Sapa – North Vietnam

During our travels to Vietnam, Sapa was probably the most eye opening, beautiful and destabilizing of all.  However, in the three weeks that I was in Vietnam, I will remember the people of Sapa the most and I was only there for two days.  I could have spent weeks here and never gotten sick of the place or the amazingly nice people.  The children were cute as buttons, the women so hard working and strong in both mind, body and spirt it was humbling, the men, kinda scarce.

On our first day in Sapa we travelled to the Bac Ha Market to see how the locals traded and lived.  It was a feast for the eyes. The colors, the smiles, the bartering and bargaining was enjoyable.  It always amazes me that some tourist will squable for a buck when these hard working people have so much less then we do.  Share the love people.  Very enjoyable to see how they lived, work and socialized.

Our second day was spent trekking with the Sapa Sisters.  This is a very small organization of a few women who are trying to empower women in their country.  They give trekking tours in the rice fields and villages and are absolutely charming, entertaining and knowledgeable.  They are also very good with the english language and are pretty easy to understand.  When we went I was disappointed at first because it was raining and misting and we debated on cancelling the trek.  But we had taken an overnight train from Hanoi to see Sapa and I didn’t want a little rain to deter us.  So we I rented some mud boots (they had none in my husbands size) and we bought cheap rain coats and off we were.  Our Guide Pen was absolutely awesome.  We were also followed by two other young women who one day aspired to be tour guides and followed us for 7 hours in order to sell us some of their goods but also to try and learn english.   In the end they saved both my husband and I from slipping and falling in the mud quite a few times and deserved the big tip we gave them.    I had also brought along some warm clothing for the children and this were handed out by our guide to everyone she knew.  She only kept one item for her daughter.  Quite different from our culture.  So when we said our goodbyes to Pen, I gave her my fur lined hoody.  She was so taken aback that she tood a bracelet off her arm and very gently put it on mine.  Needless to say, I still wear it today.  So if you are ever in Vietnam, don’t miss a trek with the Sapa Sisters, you will not be disappointed.

Check out my post on the Children of Vietnam to get a better insight into these amazing little ones.

Tribes women

Tribes women

Rice fields,  These are all done by hand.  No heavy machinery here.

Rice fields, These are all done by hand. No heavy machinery here.

Young woman selling bags to tourist at the Bac Ha Market

Young woman selling bags to tourist at the Bac Ha Market

Shoes

Shoes

Woman selling yams

Woman selling yams

Woman watching the men negotiate the sale of a water buffalo

Woman watching the men negotiate the sale of a water buffalo

Water buffalo, they run wild on the farms and are used to work the fields.

Water buffalo, they run wild on the farms and are used to work the fields.

Wise old woman in Bac Ha

Wise old woman in Bac Ha

Woman selling their vegetables at the market

Woman selling their vegetables at the market

Young woman of Bac Ha

Young woman of Bac Ha

Wise old woman of Bac Ha Market

Wise old woman of Bac Ha Market

Eating lunch in a village house in Bac Ha

Eating lunch in a village house in Bac Ha

Elder of the family

Elder of the family

Woman and child

Woman and child

Sapa, this was one of the recipients of clothes that I had brought.

Sapa, this was one of the recipients of clothes that I had brought.

This was a woman from the Red Dao village tribe

This was a woman from the Red Dao village tribe

One of the young women who followed us and aspired to one day be a guide.  She was trying to learn english.

One of the young women who followed us and aspired to one day be a guide. She was trying to learn english.

Trekking with Sapa Sisters

Trekking with Sapa Sisters

Trekking

Trekking

Trekking

Trekking

When we stopped for lunch, our Guide Pen was giving out the childrens clothes I had brought.  This woman was a happy recipient.

When we stopped for lunch, our Guide Pen was giving out the childrens clothes I had brought. This woman was a happy recipient.

Another happy Sapa Woman

Another happy Sapa Woman

On the left our Guide Pen with our two 'followers' and another young recipient of children's clothing and accessories.

On the left our Guide Pen with our two ‘followers’ and another young recipient of children’s clothing and accessories.

