Tag Archives: hoi an

Part # 17: Panorama Vietnam

Vietnam #1: It’s a Long Ass Flight to Vietnam
Vietnam #2: The Best Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam #3: A Lesson in History and Propaganda
Vietnam #4: The Streets of HCMC
Vietnam #5: Is the Mekong Delta Worth It?
Vietnam #6: My First Overseas Doctor Visit
Vietnam #7: Welcome to Central Vietnam
Vietnam #8: Two-Wheeling in Vietnam
Vietnam #9: Don’t Skip Hoi An
Vietnam #10: A Hot Day in Hue
Vietnam #11: Exploring Hanoi
Vietnam #12: Hanoi Hilton
Vietnam #13: The Best View in Hanoi
Vietnam #14: Sheraton Hanoi Hotel
Vietnam #15: Need a Reason to Go to Vietnam: Here it Is.
Vietnam #16: How to Pick a Ha Long Bay Cruise

While I love taking and posting my own pictures, I don’t have a panorama option on my DSLR. Thankfully, Lisa’s camera does, and she loves taking panoramic shots. She does a great job, and it’s a neat way to get a feel for this fascinating country.

Thanks Lisa!

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A row of motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh City

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A row of shops in central Ho Chi Minh City

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The beach at our Hyatt hotel in Danang

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Fishing boats in the Hoi An countryside

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Lang Co Bay en route to Hue

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A street corner in Hanoi

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Sitting on a tree in Hanoi overlooking Hoan Kiem Lake

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The stunning and incomparable Ha Long Bay





 

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Vietnam #9: Don’t Skip Hoi An

Vietnam #1: It’s a Long Ass Flight to Vietnam
Vietnam #2: The Best Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam #3: A Lesson in History and Propaganda
Vietnam #4: The Streets of HCMC
Vietnam #5: Is the Mekong Delta Worth It?
Vietnam #6: My First Overseas Doctor Visit
Vietnam #7: Welcome to Central Vietnam
Vietnam #8: Two-Wheeling in Vietnam

I fell in love with Hoi An the only way I know how to fall in love: Hard and quick.

Hoi An during the day is a charming ancient town, filled with little shops, restaurants, and sprawling markets. Hoi An at night is transformed by the hundreds (thousands?) of colored lanterns lighting up its streets. It is a city ablaze with light and color, and it drew me in. I was in love. Who needs a boyfriend when I had charming Hoi An? .

We made two trips to Hoi An, so we got to see Hoi An at night twice – which is really the best part. If you only have time for a couple of hours in Hoi An, make sure it’s after the sun has set.

Let me warn you: There will be a shit ton of pictures of lanterns, but they were so incredibly beautiful. I couldn’t stop snapping. There is something ineffable about the colorful light piercing the darkness of the night that speaks to me. It reminds me of one of my favorite songs: “Where there’s shadow there is light, love is in the battle cry, even in the darkest night, there is shadow and there is light.”

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A little tripod action here. That blurry person in the red shirt is Lisa.

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It wouldn’t be Vietnam if there weren’t vendors hawking lanterns and other items. Idiot that I am, it took me a while to realize that the Vietnamese women had an agenda every time they told me how beautiful my hair was. I truly thought I had the most beautiful hair South Asia had ever seen. These women were much more successful with Lisa, who bought two lanterns, two tailored-made skirts, and one dress. Apparently, Hoi An is known for its silk and tailoring as much as it’s known for its lanterns.

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Lisa holding one of her tailored-made purchases

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Lisa picks out her second lantern

At night, you can also buy floating paper candles for one dollar. For 150,00 dong ($6.65 USD), we climbed into a rickety boat while a woman ferried us down the Thu Bon River. After a pleasant ride, we set our candles on the water along with hundreds of others. According to Vietnamese lore, this is supposed to be bring us good luck. I’m still waiting for that to kick in.

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Our intrepid rower. The funniest/scariest moment came when she led us underneath a small bridge and gestured for us to lay down, lest we lose our heads. Lisa and I flattened ourselves as we floated just inches away from the underbelly of the bridge. Cue a mix of hysterical and nervous laughter.

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Our one dollar paper candles. Where is our good luck?!?

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An array of candles for sale

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During the day, we walked around to the different stores, took pictures of locals, and relaxed in a coffee shop for a bit. It gets rather hot during the day, so taking it slowly and relaxing is not a bad idea.

