Sede Vacante

The light is on but no one is home.

Have camera will take longer walks… preferably in Ha Noi

Ok, the biggest mistake I made for this trip to Vietnam was to not take a camera. It was one of those rush and tumble deals. I got home on a Monday night knowing I had to fly back on Tuesday. I knew it was going to be another long haul so I packed quite a bit of stuff. By the end of it, I just didn’t feel like packing another 12lbs. of camera equipment. Bad move.

I really didn’t think much of it. The truth is Ho Chi Minh City is a lot like Manila. So much so that there’s not really much to photograph which is of interest to me. Of course there’s the occasional traffic jam with about a thousand motorbikes crammed in an intersection. Or the occasional appliance center delivery boy with a two-door freezer ref duplex on his motorbike. And did I mention that Vietnamese women have the most delightfully long and straight hair I’ve ever seen? Just like my wife’s I mean. Hi Hon!

The regret hit me when I went to Hanoi (or Ha Noi, as the locals spell it). Hanoi is an utterly beautiful city. In my first five minutes there, driving around Hoan Kiem Lake, it reminded me of a slightly dirtier and much warmer Lake Como in Italy. I don’t particularly like French people in general (well… Parisians to be exact); but I have to hand it to them, they know how to design a city.

Nice quaint colonial style buildings are everywhere. Many streets are small and quaint, with buildings that speak of a pleasant mix of age and character that makes for interesting sightseeing and photography. The areas beside the lakes can be breathtaking. It’s almost like a city stuck in time. Considering how long Hanoi has been the center of communist rule, I’m not surprised.

It’s also far more laid back and relaxed than HCM. In Saigon, the hustle and bustle of the booming economy can be felt everywhere you go. Everyone’s in a hurry to get somewhere and to be someone. Hanoi on the other hand seems to be content right where it is now.

Lastly, and I mean no offense to the wonderful people in Ho Chi Minh… but the women in Hanoi can be quite stunning. It must be the proximity to China. That and the fact that for a brown dude like me who belongs to the malay race, fair-skinned women with slightly oriental and slightly malay features make for a great time just girl-watching. It reminds of the women in Chiang Mai in Thailand. Just lovely fair-skinned women who are quick to smile and quick to blush. Kinda like my wife. (Yes, admire me for my excellent saves. Now you know who wears the pants in my family. Hi Hon!!)

In any case, my lovely thoughtful wife has sent the dinky little pocket digicam with the recent batch of cannon fodder. With any luck, I should be posting photos of Saigon tomorrow.

But until then… I’ll be dreaming of Ha Noi. And my wife. Of course.


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