Personal Project – Record the Streets of Hanoi. A Report

Since I arrived in Hanoi on 16 March, I’ve been doing a personal project to capture the streets of Hanoi with my camera. There are no real rules to the play and work except for these:

  1. Walk at least 12000 steps each day
  2. Photograph whatever I happen to see with my Fuji X Series camera
  3. Purposefully do not record the locations

The idea of the project is to be a visual undertaking of sets of walks in a variety of directions. The streets of Hanoi are full of change, people, cars, scooters, and activity. Hanoi is a dynamic city of old quarter, French quarter, West Lake, Long Bien. It goes on and on.

I’ll be continuing the project until 14 June when I leave Hanoi. At that point I’ll publish a blogpost with all the photo albums linked here and perhaps people will get a sense of just what a great city, how random it is, the places that can be seen by simply walking. Hanoi is a relatively safe city as long as you do common sense things. People may say that the traffic seems crazy but the reality is that there is a flow to it and you have to be part of it. There is a dynamism of the people and the businesses. Stately old buildings and consular offices. Government buildings. The beautiful parks and monuments around the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. All of it can be walked to from most locations in the city.

I don’t know that will I continue to do the same project in Ho Chi Minh City but I will be walking with the camera each day recording things. I also publish separate photo albums for the cities and tours I do to separate them and more easily share with friends and family, twitter, Facebook, Google Plus. If you do use Google Plus I publish a collection of photos there that I update because its the easiest way I know to share photos.

I’ve taken over 1000 photos of Hanoi itself that I save off to Google Photos. Thank goodness its free! My photographs are done simply with no post processing, no RAW files, etc. I don’t have strong views on post processing of photos using Lightroom or Photoshop. If that’s your boat, float in it. I much prefer to use what Fuji gave me and make mistakes, try correcting them and immediately share the JPEG files. I may not be a photographer and I’m okay with that. What I am is a person that enjoys doing the act of it. The learning of it. But I really like the outcome and being to have a record of things.

The project recording the sights and sounds of Hanoi has been a lot of fun and its meant that my contributing goal of walking over 12k steps a day has been fully realized. I checked the pedometer app history and I have walked over 12k steps for 30 days in a row. That means I have also taken photographs with the FujiFilm X100F those same days.

Some good, some over exposed and under. Its all grist for the mill. I have been to some places numerous times and I still find new things, new views, new endeavors to record.

I would ask you all. What is it you expect to gain doing photography when you travel? Is it a record of the things you have seen or perhaps more of a personal reflection. Maybe you don’t share photographs at all. None is right or wrong except when you get involved at a level that it stops being fun and learning. Then it becomes some plodding duty and you feel that the effort is not worth the outcome.

I’ll be sharing the Hanoi albums in the next three weeks when I leave here.  I will really miss Hanoi. I’ve met people here that either I have typed my name into their Facebook account, met Vietnamese friends at restaurants and coffee shops and helping them practice English. Its all been good.

One final note with some sadness. My friend Mikka Luster has stopped maintaining his blog which was one of the few away from the wordpress.com community I liked to read. For a lot of reasons. His abilities at putting words next to each other, lovely photography, and the mix of introspection along with long hikes and reviews of tech will be missed. Thanks Mikka for the blog. I hope you can find a way to continue writing.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading!

The last full day of the Hoi An Adventure

Today it seemed to get a lot warmer out so I ended up back at the room after still adventuring for hours and getting drenched in sweat. Now I’m in AC comfort and will go out and have a few beers before dinner tonight.

I spent 2 full days and one part of a day here in Hoi An and for me it was just long enough. Its an interesting historic view plus a lot of crafts and tailors and custom silks, coffees, spices. But the Hoi An cuisine is the most interesting to me. The food is spicy and has a decided seafood trend but as I walked along the night market, I saw just about every kind of food being sold on the street.Kabobs, ice cream, classic Banh Mi baguettes, small Pho shops.

