Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Hanoi | Report Three | The People of Tay Bac

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
The current high humidity prompted me to set aside our Hanoi street photography program, and flee with the group to the equally humid (but less crowded) village of Tho Ha village, about 45 kilometers from the capital city. Tha Ho village's claim to relative fame is in it's specialization of producing rice paper, used for spring rolls and other Vietnamese culinary dishes.

Serendipity played its role in us passing by a row of old houses, and meeting Việt. Our minder, Huyen, asked permission to enter his house where he welcomed us with remarkable hospitality, offering us rice wine in small goblets... quite potent at this time of the day.

Seeing a collection of traditional instruments on his living room's walls, I asked if he played them...and he said yes. Being encouraged to play, he grabbed one these stringed instruments and started singing a number of traditional Vietnamese songs, and entertained us for over an hour. Naturally, we whipped out our cameras and audio recorders.

As soon as I realized Việt's talents, I thought I'd suggest him as being the subject of the group's first multimedia assignment. Ten photographs and a snippet of his music playing in a short multimedia project would be the group's initial homework.

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
What other news? Well, I was asked by the owner of the Golden Silk Boutique Hotel (a lovely hotel perfectly located in Hang Gai) to make some photographs of her at the hotel...a request that I jumped at. I didn't expect any, but she gifted me a lovely scarf in return. She probably realized my affinity to scarves, and chose one that is really luxurious. It'll certainly not be used during my photographic travels.

Oh, and by the way...the best Pho Bo I've ever had (and this is shared by the rest of my group) is at a modern restaurant on Ly Quoc Su...a short walk from the hotel.

Tomorrow, we travel to Sa Pa and it was with considerable relief that we received confirmation that there's a newly constructed road linking Hanoi to Sa Pa. No trucks are allowed so the travel time has been cut from 10-12 hours to a mere 5.