Without an H

Photography from south-east Asia by Jon Sanwell



The Tet holiday is almost upon us, and the streets are full of kumquat trees. One of the traditions of the lunar new year in Hanoi is to decorate the home with these fruit trees, so the roads throughout the city are busy with motorbikes carrying shrubbery of varying sizes from growers’ gardens to people’s houses. The smaller trees look like they’d be blown away in a sharp breeze, while the largest ones are a danger to overhead power lines. In the narrow stretch of land between the flower market on Au Co and the Red River, there are dozens of plots given over to growing these kumquat trees. Late on Sunday afternoon, when I visited, the neighbourhood was busy with families picking out their trees, growers digging up their crop, and delivery drivers speeding in and out on their motorbikes.

Another Tet tradition is for expats to flee the city in search of warmer weather, and – although the winter has been mild so far – I’ll be joining the exodus. On Saturday, I’m flying to Burma / Myanmar for three weeks. It’s a new destination for me, and somewhere I’ve been wanting to visit for some time. I know a few people who’ve been there, and they all seem to glow a little when they talk about it. It will be a while before I post any pictures from the trip, as I’m not taking my laptop with me, but I have a few more Hanoi street portraits lined up to post while I’m way.

Chuc mung nam moi, everyone.

9 Responses to “Kumquat”

  1. traveller2006

    I’m two thirds through an 18 day trip round Myanmar at the moment. I’ve never seen so many pagodas and stupas gathered together in one place in my life! I shall look forward to seeing your photos. Enjoy your trip!

    • traveller2006

      PS Myanmar is the first country I’ve visited where I’ve wished I was a guy. There are a number of Buddhist pagodas where only men can enter the inner sanctum (and therefore take photos if you wish). You will be one of the lucky ones. When I asked our guide why this was, she explained that it is a Myanmar tradition.

  2. johnberk

    I adore your photos. They are full of life. I believe it is much more difficult to understand their way of life through the Western society optics. People in Ho Chi Minh City are so beautiful and seem really kind, almost untouched by modernity in a spiritual sense. I wish it would be the same in Canada. Maybe you should come and prepare some exhibition in Toronto.


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