Most people I think do not go out during the day times here in the summer and wait for sunset and the evenings when the lanterns light up and the temperatures cool off by degrees. Last night I went to the Red Gecko which was an amazing dinner and the owner and workers came to my table and told me to come back and have their BBQ. I don’t have the time so if there is one thing I could stay longer for its the food.

Tonight I’ll go to another place closer to the Hotel and then stop for beers again at this Irish Pub down the street. With tables out on the street and their 2 for 1 sale, its made for an evening of a few beers. Perhaps I have said this before, but Vietnamese people love their beer and food. In almost every discussion I’ve had, one of the common elements has been the food. Everyone in Hoi An, tourists and locals, loves to sit out in the evening with the food. It really reminds me of Singapore in some ways but the look and feel is completely different.

If I would build your trip itinerary to Hoi An, I would first find out if you wanted custom made clothing or leather goods. Next, would make sure you actually like to eat! Because if you don’t enjoy eating, Hoi an is probably not for you. Then there’s the old town itself. Do you like wandering a city and seeing the old and new kinda combined and sometimes with abandon? If you like these things you probably should visit. Now for the number of days. I only came for 4 days but 2 of them were not complete. So maybe you should you come for longer. Then there’s where to stay. So many places to consider. All different price ranges and comfort levels. I will say that I’m particularly taken with my Hotel. The Nova Villa is a really nice place with a great location and the rooms are just gorgeous. You get a free breakfast where they come back to ensure you got enough to eat. I had seconds of their delicious and yummy banana pancakes and two cups of coffee.

So you should visit Hoi An and eat and drink and perhaps shop. Don’t forget your camera. In evidence of this, here is today’s photographs of the walk. The entire Hoi An google photo album I’ll share when I get back. You should also bring comfy walking shoes and clothing that is good for warmer temperatures depending on when you come.

Anyways, tomorrow I travel back to Hanoi in the morning and I’ll back in the old quarter by 2pm or so. Probably go wander around Hoan Kiem Lake and eat tomorrow 🙂  Hope you enjoyed the little excursion and few days of blogging in Hoi An. Next trip in about 1.5 weeks is Hue. My time is winding down in Hanoi and I’ll be leaving around mid June and then relocating to Ho Chi Minh City for two months and a few trips there.

Hoi An Day One

The first day in Hoi An is in the books. I took off from Hanoi International Airport this morning after a slight delay and the flight went for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Landing in Danang and meeting the driver was a piece of cake. After an hour of driving due to construction and detours I got to my hotel.  Let me say, the place I am staying is simply beautiful. I am only paying $64 US for 4 nights and I have this wonderful room.  The Nova Villa Hotel is close to the downtown and shopping and historic areas but you also get the river right there.

The restaurants in Hoi An are a bit more expensive so I hunted down a chicken and rice place that was cheaper. My first stop was for beers and I have to admit to getting a rather nice beer buzz on after drinking most of the day. Now I’m in my room and I have this wonderful feeling about life, retirement, beer. Beer is such a gentle drunk. It just guides me to what I want to think and blog about this evening.

I will say that Hoi An is one of the places to visit. Its one thing during the day but as soon as twilight and nighttime hit, the lanterns and lights go up. Its simply beautiful! If you like to eat and drink, I really think Vietnam is a great place! Here in Hoi An, the bars face the river with tables out much like I remember in Singapore. Food is all over. You can spend a lot of money on food or go hunting cheaper places. I found a chicken rice place that I only spent $3.72 for dinner.

The real thing though for this place is to wait. Wait until the evening time. Then the lanterns and lights go up and the people are out and its one of the singular places where you see the combination of river lights, people, city lights and lanterns. Its not like Shibuya or Ginza at all. You have to experience it.

Tomorrow I will go back out and do my usual wandering. Hoi An is a big clothing and tailor place but I don’t need any of that. What I needed was a place different and I think this is it.

