Asia Vietnam

Hanoi Countryside: The Trang An Photo-Photo Experience

Despite language barriers, we understand each other through smiles. And the smile of this man who rowed for us for hours in Trang An with a poker face, is one of the highlights of this part of the trip to the north of Hanoi.

We visited Trang An on a semi-cloudy day, right after a sumptuous lunch. An afternoon nap would have been a brilliant idea at that time, except that when you’ve already had a glimpse of Trang An, you wouldn’t even want to blink, in case you miss anything during that millisecond.

Because the sky warned of a possible rain shower, it left us no choice but to purchase disposable plastic rain coats. Not that we fear rain – it is more because our gadgets would need the protection, just in case.

And so off we go, to what will be an hour or two of rowing on the serene river.

Here is Paolo feeling the serenity already.

I had no idea what to expect, actually. This was a surprise part of the itinerary since we just tagged along with the three other traveling Filipinos we met back at the hotel.

We were quite lucky that there weren’t a lot of tourists rowing at that time. It was almost empty, actually. There was a lot of opportunity to take no-tourists nature-only photos.

There are two things that are surprising (and almost odd) about this photo: The first is that the woman is rowing with her feet, almost as if she’s cycling on the water – and at such a speed! The second is that she’s doing all this holding an SLR. She has an SLR!

We would later find out that there were more of them with SLR’s, even at the temples where the tourists could stop over.

IMPORTANT: these locals asked us to pose several times in the temple and on the boat, with different backgrounds. They took our photos – solo, by pairs, as a group – and we knew that they will sell some of them to us. We didn’t mind actually. We posed a lot, telling them that at the end of the tour, we’d choose which pictures we want printed. It might have been language barrier, but when we were done, they have printed everything (almost 70 photos, I think) and asked us to pay. Of course, we did not agree to this. I remember it was worth less than PHP 100 each – but still, it was too much. Tim, our tour guide, came to the rescue and discussed with them. We just bought what we chose and paid. As we were leaving, they still followed us, asking us to pay for everything in an angry tone. In the van, Tim told us this wasn’t the first time this has happened. Lesson learned! So if you ever visit Trang An, politely say no to “photo-photo” requests. (We should have – how dumb we were!)

Now, taking a step back from that unnecessary experience, the temples were actually worth taking photos of. Just use your own camera now, alright?

Reverse things. Take photos of the locals instead. They’d gladly pose as much as you would anyway.

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