View from our lunch cafeteria

View from our lunch cafeteria

Our guide Pen's aunt in her home.

Our guide Pen’s aunt in her home.

Woman working at her sewing machine.  It was really dark in the house and all she had was a little light on top of her head with lots of smoke coming from the fire on the ground.

Woman working at her sewing machine. It was really dark in the house and all she had was a little light on top of her head with lots of smoke coming from the fire on the ground.

Woman at work in Sapa

Woman at work in Sapa

Getting a helping hand from Pen.

Getting a helping hand from Pen.

Just a 'little' muddy

Just a ‘little’ muddy

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay is in the China Sea and is a Unesco protected area.  The cliffs and mountains of this beautiful area are simply breathtaking.  The movie Avatar (the floating mountains scenes) were filmed here and no wonder.  Movies, pictures, postcards, it’s very difficult to give this area justice.  However, In our travels I took many, many pictures of this area, and even though I’m pretty good with a camera, I was never satisfied with the result.  It is so much more beautiful to be there and smell the smells, and feel the warmth and colors and just feast on this beautiful area.

Tourist boats on this beautiful bay

Tourist boats on this beautiful bay

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This boat is the Dragon Pearl and was the exact same boat that we were on. We were on the more recent Dragon Pearl II

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Fisherman in Halon Bay, note the impressive mountain formations.

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Fishermen in Halong Bay

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Typical fishing village anchored to the side of a mountain in Halong Bay. There are thousands of such formations. How they find where they live is beyond me as most formations look very similar.

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Squid fishing boat. These fishermen go out at night and turn the lights on, on their boats. This attracts the squid.

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Not a big yard to run and play in. Sitting on the beams of the house.

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The market comes to the fishing village.

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Hanoi, Vietnam

My trip to Hanoi in Vietnam was very mind opening, at times intimidating (trying to cross the  street), destabilizing and above all amazing.  The people, the traffic, the food, the environment, the experience; all of it was beyond anything I could have expected and Lord knows I had done quite a bit of research before going.  I will share with you in this post and future posts my different experiences in the different regions of Vietnam.  How we fared, what we learned, what we experienced and above all give a voice to this wonderful, gentle, amazing and resilient people.  Please enjoy the voyage with me.

Flower Vendor

Flower Vendor

Streets of Hanoi

Streets of Hanoi

Vespas buzz by your feet.  Advice given to us by the Vietnamese people.  'when crossing the street don't wait for a break in traffic for their isn't any, start crossing the steet at a steady pace.  Do not increase or decrease your pace.  The traffic will avoid you but only if they know and can gauge your speed'  That was very encouraging to us.

Vespas buzz by your feet. Advice given to us by the Vietnamese people. ‘when crossing the street don’t wait for a break in traffic for their isn’t any, start crossing the steet at a steady pace. Do not increase or decrease your pace. The traffic will avoid you but only if they know and can gauge your speed’ That was very encouraging to us.

Everytime I crossed the street I felt like I was putting my life in someone else's hands.

Everytime I crossed the street I felt like I was putting my life in someone else’s hands.

Flower shop on the sidewalk of Hanoi

Flower shop on the sidewalk of Hanoi

Doing business on the street.  Everything can be bought off a bike or from street vendors.

Doing business on the street. Everything can be bought off a bike or from street vendors.

Vietnamese hats

Vietnamese hats

Selling face masks.  These are worn by a great portion of the vespa passengers because of the smell they give off.

Selling face masks. These are worn by a great portion of the vespa passengers because of the smell they give off.

Street Vendor

Street Vendor

Kids coming home from school

Kids coming home from school

Taking a break.  The women street vendors are the lowest on the totem pole of sales people.  They have a very difficult life often coming in from the surrounding villages to make money to send home.  They will get up at 3am to go to the wholesale market to fill up their baskets.  Then they spend the day on the streets in order to sell their wares and will not go home until everything is sold.  Sometimes they are still out selling at 7pm.  They manage to send home on average $20 a month.