Here’s the photos from today’s wandering.  Wha a great day!  It was a day turned to night and lights and beer and it was all good!

Fun and Frolic North of the Old Quarter

Tomorrow I leave for a few days in Hoi An so I ended up at this favorite beer place for cheap Halida draft beers in the old quarter. Its a nice place where a lot of tourists go but the prices are woozier. I can get three draft beers for about $1.70 cents total. Then I went over to eat at this place not far from the hotel. There I had a plate of Pho noodles with beef and a beer for about 75k VND. That’s about $3.30 for a plate of food I was very impressed with. The pho noodles fill up your tummy and the and beer is the dessert :-).

I also wandered around north of the old quarter almost up to Long Bien Bridge and the Water Tank. Its one of my favorite places to go walk because of all the differences as you walk the streets. Here are some photographs of today’s rather fun and sweaty rambling.

There are so many places in this beautiful city to get lost in that I seem to forever turn new streets and find a new temple, an interesting shopping district, or friendly people. I don’t know how many people on the street said hello today just walking by. Business people, folks that work in stores, young and old people. If you want to find a place that’s friendly, I would suggest that Hanoi is a likely locale. I do think you have to get away from the old quarter and find the places that will let you see the bigger city. Since its the capital of Vietnam you get to see government buildings, consulates and embassies, and private buildings. By the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and toward West Lake there are so many beautiful places.

I also paid my last month of rent at the hotel today and I’m good until June 14th. The next weeks leading up to my departure from Hanoi see me traveling to Hoi An, Hue, and then to Hong Kong for a Visa run. When I get back to Hanoi, I have one night at the airport and then a 30 hour train trip all the way from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam is a finger of land.

As you can see, Hanoi is in the north and Ho Chi Minh City is in the south. Connecting the cities are the usual international airports but that’s not the way to go if you want to really see the country. The way to really go is the 30 hours of the train trip. Its easy to fly north to south. A few hours and you are there. What have you seen though? I want to see all of Vietnam via the train.

Anyways, after Hoi an, I am back in Hanoi and have a few places I want to go here still. There are at least three museums here I will visit. But I guess I feel after paying the last month’s rent, that the time is slowly ticking by for my three months in Hanoi. Its been so good living here. I’ve met people, found excellent watering holes and food places, learned my way around. If you have a choice with your travels, try spending longer in places. The Vietnamese people are gracious and fun loving and enjoy talking about their country. They enjoy beer and good food and the prices are so reasonable for both.

I’ll be reporting and taking pictures on my travel to Hoi An next. I fly down tomorrow on Vietnam Airlines. Not only is the food and lodging cheap, but flying around Vietnam is also reasonable.

When my time is up and I must say Sayonara to Hanoi it will be with a heavy heart. I think that this is one of the best and most interesting cities to have hunkered down in and lived for awhile. I’m so glad I defined my travels for longer trips.

Photography for Fun and no Profit besides my own

So this post is about cameras and not so much about travel or vagabonding. I have a few interests in my every day retired life. One is to make every attempt at getting over 12k steps done each day and I have been pretty good. The second is to take my FujiFilm X100F camera with me and blaze new frontiers. The last or maybe the first is to simply enjoy life, drink the beer, eat the food, and remind myself every day that this is not travel.

In the interests of the camera and what I do with it, I have been messing with a variety of customization options and since I’m new I tend to do research online to find more experienced people that may have done the same thing. I’ve come to find out that there are a number of things particular to the Fuji X Series cameras which need testing and experimentation. The first are the film simulations. There are over 7 I believe and some have multiple options like Standard, Red, Yellow, Green. I cannot possibly test on all of them so I narrowed down my choices to two and I based this on the quality of the images. The two I like on the Fuji X100F are:

  1. Classic Chrome
  2. Acros

Both bring you back to the film days one way or the other. Classic Chrome has this wonderful look to it that to me is made for daily exploration in a city with vibrant colors. Acros on the other hand is a black and white simulation but it has this funky look and it has four options to try that each have different use cases. I’m sticking with Acros Standard and Red for now.

