Without an H

Photography from south-east Asia by Jon Sanwell

Looping the loop (day 4 in Ha Giang)


For most of this trip to Ha Giang province, in the mountains of northern Vietnam, I was concentrating on taking landscape pictures, something I don’t do that often. It was a nice change of pace for me; when I’m shooting portraits or street scenes in Hanoi, I’ll often take a lot of pictures of the same person or scene, hoping to find the right expression, angle or moment. Landscape photography is a slower, more considered process, and requires a different mindset. I should do more of it. But there’s more to Ha Giang than landscapes. Early in the morning of my last day on the road, I visited the tiny market village of Du Tien, near Du Gia, and had the chance to shift gears and go back to taking people pictures. I always enjoy wandering around markets in Vietnam, and elsewhere in south-east Asia, and I wish I’d taken in more on this trip. This market was mostly made up of stalls selling clothes, fabric and household goods, and was populated by people from a number of different ethnic minority groups.












After leaving the market, we embarked on the final leg of the journey, from Du Gia back to Ha Giang City. The low cloud of the morning gave way to hazy sunshine as the day progressed.






I remember approaching Ha Giang City again, the loop almost complete, watching the distance to our final destination gradually counting down on the roadsigns, and wishing that this wasn’t the end and that the journey could continue for longer. I was feeling nostalgic about the trip, and it wasn’t even over yet. As I mentioned in the first of these Ha Giang posts, I’d wanted to visit this beautiful province for years; I’m so glad I finally made it up there, and am looking forward to a return visit in the spring.


15 Responses to “Looping the loop (day 4 in Ha Giang)”

  1. Alison and Don

    Thank you for this glimpse into their world. It makes me want to go back to Vietnam and explore the north more.

    • Jon Sanwell

      Thanks, Alison. There’s so much to see in the north – I think I only really scratched the surface on this trip.

  2. BuntyMcC

    Oh my: the girl with the branches. It combines landscape and portraiture so movingly. I also like the one looking down on the workers harvesting (rice?)

    • Jon Sanwell

      Thanks, Bunty. Yes, it’s rice they’re harvesting, though in most places the harvest had already finished. These farmers had left it late for some reason.

    • Jon Sanwell

      Yes, I like that one too. Always seems to be the case in these markets that the women do all the hard work while the men drink and hang out.

  3. Jasmine

    The last landscape photo is my favorite. One thing I have recently found out about myself is I love seeing wildlife in it’s natural habitat. Have you taken any photos you could direct me towards of the wildlife in Vietnam?

    • Jon Sanwell

      Hmm, not sure I can help really. I haven’t really done any wildlife photography, I’m more of a portrait person. There are a few nature reserves and national parks in Vietnam, so I’d investigate those.


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