Hanoi, 2019

Why I Love Hanoi

Just arrived in Hanoi, and wanted to reflect a bit on why I love Hanoi– and my experiences here.

Day 1 Hanoi: Picked up from Airport (Grab/Uber Taxi) and Heading into the City

Hanoi Haon Kiem Lake at Sunset Video Street Photography RICOH GR II 1080p

8 months in Hanoi

Hanoi, 2019
Hanoi, 2019

In around 2016-2017, Cindy and I lived in Hanoi for about 8 months (another 3 months later in Saigon).

Essentially the reason was this:

Cindy went to the archives in Hanoi, in order to do research for her Ph.D. dissertation on the Vietnamese-French Colonial Library (see her academic website at cindyanguyen.com)

My first time in Hanoi, I had my trusty RICOH GR II — shooting RAW + ERIC KIM Monochrome 1600 preset, and shot monochrome. Some photos from the first trip:

Now in Color

This time around– almost 2-3 years later, I am working in color (JPEG x RICOH GR II) — mostly with flash.

What’s changed and what has stayed the same?

When I first was in Hanoi, these are the things I loved:

  1. Time with my friends Chu Viet Ha and Thu.
  2. Namaste Hanoi (favorite Indian restaurant in the world), Vui Studio (favorite coffee shop in the world), and the romantic walks around Hoan Kiem Lake with Cindy.
  3. The time to disconnect from American politics/’fake news’/silliness– and focus on my creative thoughts (much of my ‘Soul Photography‘ notions came from when I was in Hanoi, with uninterrupted time– and spending more time disconnected from the internet).
  4. The opportunity to learn Vietnamese (mostly self-taught, through conversations with taxi cab drivers and our Vietnamese friends– with the assistance of Cindy), while also learning about the cultural differences between the North and South Vietnamese cultures.
  5. Cindy and I moved here immediately after getting married in 2016, so it was a truly interesting experience– the start of our nomadic living (for the last 3 years or so).

And this is the interesting thing–

For the most part, Hanoi has stayed the same (roughly)– but I have changed so much.

I used to romanticize about my past time in Hanoi/Vietnam– but I’ve realized, I’ve grown and developed. It isn’t a useful use of my time to romanticize the past; more important for me to keep moving forward.

Come to Hanoi!

If you’ve never been; highly highly recommend Hanoi. A lot of people love it for the French-Colonial charm, as well as the more scenic views (Hoan Kiem Lake, etc).

I also love Saigon to death. In terms of culture, I think that Saigon still has the edge over Hanoi (Saigon as being the more international-big city). But frankly speaking; both are great.

Will share more turbo thoughts — soon to come :)