Then there are a whole slew of customization options and here is where the rubber meets the road. Its easy to go bat shit crazy and find whole bunches of different options to try. The customizations are:

  1. Noise Reduction
  2. Sharpening
  3. Shadows
  4. Highlite Tones
  5. Color

You can see the problem, right? Too may options and every photographer has a set of favorite changes. The problem is when you see their images and you do the changes rarely do you get a similar look. What to do? I decided. I went back to a resource I use which is a book written by Dan Bailey on the Fuji X series cameras. I basically reset them all to defaults since I was getting frustrated and the quality of the photographs were starting to flag and the fun of the whole thing was going down the drain. Photography is not a job for me. Its supposed to be a fun adventures where I learn, test, try, record and save. Yet all these settings frustrate me. I decide to try yet another set of customizations and then I’m calling out in pain so to speak. So I visit Dan’s ebook for help. The help is reset all of them to 0 and start with the basics. The next thing to learn is Exposure Compensation since most of us shoot in Aperture Priority mode anyways. This has an immediate affect on what you see in real time. Darken, lighten. Make immediate choices and see the results.

These other settings I have decided are important but I will only go after two of them. One is Highlight and the other is shadow. If I use them, I will want to build this subtle S curve in the camera. One either turns down or up the highlights and the other turns up or down the shadows.

Now that is an achievable target. Not 5 or 6 of them. Enough to test with. Lets first get the basic stuff working and learn the two film simulations better. Then lets learn the direct effect of Exposure Compensation. Then lets start with the settings that can change the images by adding or removing shadows or highlight tones. This is achievable. Reading settings that Fuji Pro’s use is not. I will never be able to duplicate nor would I want to their settings. What I really need is my own style so I created one.

My style I dub “Urban Photography”. I want to take pictures of people, buildings cars, parks, trees, historic sites, whatever but I want them to be done with my settings so they are marked as mine. I also do not want to edit RAW files or shoot in JPEG+RAW. Its too much damned work and I don’t want to sit around and edit files that have all the color simulations pulled out that I am so carefully learning. So the uses of Lightroom or Affinity Photo or Photoshop go away except to perhaps minimally edit the JPEGs.

Fun then comes back and life becomes better for my goals. I get to enjoy the photography and the walking and not deride myself that I cannot create an image in the likeness of some Fuji master. I am not a master nor do I want to be. I want to create images I save and share and perhaps are somewhat good. But, in the end, they are my images.

If you do photography, what are your goals? Do you have your own style or approach? Do you shoot in RAW format and then edit the photographs in Lightroom?

I think each of us has a style or approach or a knowledge thing we want with something. Whether it was before making projectile points from Edwards Plateau Chert or now shooting photographs in Hanoi. We cannot emulate the masters or our work is not our own. And the fun goes out and is most likely replaced by misery. Misery which my ex-wife would tell me is “optional”.

Traveling around today — the lake and other places

Cold beer at Hoan Kiem Lake and heard from my friend Nguyen that lives here in Hanoi wanting to meet to show me around the city. We will meet up in a few weeks when I get back from Hoi An. Today I walked around and around Hanoi mostly at the Hoan Kiem Lake area but also went to parts east, west, north and south. The city fascinates me with its different districts and how you can turn a street and suddenly be out of the frenetic pace of the old quarter and see wide blocks with few pedestrians.

I think that’s one of the fascinating parts of the city. Its not just one city. Its like a whole bunch of cities all compressed and laid out geographically and by walking you don’t see a gradual transition. You turn a corner where the pace of selling and buying is amazing and suddenly you find a quiet wide street with embassies and official residences. The streets are wide and it seems the traffic laws are a bit more taken. Strolling these streets there are not the shoe shine people, others wanting you to buy this or that. Its quiet and you can have a measure of time to reflect on the day. There are more up scale restaurants that I never go into and more coffee shops. Lets face it coffee in Vietnam is big business. The coffee shops dot the city blocks and I have gone in to a few when it rains. Language is no barrier to coffee. You point, they pour.

