The Road to Mỹ Sơn

Mỹ Sơn, the abandoned and partially ruined Hindu temples in Vietnam’s Quang Nam province is one of those places you absolutely have to visit, but the scenery along the way from Hoi An through rural Vietnam is an equal treat.

Unfortunately, being on a group tour, I couldn’t keep stopping the minibus, so many of these pictures are taken from the bus, often while moving. 

Seeing pigs destined for market is a common sight.

All along the way we saw people hard at work in the rice fields – diminutive women in conical hats and farmers ploughing the land with water buffalo.  I’d love to travel this road again one day.

      

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The Veggie Seller in Nha Trang

We were watching a weaving demonstration in a small village on the outskirts of Nha Trang in central Vietnam when I spotted her through a window.  This is the real Vietnam where the food doesn’t get fresher than this 🙂

 

Hoàn Kiếm Lake

In the centre of Hanoi, within walking distance of the historical Old Quarter, is Hoàn Kiếm Lake, one of the city’s main scenic spots and a popular focal point for the locals who practise tai chi there at sunrise each morning.

It’s a photographer’s dream and the landmark Turtle Tower, built on an island in the middle of the lake, is beautifully illuminated at night – even though the lake was being dredged when I visited, resulting in some nimble footwork on my part to get the shots I wanted without getting ugly red and white tape or barges carrying excavators in my shots.

The lake and tower are steeped in folklore and legend and worth reading up about!

The Builders in Hue

Hue in central Vietnam was rather wet when I visited.  Hardly surprising considering the region caught the tail end of a tropical storm called Tembin, which had swept through the Philippines a few days before, killing about 200 people.

I had travelled south from Hanoi on a 13-hour overnight train ride where there was no hint of what was to come.  About an hour out of Hue – the picturesque historical city pronounced “whey” – the rain started.

But for the people of Hue it was business as usual:  They just throw on a rain poncho and get on with it.  Even the builders – with what looked like surprisingly little safety equipment to me – carried on in the drizzle and mist, as you can see from these shots taken from my hotel room in the city centre.  It wasn’t the first time I mused how resilient the Vietnamese people are.

Whizzing by

I’ve never tried panning before – that photographic technique were you pan your camera along with a moving subject and end up getting a relatively sharp subject but a blurred background that gives the shot a feeling of movement and speed.

In Vietnam though there was plenty opportunity to do this what with thousands of scooters and cyclist rushing by in all directions.

Clearly I need more practise, but what better place to cut your teeth than a busy ceramic town on the way to Halong Bay in northern Vietnam.

Halong Bay

It’s synonymous with Vietnam, this picture perfect wonder of towering limestone karsts rising out of emerald green waters that is not only one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, but also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Although Halong Bay was formed due to geological processes over billions of years, Vietnamese legend has it that dragons helped defend the country from would-be invaders and emeralds spilling from their mouths formed the islands that dot the bay.  “Ha LongBay  literally means the bay of the descending dragon.

It’s breathtaking even in overcast conditions and spending a night on board a junk in the Bay is a must when visiting northern Vietnam.

I couldn’t help feeling though that despite being regulated, there are too many boats in the Bay at any given time and I worry about he long-term environmental impact.  A few plastic bags and bottles floating in the water reinforced this as we moved through the waters slowly to explore a magnificent cave.

That said, life on the water is fascinating to experience, from the houseboats and fisherfolk to the floating peddlars.

 

The oyster farms of Halong Bay

More grey skies awaited us in Halong Bay (post to follow soon) where a collection of oyster farms dominate the final stretch of road as you head towards the port to board a junk to explore the Bay.  Photographically it would have been a lot prettier bathed in sunshine 🙂

 

The road to Halong Bay

I’m finally getting to the photos from my Vietnam trip. These are of the farmlands on the way to Halong Bay. An hour out of Hanoi and the sun disappeared hence the gloomy grey skies.  Later, as we travelled south we encountered loads of rain so I never did get into the countryside to photograph more shots like this 😦

 

The not so Blood Blue Supermoon

The rare phenomenon last seen in 1866 was visible predominantly in the northern hemisphere on Wednesday night.  By the time we went into night in Cape Town, the alignment needed for the triple lunar effect* to be experienced had passed, but it was still amazing to witness the big bold orb in the sky.

 

 

* A super moon, a blue moon and a blood moon coinciding.