Without an H

Photography from south-east Asia by Jon Sanwell

Posts tagged ‘ho chi minh city’

Lost and found


In my idle moments – and I have a few – I often ask myself about what I was doing one year ago. Posing this question again earlier this week, I thought back to the little window of time I spent in Saigon after returning to Vietnam from the UK and before leaving on my Mekong trip. At the end of April last year, I was making plans for my upcoming travels and waiting for my Chinese visa to come through. I also took a few pictures out and about in Saigon, pictures which I had forgotten about until this week.

They’re a little different to the photographs I’ve been taking in Hanoi recently – colour rather than black and white, and taken with a standard zoom rather than my 35mm lens, so the framing is a little tighter in some of these than in my more recent shots. Right now, I’m not sure which approach I prefer, but I’m glad that I found these pictures gathering digital dust in a neglected corner of my Lightroom catalog.
















Men at work


I’ve heard it said that women do all the hard work in Vietnam.  There may be some truth in that; it certainly seems, sometimes, that men take a more – shall we say – relaxed approach.  Here we have a cigarette seller, a repairman and a tailor, all seen hard at work over the last week.





Vietnamese markets are hot, noisy, crowded, exhausting places.  No wonder these three had escaped to the shade of an alleyway for a sit-down and a chat.



Back in the HCMC


On Sunday, I made it back to Vietnam after four months back in the UK. I’m still adjusting to not being cold all the time. I’m used to life in Vietnam and I knew what to expect coming back, but I still felt a little odd and disconnected when I first got back. Things were familiar, yet strange.  Was this just jet-lag, or was it a case of reverse reverse culture shock?

Anyway, yesterday, after a couple of days of sleeping at peculiar times and wondering at the strange feeling of warmth in the air, I went for a wander with my camera. I was a little apprehensive, having hardly taken any pictures at all while back at home, but after a slow start, I found myself getting back into my stride.  I was a little slow to react at times, and more tentative than I would like, but I enjoyed myself and I came back with a few pictures that I like, one of which I’ve posted here.

I felt like I was racing against the rain all afternoon. There was that feeling that a downpour was imminent – all looming black clouds, swirling wind and fragile sunshine – but the rain, when it came, was late in the day and little more than a shower. The rainy season isn’t ready to arrive just yet.

So long Saigon


One day I’ll write a blog post that eloquently sums up the joys, disappointments, pleasures and frustrations of living in Saigon.  But not today.  Instead, here are some pictures taken over a couple of days in December, as I was preparing to come back to the UK for Christmas.


Cosmopolitan (potw #42)


In order to avoid doing my packing this afternoon, I went for a wander with my camera. I’ve not taken that many pictures in Saigon recently – these pictures of the week have tailed off quite a bit – but I’ve taken a few that I like over the last couple of days. Here’s one of them to be going along with. She sells magazines in District 1.

Later today, I’ll be flying home for Christmas and the New Year. I have five weeks in the UK before coming back to Saigon – briefly – in January.  After that, I’ll be heading off to the next place, though I’m not entirely sure where that will be yet.  First I plan to travel through some other parts of south east Asia for a while.  So this is a kind of farewell to Saigon, but maybe not to Vietnam.



This is a collection of Saigon street portraits from the last year or so, which I had previously overlooked, or which didn’t fit into earlier posts.


Under grey Saigon skies

I’ve been shooting just in black and white for a couple of months now.  I wanted to do something different for my trip to Dalat, so a couple of weeks before leaving, I began my self-imposed black and white challenge, and have continued with it on the few occasions I’ve been out with my camera since coming back to Saigon.  I’m naturally drawn to colour when I’m out with my camera, so shooting with the intention of creating black and white images has made me more selective about who and what I take pictures of.

Much as I’ve enjoyed this black and white phase, I’m also looking forward to going back to colour for a while.  At the weekend, I’m heading north for a couple of weeks.  I’ll be spending most of that time in the hills in Lao Cai province, so you can expect to see lots of green on this blog before too long, though I also have an idea for a black and white series of Hanoi pictures.