It was also a very pleasant yet warm day out today and I always work up a decent or even more sweat before I get done and I’m back at the lake. Then there is a 1.5 liter water bottle and I watch the people. I’ve come to the conclusion that most people are here on rather short visits. Maybe weeks. I’m going on my last month here. When I pay my room on Monday evening, it will be the last month in Hanoi for me but its packed with trips and getaways. I think I will miss the city that is actually several cities. It reminds me of Tokyo. When you go to Tokyo you realize its not a city but a group of districts and you can travel in a big circle and see them. The Tokyo metro subway helps with that endeavor significantly but the best way to see how Tokyo is Tokyo is by walking. Its a great city of many cities to walk in. Hanoi has a similar vibe going. Walking Hanoi means being able to be right there and see how the city changes.

The last time I went to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Park, its noticeable how the entire vibe and feeling changes. If you get here, why not spend a bit longer and dust off those walking shoes. You can do the street crossings by simply watching and going. The main thing is the going. Tour guides and cyclos are only part of the story. There’s a earthy and passionate feel to cities that you have to get when you cross the street, walk down that smaller street and see the places most tourists will never get to. Small parks and schools, kids laughing. Its all there for you.

But, in the meantime, here’s some pictures of the day out. I’m getting literally thousands of photos. Perhaps I will clean up the Hanoi photos at some point and delete some. I don’t pay for the storage though so the desire to clean it up is less.

If you are a wanderer and nomad or vagabond or whatever, consider the longer stays at places. I’ve benefitted a few ways from doing that. The tourist Visas are not that hard to deal with. The things you will learn will be greater and the travel becomes so much more than bucket lists and stamps in the passport.

Photography this and that in Hanoi Today

Today was a great day walking Hanoi and doing the photography thing. I’ve been studying more about two primary film simulations on the FujiFilm X100F. I think the best film simulations are the Classic Chrome and the Acros. So went out today to practice on them more. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I do photography with the camera. There are those that say one must shoot in RAW to get the best editing. Others say you must shoot in RAW+JPEG to have the best of both worlds. People that shoot in RAW fire up some editor to make their work better. They work tirelessly on creating the best image after getting the RAW file, doing things to it, and then exporting to JPEG. Then it gets shared on Facebook or Instagram or whatever. My question today was why. Why do all that? Doesn’t the Fuji system provide the best quality JPEGs out of the camera? Really it depends on the person to make the right calls, to understand the camera, the light, the shadows. So why go to all that bother to edit the photos in Lightroom or any of them?

I’ll preface this by saying I have Affinity Photo on my MAC. I can edit the JPEGs or the RAW files. I’m not limited. What do I really want though as an avocational and novice photographer. It comes down to a few things:

  1. Enjoyment. I want to enjoy the time out. I don’t want to worry whether I should be shooting in RAW to make it possible to do editing in Lightroom or affinity. I am out there to enjoy the camera, the sweat, the weather, the walking, the beer.
  2. Learning. Combine the enjoyment with the learning. I want to learn how to use the camera and get the better quality JPEGs using the two film simulations I’ve chosen to focus on.
  3. Sharing. I like to share my efforts at photography with people. Its really not the primary thing though. Sharing is nice because people can see where you are, what you’re doing, the fun you’re having.
  4. Recording. I want to keep the photo’s on Google Photos forever. So when I go to Cambodia in months and someone says “what did you see in Vietnam?” I have an answer. Its there in the google photos. The streets, the people, the places.

So what I’ve decided is to not mitigate the fun of photography and only shoot in JPEGs and not RAW files. I will never sell my work and I will always be learning on the camera. I will never be good. It will be a stretch to do the photography but the Fuji camera is the best for that stretch for me. I can carry it easily in my bag on my trips. Not a gaggle of lens. Not multiple camera bodies. I saw this person with multiple cameras today. I could only wonder why. It cannot be fun.