Taking a break. The women street vendors are the lowest on the totem pole of sales people. They have a very difficult life often coming in from the surrounding villages to make money to send home. They will get up at 3am to go to the wholesale market to fill up their baskets. Then they spend the day on the streets in order to sell their wares and will not go home until everything is sold. Sometimes they are still out selling at 7pm. They manage to send home on average $20 a month.

 

Praying at the local Temple

Praying at the local Temple

 

Female Street vendor - Hanoi

Female Street vendor – Hanoi

Nuns at the local Pagoda - Hanoi

Nuns at the local Pagoda – Hanoi

Streets of HanoiStreets of Hanoi

Traffic in Hanoi

Traffic in Hanoi

Farmer overlooking his fields on outskirts of Hanoi

Farmer overlooking his fields on outskirts of Hanoi

Hoa Lu Temple

Hoa Lu Temple

Hoa Lu Temple

Hoa Lu Temple

The only window in the place is positioned so that the sun shines directly on the alter.  Beautiful  Hoa Lu Temple

The only window in the place is positioned so that the sun shines directly on the alter. Beautiful
Hoa Lu Temple

Hoa Lu Temple

Hoa Lu Temple

Hoa Lu Temple

Hoa Lu Temple

Ninh Binh

Ninh Binh

Budda

Budda

Tam Coc - Halong Bay on Land

Tam Coc – Halong Bay on Land

Tam Coc

Tam Coc

Wise looking old man at Tam Coc

Wise looking old man at Tam Coc

Tam Coc - washing the dishes

Tam Coc – washing the dishes

Cemetary on Tam Coc

Cemetary on Tam Coc

River Shrimp Fishing - Tam Coc

River Shrimp Fishing – Tam Coc

Fishing - Tam Coc

Fishing – Tam Coc

Fishing - Tam Coc

Fishing – Tam Coc

Fishing - Tam Coc

Fishing – Tam Coc

Ninh Binh, vendor

Ninh Binh, vendor

Ninh Binh - meat vendor

Ninh Binh – meat vendor

Ninh Binh market

Ninh Binh market

Citta Magazine published photoshoot

Back in September and October, I had the wonderful priviledge of working with one of the editors of a new magazine called Citta as well as two wonderful models who were up to trying almost anything to obtain beautiful German Burlesque inspired images.  We drew inspiration from many sources including Ellen Von Unwerth.  Our objective was to produce images that were compelling and that told a story of the burlesque world of old.  The models Marie Doroftei and Eloise Bélanger were wonderful.  Marie who is also a hairdresser did all the hair and makeup you see in the images.  A great job was done by all and some or all of the following images were published in Citta’s launch which took place at the end of October 2012.  Check out this wonderful magazine which was launched to bring together artists from Montreal the the world and artists from around the world to Montreal. http://www.cittamagazine.ca/

 

Preparation

Preparation

Let me put on your makeup.

Let me put on your makeup.

Getting done up.

Getting done up.

Drawing the stockings

Drawing the stockings

drawing on the stockings as in years past

drawing on the stockings as in years past

Here, let me help.

Here, let me help.

Listening to instructions

Listening to instructions

relaxing before the show

relaxing before the show

Waiting for my stage call

Waiting for my stage call

Bored

Bored

Waiting

Waiting

Can't get this on right.

Can’t get this on right.

Preshow preparation

Preshow preparation

Tickets please

Tickets please

Are you ready?

Are you ready?

Vintage - sensual boudoir

Vintage – sensual boudoir

Tell me something funny

Tell me something funny

Twins

Twins

Boudoir

Boudoir

Look at me

Look at me

After show cigarette

After show cigarette

 

The Children of Vietnam

I recently went on a three week journey to Vietnam.  We travelled from as far north as Sapa  all the way to the Mekong Delta in the South.  What impressed me time and again were the children.  Whether they were in the north or 2000 km further south, they were happy, easy going, obedient, played with nothing and still had fun and very rarely did we hear any of them cry, throw a tantrum or complain.  We, as well as our children, have alot to learn from this gentle, loving people who have faced so much adversity and hardships over the years and who are still very poor, barely make enough to get by, are the hardest working people I have ever met, are extremely helpful and all this always sporting a beautiful smile and wonderful attitude.  Enjoy a few of the portraits I took while on my travels.

