After taking a couple of months off from my photography blog, I’m finally back to my photo journals again, at least for now. I have been itching to return and spend more time on where my passion truly is – photojournalism and documentary. It is difficult sometimes, having the need to juggle between passion and work, and sacrifices have to be made sometimes.

I spent the first quarter of 2012 engaged in other commitments till middle of May, where I made a brief trip to North Vietnam. It was a very welcome getaway for me – A trip that I really relished. It was just a very short trip though, and I did not even intent to set off as a photography expedition. All I wanted was to go out there, feel the place, soak in the environment, see the culture and people, and have some good time with a couple of my mates. I left home without my DSLR (5D MkII) – I’m sorry baby, but you’re just too heavy and I intent to travel really light for the trip. I packed in my Leica M9, my good old film Leica M6 classic (which I bought used earlier this year), together with a few rolls of Fujifilm Superia 400 and Neopan 400 (Black & White).

I did not really shoot much throughout the trip, which by my standard is a far cry compared to my other travels. North Vietnam is a destination that I had always wanted to visit. It is away from the more bustling and well-known Ho Chi Minh City. The northern part of the country consists mostly of highlands and the Red River Delta. I made brief stop overs in Hanoi (capital city of Vietnam), followed by a short trip up North to Sapa (within the Lao Cai province), and finishing off with a visit to one of mother earth’s natural wonder – Halong Bay.

I guess Hanoi needs little introduction here – A city where the exotic chic of old Asia blends with the dynamic face of new Asia. It is a city bustling with mass of motorbikes swarming through the tangled web of narrow streets. Everyone seems to be rushing somewhere. An overnight train ride to Lao Cai province was a welcome relieved. The train ride feels like a time machine taking me to the lost and forgotten world (The train ride was very comfortable though). Known as the ‘Queen of Mountains’, Sapa (situated in Lao Cai) sits regally overlooking a stunning valley, with lofty mountains towering over the town on all sides. The spectacular scenery includes the famous rice terraces that spill down the mountains – a breathtaking view indeed. The valleys and villages around Sapa are home to a host of hill-tribe people who wander in to town to buy, sell and trade. The ladies were all dressed up in their traditional tribe costume that is ever so bright and colorful. I also had the opportunity to spend an afternoon in Cat Cat Hill Tribe Village, where I experience a typical day of the villagers.

Presented here are a couple of random snap shots that I had taken during my brief visit to Hanoi and Lao Cai. This trip must have been a sneak preview for me. I am enticed to return to North Vietnam again, to really capture and document the essence of the place – the unique culture, tradition, lifestyle and the ever so colorful hill-tribe people of Sapa. See you again Viet Nam…

Also check out “North Vietnam In Analog“. A separate post on photographs taken with the film Leica M6.

All photographs in this post taken with Leica M9 (with 50mm Summicron and 35mm Summicron ASPH).

HEADING HOME: Grocery lady at a market in Hanoi, Vietnam.

FRUITS AND VEGETABLES: A Day at the market by the streets, Hanoi, Vietnam

HAVE A BREAK: Workers taking a break after a delivery to the market. Hanoi, Vietnam

VIETNAM RAIL: At the Hanoi Train Station. This overnight train takes us from the capital city of Vietnam to Lao Cai province. A journey that covers about 306km and took approximately 8 hours. I must say that it was a rather comfortable ride though.

SHOPPING FOR RED CHILLIES: A traditional Sapa hill-tribe lady in the tribe costume shopping for groceries in the market, Sapa, Lao Cai, Vietnam

THE CURIOUS LOOK: The valleys and villages around Sapa are home to a host of hill-tribe people who wander in to town to buy, sell and trade. Here is a little girl in traditional hill-tribe costume. Sapa, Lao Cai, Vietnam

GATHERING AT THE BUFFALO MARKET: A group of villagers gathering at the buffalo market situated at the top of a hill. This is the place where animals and live stocks are being sold and traded. Even puppies are not spared. Sapa, Lao Cai, Vietnam

MOTHER AND DAUGHTER: A hill-tribe mum and daughter sharing a close moment at the buffalo market. Sapa, Lao Cai, Vietnam

FUN WITH HELMET: Motorbikes are a common sight in Vietnam, even in the remote villages. Here in Sapa, motorbikes are used to transport live stocks and groceries to and from the market for trading. A little kid here getting bored and finding fun in exploring a motorbike helmet. Sapa, Lao Cai, Vietnam

FREE ENGLISH CLASSES: Fancy some English lesson in a hill-tribe village in Sapa? Cat Cat hill-tribe village, Sapa, Lao Cai, Vietnam

BUFFALO AT WORK: The spectacular scenery in Sapa includes the famous rice terraces that spill down the mountains - a breathtaking view indeed. Here a villager with his buffalo plough the rice field. Cat Cat hill-tribe Village, Sapa, Lao Cai, Vietnam.

THE LONG WAIT: These group of hill-tribe villagers were waiting patiently for us to finish exploring the village school before touting us to buy a piece of their local souvenirs. I simply love the sight of the naked tree blending into the misty clouds in the background. Cat Cat hill tribe village, Sapa, Lao Cai, Vietnam

DAY DREAMING: A village boy day dreaming by the motorbike. I love the beautiful mountains as backdrop. Cat Cat hill tribe village, Sapa, Lao Cai, Vietnam.

Also check out “North Vietnam In Analog“. A separate post on photographs taken with the film Leica M6.

~Editorial & Photography by Loy Chuan (Jun, 2012)~

Do you like this? Share it:
Mojan - 10 June, 2012 - 4:29 AM

Hi Loy,
wonderful pictures!! These pictures show me, how the people live there. Congratulations.

loychuan - 10 June, 2012 - 3:36 PM

Thank you very much Mojan! It was just a brief trip though. Seen some great works from you too. Hope to travel with you again in the near future. Keep shooting!!

Anthony Pond - 11 June, 2012 - 10:28 AM

Nice imagery as usual, Loy. And nice to have you back. I trekked thru the Sapa region some years back — wonderful, although I wasn’t doing much photography then. Waiting for your BW work from Vietnam.

Mojan - 12 June, 2012 - 3:54 AM

Hi Loy,

I am still working with my Nikon! I try to understand “Aperture 3.0”, use a watermark, etc., etc. I have a lot of nice pictures from our trip last year, but it need time to prepare it all.

yang sheen - 11 July, 2015 - 12:46 PM

it is a poor country of the asia but it is a land of hard workers . YANGSHEEN

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