And what I want is fun. Its part of the first thing above. So here’s the day’s work and fun and learning. Its a progression of learning black and white using the Acros film simulation and getting better using the Classic Chrome simulation and the funky nature of the camera itself. No more debates on the advanced editing of those RAW files or shooting in both. You get the JPEGs. Be happy and thrive!

Walking to the Beat in Hanoi

North to Long Bien Bridge I heard the voices say over coffee this morning. I wandered over to Starbucks and sat for awhile over a coffee and blueberry muffin and read for a bit on the kindle. There was no rush to starting because I had the day in front of me. A day to spend in the solitary pursuit of walking the beautiful and mysterious city of Hanoi. Its a city of many cities you see. There is the tourist Mecca around Hoan Kiem Lake and the old quarter. Shops vying for the sale or the shoe shine or whatever. Once you leave that though, like walking north to the Long Bien Bridge area, the roads open up and large sidewalks give you access to so many choices. You can walk to West Lake perhaps if you want or cut through more of the shops and districts. I saw flowers and metal and computer districts that I walk through. All there for the shopper in you!

But I don’t do a lot of shopping. In fact, none at all. Nothing really needed now but I will get a baseball cap and a t-shirt before leaving Hanoi. Nothing is really gained from buying it now. I walk through a thousand clothing stands every day and can find what I want tomorrow or a week from now.

I also think I found a decent Mekong Delta tour that I may take in early September. I got a quote back and while its a bit more expensive it also is tailored for what I want in two days and a night.

Today’s photography is courtesy of the Provia or standard film simulation with some color, sharpness, and other controls altered to give the photos a different look. I really like Provia and Classic Chrome on the camera so may set up some custom settings with those and the values I like tomorrow. I don’t see a use for Astia at this moment so will ignore it until later. Here’s the fruits of those steps for you to see. The google photo stream is growing by leaps and bounds. I’m glad its unlimited!

Hanoi shined today and the beer was cold and the day was beautiful. I have a little over a month left here with trips coming up. I think staying longer in Hanoi has been a good thing. Long staying is a thing which yields a lot of benefits in learning the city, the places to go and how to get around. Yet there is mystery because every street turned down means dozens of others missed. Walking the city every day has been a wonder. I will always look back on the streets photos and marvel at the things I have seen.

Sunday with Blue Skies and feet touching pavement in Hanoi

Sunday is a warm day in Hanoi. Was great for walking a different direction south and west of the old quarter. I never really know where I’ll end up when I start. It makes the photography and getting to the 10k steps goal more entertaining. South of the old quarter the streets open to wide blocks with larger stores and the mix of modern and French colonial architecture a delightful combination. Not many tourists wandering those streets. The people are more open and smile. I get invited to coffee shops more and the restaurants dot the blocks with pho and banh mi and other foods. Most at excellent prices. A baguette called banh mi in one of 10 styles goes for about 16000 VND.

There are not the touristy shoe shine, hats, or cyclopeds trying to earn some money. It’s all quieter and yet more busy. It’s like a different city than the jammed and busy old quarter. It’s why you should adventure forth in Hanoi.

The next few weeks see me traveling to two destinations. First off on 16 May I will go to Hoi An for 4 days. Then on 2 June, I am off to Hue. Both cities are rich in historical and cultural significance for Vietnam. I fly out of the Hanoi Airport on cheap economy tickets for both flights.

May is my last full month in Hanoi so I need to go to a few places I have not been yet. I have a bucket list of sorts of things to do:

  1. Hanoi Museums. The Museum of Ethnography and the Vietnam military museum are close to each other but I will probably split up the visits into two days and walk a different way to each next week.
  2. Water Puppet Show. I need to see the water puppet show here in the old quarter. There are a few I can do but the price is about the same.
  3. Buy a few small souvenirs like a t-shirt and baseball cap. North of the lake there are so many places to find this stuff!

