Without an H

Photography from south-east Asia by Jon Sanwell

(Intermission: Back to Hanoi)


Regular readers will know that I’ve spent the last three and a half months or so following the Mekong river from Yunnan province in China, through Laos and Cambodia, and into the Mekong delta in the south of Vietnam. That trip has now come to an end, and it’s time for me to get back to real life, and the business of finding a job and somewhere to live. And that’s where a big change comes in: having lived in Saigon since the end of 2011, I’m moving back to Hanoi. Hanoi is where I lived for more than two years when I first came to Vietnam, and it’s the place in the country where I feel most at home. People in the south tend to look at me like I’m crazy when I say I prefer life in the north, and it’s not really something I can explain logically; all I can say is that it’s a move that feels right for me.

The pictures above were taken during a quick visit to Hanoi back in April. I might not be posting any new pictures for a while, but there are still more to come from the Mekong trip. I’ll still be taking pictures in Hanoi, but I want to build up a bit of a collection, and get the rest of the Mekong pictures out of my system, before sharing anything new.

28 Responses to “(Intermission: Back to Hanoi)”

  1. sylvia

    I can completely relate to the need to clear the backlog of photos from a trip before moving on…we traveled almost the entire first 8 months of this year, and I’m a bit overwhelmed knowing where to even begin to get caught up with it all. It’s so hard sometimes to make that call with a blog: stay current or catch up with first. I go back and forth. Sometimes it’s hard for me to be as excited about something I took a while back as the shots I took today. But I’m looking forward to seeing more from your trip!

    • Jon Sanwell

      Eight months of pictures is a lot to get through! I was editing and posting while I was travelling, so I’m not too far behind, but I think it will be good to clear the decks before posting anything from Hanoi.

  2. Alan P.

    Those were fun trips. I bet you must have enjoyed the ethnic food everywhere as much as we enjoy your photography.
    Good luck! Hope you land on a job you really like.

  3. purplekatek

    Fab photos as always! So how about a couple of pictures from your trip to Hanoi with your sister last November? 😉

  4. alicehodgson33

    What an amazing trip – I’m going to be floating down the Mekong from Northern Thailand to Luang Prabang and can’t wait! I heard Hanoi is a bit more gruff/grim than Saigon, have they been unfair to the city?

    • Jon Sanwell

      Yes, I think “gruff/grim” is a little unfair! Hanoi’s a little rougher round the edges than Saigon, in that it’s less Westernised, but there are more lakes and parks, and it feels safer than Saigon, where street crime seems to be on the increase. Hanoi’s not perfect, but I think it has a lot more character than Saigon.

      Enjoy your trip – that stretch of the river between Huay Xai and Luang Prabang is really lovely.

  5. dalo2013

    Enjoyed your photos and your journey, and it must be nice to be starting on another one (Hanoi and getting back ~ or leaving, depending on perspective ~ the real world).

    • Jon Sanwell

      Thanks, Randall. Yes, it’s good to have a new start – though, as you say, whether teaching English in Hanoi counts as the real world is open to question.

  6. Chris Whiffin

    Well, there are plenty of us living in the north who think you’d have to be crazy to want to live in the south!w

  7. freegerry

    Hey man! These pictures are awesome and I agree with your words too! Glad to hear that you’ve moved back to the capital! We all know it’s the real Vietnam Keep safe X

  8. siobhanambersmith

    Absolutely love this post – amazing photos.

    I have been traveling through South East Asia this year and am currently living in Hanoi teaching English. I love it but it does have its more difficult moments! I made the choice to live here over Saigon and I think it was the right one, for me anyway. If you have a second you can check out/follow my blog here:


    Look forward to reading more posts from you!


  9. Rishi Pruthi

    Brilliant photograph. I’ve always wanted to travel through Asia. One day it will happen!

  10. kazg10

    Hanoi was my most favourite city, thanks for taking me back.. love the rich colours and interesting characters.

  11. tungmoc

    Really like your pic. I lived in Hanoi too and these pics are still very beautiful for me. I love it. Thank you for reminding me of home.


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