to avoid camera shake…picking things up as I go). Not bad results, but I need to find a more scenic location in the future.
The conical hat is a symbol of Vietnam for good reason – you see them everywhere. They are worn mostly by middle-aged or elderly female laborers. I was taking photos of a temple when this cyclist passed by. My camera was set on a slow shutter speed, so I didn’t have high expectations for a good picture, but the colors were good so I decided to follow her with my camera and give it a try anyway. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. It almost looks like a painting.