Sitting atop a karst mountain, looking down on the limestone peaks and boats bobbing along the Ngo Dong River – a huge expansive view, a view to drown in, – my gaze was drawn down to the girl sitting quietly next to me, painting a jar of incense at the foot of the Quan Am. A narrowing. Honing in like ants on a sticky trail. … Continue reading Incense.
Hanoi, Vietnam March 2020. The Vietnamese are masters at the art of catching Zzz’s. Oh to be able to sleep like that, draped over a motorbike, perched on a chair, sitting behind a stall. Jokingly they say they can sleep anywhere. These pictures seem to prove it! Continue reading Zen and Zzzz’s in Vietnam.
Danang, Vietnam, January 2020. Food is very important to the Vietnamese. They eat a lot. And when they’re not eating they’re thinking about eating. ‘I eat out twice a day’, Anh told us. Nearly all Vietnamese eat breakfast on the street. ‘We get up very early, we’re not really awake and no-one has time to make noodles for breakfast’. Any morning, any place in Vietnam, … Continue reading Food Stories 3. Danang – Foodie Heaven.
Quang Ngai, January 2020. Jim wanted to go. I was only six when it happened. Son My had no place in my consciousness. Jim was eighteen. ‘I was angry at the Americans, angry about the war. I can’t be so close and not go’, he told me. So I went – because he wanted to, and maybe to learn something. We hired bikes and cycled. … Continue reading Son My.
Quy Nohn, Vietnam, January 2020. We went to Quy Nohn only because we were trying to get to Kum Tum. We knew nothing about it. And sometimes that’s the best place to start from. No expectations. No musts. Just endless possibilities. We drank iced coffees and sugar cane juice at a beachside cafe, sitting under fluttering blue umbrellas, watching food vendors touting their wares to … Continue reading The Charm of Being in a Place Where There is Nothing To Do.
Kon Tum, South-West Highlands, Vietnam. January 2020. The cow burned on a fire. Black and bloated. A shirtless lad poked it with a tree branch while an old man occasionally flecked water over it’s rigid body. Plumes of smoke created a heat haze and masked their somewhat macabre business. Other men squatted on their haunches and rocked back on their heels, smoking cigarettes and barbecuing … Continue reading Village Life. Visiting the Jarai and Bahnar People.
Mui Ne, Vietnam, New Year’s Day 2020. A strange place. At first I almost hated it. Palm trees yes, tropical paradise no. A 15 km strip of ‘resorts’ squeezed between a litter-lined beach and a busy main road, between discarded plastic and horn-tooting ‘open tour’ backpacker buses. Mui Ne is a curious mix of kite-surfers, Russian tourists, and traditional fishing villages. Our first meal was … Continue reading Mui Ne.
Christmas Day, Saigon 2019. A motorbike would have been easier. But we’d not yet figured out how to grab a bike for the two of us, so we went by car. To a neighbourhood district north of the city centre. Streets like strips of ribbon, flexing and turning. Bikes beeping behind us. Those that could not wait, over-taking on the inside, as the driver tried … Continue reading Food Stories 2: Eating With A Vietnamese Family.
Saigon. December 2019 I didn’t know much about Vietnamese history. But I did know that the Reunification Palace is a bit of a must for history buffs. We’d walked past it a few times. A 1960’s ugly block of a building, which cast a sort of eerie shadow over the city, palm trees and manicured gardens notwithstanding. When we visited I had the approach and … Continue reading From Independence to Reunification – A Palace Full of History.