After I get back from Hue, I only have about a week left in Hanoi. Then I jet off to Hong Kong and my visa run for a few days. Upon getting back to Hanoi, I spend one night at the airport and then take the train from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City and begin my two months and change of staying there. I have a few trips planned for there too. I am gonna go to beaches in south Vietnam because there are a number of them. I also decided on a trip to Danang for a week so am going there. Flying around Vietnam is really easy. Airline prices are cheap and you can get to most places via the big and regional airports and airlines.

One thing it looks like I miss is the Mekong Delta tour I wanted to do unless I can find one that I could do before riding the train south. I really wanted to do that tour but I can come back from Cambodia and get it done I guess.

Anyways, it was a beautiful day out and the photo stream shows it pretty well I think.

Have a great weekend and enjoy yourself. You deserve it!

Going Slow – Another month and change in wonderful Hanoi

I talked today with the folks that run the long stay hotel I am in. I wanted to stay in the same room I have had and at first I thought I may have to move but they have locked me in to the room until my departure from Hanoi on 14 June. The whole thing about traveling this time I wanted to restate. The going slow part reaps benefits. I get to settle in to a place, learn the restaurants, the walks I can do, the places. Given that I will never see the wondrous city of Hanoi completely and I don’t expect to. What I do expect is to leave in June with a set of memories locked in with my photographs of thousands of memories of the streets and the people and the culture and food. If you are considering a trip and perhaps are old and close to retirement or you have retired and wonder how to make ends meet, let me tell you to consider doing what I did. Getting the six month multiple entry visa for Vietnam was totally worth it. I will have spent 3 months give or take in beautiful Hanoi and still will have two months and change in Ho Chi Minh City.

The good thing about travel this way is that you can budget the time and expenses and also book very reasonable domestic flights to various and sundry places in north, central, and south Vietnam. So many places and I will probably not make it to the Mekong Delta at this point due to weather issues when I want to go. I may have to come back from Cambodia or do the trip along the delta from Phnom Penh instead. I just don’t want to miss things.

I chatted with a friend on Facebook Messenger today while having beers and watching a rain shower move in and then just as suddenly move out. I was telling him its not so much how many countries you can get stamped in your passport. Its more about finding a place you can settle into. Vietnam is easy to settle into.

Like I posted before, the services you need like cell phone, laundry, haircuts, and buying clothing can happen here easily. Finding a cheaper hotel in the old quarter is like flipping a coin. I am staying in one that charges $12 a night long stay. I don’t like Hostels so I never book them. I don’t like sharing or hearing snoring or drunks or a bunch of gab. When I get done with the day of seeing the places I walk to, I want solitude. I have found you can stay just as cheap or perhaps a dollar more or two and get a room with a bathroom. My room has TV and a fridge that works and has AC. AC! Very nice! I use it every night now to sleep better.

Anyways, today I went north and walked longer and saw streets and people and stuff that I had not seen but also got to one of my landmarks the water tower which always tells me how to get back once I find it. Google Maps ain’t a slouch either. Here’s some photographs with my trusty Fuji X series camera. Except for the food picture which is always easier with the iPhone.

Anyways, give it some thought when you plan a trip. Why rush through the itinerary especially retirement beckons. I’ve found Vietnam to be an excellent place to hunker down and enjoy staying longer. You won’t find more friendly people! Today drinking beer, the school let out and I was told Hello by so many school children.

Now I slow down and perhaps drink another beer and watch a movie on youtube. Think about tomorrow and that there are no places and no chores and no projects. No risks and milestones and issues. Its like I waited so long to be done with doing Program Management and when it happened, the main thing that struck me was the freedom from the never-ending webex calls, meetings, emails. Maybe you do something different. But if you are gonna retire, why not do something really different. Consider the slow travel and vagabonding. Become a hobo of the lifeways.