Vietnam in Retrospect

Ho Chi Minh City Travel Blog

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enjoying my coke in Ha Long
People have asked me why I was traveling to Vietnam alone. The answers i always give were (1) To make good use of my new camera and take lots of pictures; (2) To take a break from a very busy and stressful year; and (3) to do some growing up... seriously.

As for the photo safari in Vietnam. I must say that went so well. With my 4 CF cards, my mac, and a portable Hard-drive, I got to bring home 3551 pictures! Now, how am I to organize, edit and enhance them all, i don't know. But that will keep me busy for the entire 2009 I guess. In Vietnam, my creative juice(s?) overfloweth like the Thu Bon River in Hoi An. I've never had something like that in quite a long time. I was having so much fun flicking! Now, this was really the first time I traveled with the main goal of taking pictures - and not shopping or partying and it paid out really well creatively.
instant millionaire!
I'd wake up early to catch the sunrise, get good light, watch the cities come to life; sit and wait in one corner waiting for photo ops to pass me by; try out different new things with my camera and different environmental conditions - you know, things like that. I was so focused that even flooding did not bother me.

During my first night, my monopod broke, I accidentally kicked my camera off the bed, and broke a lens filter. But that didn't hinder me from getting the shots I want... always trying to think of ways to go about the given situation and making do with what I've got.

Vietnam is such a photogenic country, in every corner there's a moment waiting to be captured. The favorite place I've shot is probably Hoi An despite the bad weather. It's such a colorful and rich little town! Another photographer's dream would be Sa Pa - simply wonderful!

I would never have accomplished #1 had I been traveling with someone else.
enjoying my room at the Grand Hotel
No offense to friends and loved ones, but as much as it was fun traveling with you guys time and time again, you would have just gotten in my way and frustrated me... and that leads me to answer #2.

I just needed to be away from it all... away from work... from loved ones... from my dog... from my life. I was experiencing burn out in Manila during the past year and I really want some time for myself where I don't have to think of anyone or anything (thank you all for letting me have that). Of course, I could never completely turn my back on work. I have to run it remotely. I have to admit that even if I have a business to run back home, I forgot about it several times. Like, what the hell i'm on vacation!

This wasn't my first time to travel alone, but it was more fun than the last time I did something like this.
a quiet afternoon by the lake in Ha Noi
It's probably the choice of place. Let's just say I fell in love with it and it's people. There were times I missed home, certain people, and my dog immensely but I had to suck it up. I wanted to make the trip one to remember. I think i will be doing something like this more often. It's healthy for me. I need it for my sanity.

It's really difficult to choose which among my destinations is my favorite. They were all great! Well, I had a one bad day in Saigon, so I guess that makes it my least favorite place. But the next day made up for that. Creatively the most rewarding was Hoi An and as far as R&R goes, it was no doubt Ha Long Bay. It would have been nice to spend a day or two in Hue (as originally planned), but It's the place I was least immersed at since I only did a day trip there.
There are places I also would have wanted to see like Nha Trang, Dalat, the outskirts of HCM City, and the Mekong, but hey that makes it all the more to have a reason to come back right? But next time, I want to share the experience with others.

And finally as far as #3 goes. Although I meant that one as a joke, I think there was a bit of soul-searching that went on during the last 2 weeks. Nothing major really, I mean i've always known who and what I am inside and out, but the trip i think reinforced more of my ideals in life. I wouldn't say I'm a better person or a stronger person because of it - it's just freaking two weeks! But I could say that I do have a clear idea of what I want to do and where I want my place to be in this world.... oh and as much as i've learned that I have a heart, my inner bitch is never going away.
Motorcycling in Sa Pa
I just know now how to keep it dormant.

Some of the things I found out about myself:

1) I'd go through great lengths to get good pictures like disregard the threat of a flood; ride a motorbike - sharp curves, steep drops and all; pay people to smile; and sitting in one corner for hours (which i had the most difficulty with since I am the most impatient known to me).

2) I want a Vespa.

3) That I have little tolerance for people offering me massages with happy ending.

4) That even traveling on a budget, I have to have the little comforts every now and then - like my own toilet, and more than a three-star hotel for a couple of nights. Like I said, I'm a backfaker.

5) I actually get a little tense when flying. I've never had this problem in the past, I dunno if it comes with age, but i get a little restless now whenever I am in a plane.
and this is my playlist. songs i've listened to over and over again during my vacation.
Must be too much watching Nat Geo's "Aircrash Investigations". I have got to stop watching that.

6) As much as I like traveling with other people, I do enjoy a new place alone. There are moments that I wish i was sharing it with someone, but again that's one reason to go back.

All in all, I had such a blast in Vietnam. The sights, the smells, the sounds, the people... everything about it has given me one unique experience. I went to Vietnam with the thought that I wouldn't have a good time, well guess what, I left Vietnam with 3000+ pics, excess baggage, a few friends, and one big smile on my face.
nolan says:
Interesting blog on Vietnam, just read it for the first time today.
Posted on: Apr 16, 2013
Abidos says:
great blog, i like the personal narrative intermixed with scenes from vietnam
Posted on: Apr 29, 2011
jaeWALK says:
oh the 3k+ pics... im not done with them yet... haha! i've gathered so much pics i havent had the time to work on them all... but some of them have been published already in magazines :)
Posted on: May 18, 2010
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enjoying my coke in Ha Long
enjoying my coke in Ha Long
instant millionaire!
instant millionaire!
enjoying my room at the Grand Hotel
enjoying my room at the Grand Hotel
a quiet afternoon by the lake in H…
a quiet afternoon by the lake in …
Motorcycling in Sa Pa
Motorcycling in Sa Pa
and this is my playlist. songs iv…
and this is my playlist. songs i'…