I think every staircase, and there are many of them, in the Chinese emperors’ Forbidden Purple City in the heart of Hue, Vietnam is flanked by dragon’s like this one. In fact, if you look into the background of this picture, and squint a bit, you’ll see four more examples in the building across the way.
Before I was able to take this photo, my friend Shannon and I, following a decision to rent a kayak, had navigated through rough waters and squeezed ourselves through a narrow gap in the rocks to find safe harbor. Following that drama, we got to glide past the floating villages that surround Cat Ba Island.
We came across this fisherman towards the end of our trip and I asked if I could take a photo. He was kind enough to slow down as he pulled his nets to pose!
When we arrived in the Mekong Delta it was late evening. There was an old lady sat in our lobby who offered to arrange a guide for us in the morning. I was a little suspicious of this seemingly too convenient option, particularly as a guy who had been on our bus repeatedly tried to direct us to the wrong hotel just before our arrival.
But, it was late and we knew we needed an early start to get to the markets so we decided to go for it. She didn’t let us down as she escorted us to meet our guide who would take us out for the day. She picked up a load of reeds on the way and spent most of the day making little handicrafts for us as she meandered through the markets and streams that make up the Mekong.
We took a packaged tour to My Son and wound up on a big bus tour. I’m not very good at sticking with big groups of people and wandered off pretty quickly. A lot of this Hindu temple complex was ruined in the Vietnam war and the remaining bomb craters were a clear reminder of this – some were huge.
There were a number of tours moving around so once I had this photo set up I had to wait quite a while for them all to move on. I have a version with no people in it but decided I liked this one with a backpacker looking up at one of the temples.
On our first day in Phong Nha, we rented a scooter to take ourselves on a tour of the area and were given a total lemon with butterfly stickers all over it. The brakes barely worked so when we were going down steep hills my friend Shannon had to hop off and walk. Even with the brakes on full lock, I still had to use my feet to control the speed! All the while we were surrounded by thick Vietnamese jungle.
Half way around our loop we reached Paradise Cave. We parked the rusty steed and discovered there was quite a long hike up stairs to the mouth of the cave. As soon as we entered, it was clear that the climb was worth it. The photo you see below was taken just at the entrance, looking down into the first of numerous giant caverns. Unfortunately, it was at this point that I realized that I’d failed to pack any batteries for my camera. I rented another bike to return the next day (stipulating I needed a decent one this time).