The ancient town is a pedestrian only area (bike are allowed), making it the perfect place for strolling, people watching, and picture taking. The town is made up of charming streets and decrepit alleyways perfect for exploring.

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Our first stop of the day was this lantern shop where Lisa bought her first lantern.

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Ancient Hoi An sits on the Thu Bon River. You can stroll along the river, watching fishermen at work, or catch a ferry to one of the nearby islands (like we did on our bike ride the day before).

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A local in his fishing boat

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The so-called ferry

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An example of the beautiful lanterns seen around town

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An ancient temple

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Boats parked on the Thu Bon River

There are also many markets throughout the day selling everything from fruits and vegetables, to shoes, to clothing, to trinkets. Honestly, I was more interested in taking pictures of people than buying anything.

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One of my favorite pictures. If I worked in a market in Vietnam, I’m fairly certain this would be me.

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A vendor transporting his merchandise

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Something to consider: The food market smelled something awful. I could not move on fast enough.

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One of my favorite things was photographing the Vietnamese people, from the very young to the very old. Surprisingly, the locals were amenable to my constant snapping. Parents didn’t mind at all when I snapped pictures of their children, and the children loved seeing themselves on the screen.

I also tried something new on this trip. I brought my 50mm f/1.8 lens which is ideal for portrait photography. It’s super light and only about $100 if you’re looking to try you’re hand at people photography. The annoying bit is constantly changing lenses as I walked about town, but I did notice a difference. The low aperture allowed me to shoot in lower-light situations and narrow the depth of field.

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This kid was amazing. He came up with this pose on his own. What a cutie.

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A classic Vietnamese scene.

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In short, Hoi An was amazing. Do. Not. Skip. Hoi An.

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Vietnam #8: Two-Wheeling In Vietnam

Vietnam #1: It’s a Long Ass Flight to Vietnam
Vietnam #2: The Best Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam #3: A Lesson in History and Propaganda
Vietnam #4: The Streets of HCMC
Vietnam #5: Is the Mekong Delta Worth It?
Vietnam #6: My First Overseas Doctor Visit
Vietnam #7: Welcome to Central Vietnam

Sometimes, I have some crazy ideas. But every once in a while, I come up with a good one, and this was one of those times. I suggested we stay an extra day in Danang and book a bike tour of the countryside. At the risk of tooting my own horn, it was one of my better ideas.

I highly recommend Path Bikers. We booked a private bike tour for two for $50 USD a person. Our driver and guide, Quon, picked us up at 8 a.m., provided bikes, helmets, and waters for us, and guided us through small, backcountry roads we never would have been able to see on our own.

Quon’s English was surprisingly great. We bonded over TV (iZombie – yes!), while he taught us about the various local industries. He also was incredibly patient when we stopped for pictures every ten minutes. Just kidding. It was more like every five minutes.

The trip began on a dirt track that took us off the main road. I was in love already.

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On my bike, like a pro

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Lisa on her bike

Our first stop was a local fishing village.

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After the men catch the fish, the locals lay them out to dry in the sun. Then, the women prepare the fish for sale.

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We stopped by a local herb field, amazed by the amount of work that goes into maintaining and growing the fields. Seriously. Next time I’m too lazy to walk from the couch to the fridge, I need to remember this lady.

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Lisa tried her hand at watering the fields. There is a lot to be said for modern-day plumbing.

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Sometimes, we enjoyed the solitude of the open country road.

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Occasionally, we shared the road with motorbikes and other modes of transportation. I felt like a true local – except that I shrieked a little too often…

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We saw plenty of rice fields, though we were technically in the off-season.

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After a while, Quon led us out of the countryside and into the ancient town of Hoi An.

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After dodging a few too many motorbikes, we disembarked at the river and boarded a ferry – and I use the word “ferry” very loosely.

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A short ten minutes later, our “ferry” deposited us on a small island known for its boat building industry. Quon explained that every boat must have eyes in order to navigate. Not joking.

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Once the boats are finished, the fishermen take them out.

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We tried our hand (and feet) at walking on a “monkey bridge,” the bridges local fishermen use to access their ships.

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We made a quick stop at a home where a mother and daughter were weaving something.

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And as we headed back to our ferry, we got to watch some water buffalo rolling around in the mud, because, why not? What else does a water buffalo have to do?

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Biking with a guide is a great way to see the Hoi An countryside and get a little exercise. Our bike trip was one of our favorite days in Vietnam. Two thumbs up!

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Lisa and I with our excellent guide, Quon

 

 

 

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