Water village children in Halong Bay

Water village children in Halong Bay

Child in Halong Bay water village

Child in Halong Bay water village

Young Girl living in Halong Bay Water village

Young Girl living in Halong Bay Water village

Family vehicles in Sapa are Vespas.  Cars are a very rare commodity.

Family vehicles in Sapa are Vespas. Cars are a very rare commodity.

Young boy carries his baby brother on his back at the Bac Ha Market

Young boy carries his baby brother on his back at the Bac Ha Market

Bac Ha Market near Sapa

Bac Ha Market near Sapa

The Bac Ha Market happens once a week

The Bac Ha Market happens once a week

Young girl looking after her baby brother

Young girl looking after her baby brother

Beautiful young Girl Boys looking at the tourists

These young kids were given ballons by a tourist and were having a ball with them.

These young kids were given ballons by a tourist and were having a ball with them.

Seriously trying to blow his balloon Father carries baby girl

Baby waiting for her mother as the mother was cooking in the local eatery

Baby waiting for her mother as the mother was cooking in the local eatery

School in one of the hill tribe villages

School in one of the hill tribe villages

Girl waiting in line to play a game

Girl waiting in line to play a game

Elementary school boys playing a game with their teacher.

Elementary school boys playing a game with their teacher.

Young boys waiting patiently for their turn.

Young boys waiting patiently for their turn.

Toddler was mimicking the moves that the elementary school kids were doing while at recess.

Toddler was mimicking the moves that the elementary school kids were doing while at recess.

Young Sapa Girl

Young Sapa Girl

Young child in the hill tribe in Sapa

Young child in the hill tribe in Sapa

Posing in the hill tribes

Posing in the hill tribes

Posing

Posing

These young girls gestured to us from the street (we were eating in a second floor restaurant) to purchase a floating lantern from them.  They waited for almost an hour while we ate and of course we could not resist buying a few of their lanterns.  School night, it was dark and getting late and no parents were around.  But they sat their and giggled the entire time we watched.

These young girls gestured to us from the street (we were eating in a second floor restaurant) to purchase a floating lantern from them. They waited for almost an hour while we ate and of course we could not resist buying a few of their lanterns. School night, it was dark and getting late and no parents were around. But they sat their and giggled the entire time we watched.

Young boys in a Hoi An suburb.

Young boys in a Hoi An suburb.

These two little characters were running around in the local brick factory, no shoes, not hard hats and no supervision.  Our guide gave them gum and they chased us for the entire time we were there.  The absolutely loved having their picture taken and then seeing themselves on the back of my camera.

These two little characters were running around in the local brick factory, no shoes, not hard hats and no supervision. Our guide gave them gum and they chased us for the entire time we were there. The absolutely loved having their picture taken and then seeing themselves on the back of my camera.

This young boy was rather sad because there was no gum left for him.  But he took it like a man.  No crying or tantrum

This young boy was rather sad because there was no gum left for him. But he took it like a man. No crying or tantrum

My little brick factory angels.

My little brick factory angels.

Playing with nothing

Playing with nothing

This young boy wanted his picture taken but was so shy that the first few pictures I took all you could see was the top of his head because he was looking at the ground so much.  With sign language and the help of our guide, I was able to have him look up.  The only smile I got was when he finally saw himself on the back of my camera.

This young boy wanted his picture taken but was so shy that the first few pictures I took all you could see was the top of his head because he was looking at the ground so much. With sign language and the help of our guide, I was able to have him look up. The only smile I got was when he finally saw himself on the back of my camera.

Family Portraits

I recently had the honour and priviledge of working with a wonderful family and creating some everlasting memories for them.    I love these guys.  They are absolutely wonderful and have the cutest kids possible.  Making them look good was not too difficult as they are already beautiful on their own.    I hope that you appreciate some of the following images.

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