We absolutely loved Vietnam, where we spent six weeks, visiting my brother in Ho Chi Minh and exploring other cities. I have gathered here some of our best pictures from our stay in this beautiful country and which depict slices of life, in other words, moments of the ordinary life through scenes in the streets of Vietnam. These pictures bring great memories to us and represent some of the aspects of life there.
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We say a picture is worth a thousand words and I think it’s particularly true in the pictures shown below. I chose black and white in the manner of street photography because I feel like we can focus more on the story behind the image.
The first thing that struck us when we arrived in Vietnam, more precisely in Ho Chi Minh, was the traffic and the number of motorcycles, or “motobikes” as they say, in the streets. They are the main means of transportation and we quickly had to get used to it. I took this picture on my very first day in Ho Chi Minh as Anh, my brother’s girlfriend, was driving me to go get some breakfast. It took me a little while to recover after this first ride through bustling streets.
And if you think there are so many bikes because everyone has got one of their own, that’s not exactly the reality. When I thought 2 people on a bike (me and Anh, who would always be my driver) was enough, I’d see one carrying three, four, sometimes 5 people.
Their motorcycles are not only used to transport people. You’d be surprised to see how creative people can be, whether it’s a lot of eggs (really a lot!), bags with goldfish or even pigs. As you can see it on this picture, a motobike also has a hammock function. This kind of scene was actually much more common than you would think.
On our trip to An Binh, we took a boat tour on the Mekong. In addition to the places designed for tourists that the guide showed us, we also got a glimpse of how people live by the river. We quickly noticed that they seemed to deliberately use the river as a trash can. It was a bit sad to see and it made us think about the “fresh” fish that we were served at the guesthouse the night before… and that we now refer to as the “trash fish”!
If I sometimes eat fish (I did eat the trash fish from the Mekong), I don’t meat. Being a vegetarian in Vietnam wasn’t so much of a challenge but it came with surprises. This picture was actually taken in a 100% vegetarian restaurant. Vietnamese are very good at making vegetarian food look like meat. It was too tricky for my brain and I wasn’t able to eat it, but Simon enjoyed it.
You can’t go to Asia without trying some street food. Being a vegetarian, I wasn’t able to try anything randomly, which I wish I could have done. With some research, you can definitely find street food without meat and it wasn’t even a problem for me to take a street food tour in Hanoi. Our guide, Thanh was great and made sure I tried vegetarian versions of traditional Hanoi dishes.
We met some great people in Vietnam, but everyone is unfortunately not that well-meaning. As a tourist, you need to know about scams like the coconut carrier one in Ho Chi Minh, especially in the very touristic area of the war museum. The coconut carrier will spot tourists and offer coconuts at a very low price before giving them the pole to carry for a picture, without usually giving much of a choice. They will then demand a much higher price for the whole experience. You’ll have got one coconut for the price of ten, so there are much worse scams of course. We knew about it and never fell for it.
Another thing that characterize Vietnam in our minds now are these boats, here on a beach in Hoi An. They are as beautiful as surprising. I’m not the best when it comes to steering a boat (sorry dad), but I’m sure I’m not the only one to wonder how on earth Vietnamese can get anywhere on a round boat.
Vietnamese people are skilled enough to steer a round boat, or a regular one with their feet. This guide in Tam Coc was really making the most of his time: steering the boat with his legs, smoking with one hand and using his phone with the other.
Vietnam is a wonderful country that is changing fast and we wonder if some of the traditions will eventually disappear. If we get to go back to visit my brother in a few years, our experience will probably already be different.