Self Portrait: The Shadows of Hoi An, Vietnam - Southeast Asia

Self Portrait: The Shadows of Hoi An, Vietnam - Southeast Asia

Self Portrait: The Shadows of Hoi An, Vietnam - Southeast Asia


Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow.

T. S. Eliot


Hoi An!

Wonderful Hoi An!

Beautiful Hoi An!

The first experience most visitors have of Vietnam are the gateway cities of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) in the South or Hanoi in the North. Whatever city you decide to land in most visitors will visit what I call the big three of Vietnam: Sapa, Halong Bay and Hoi An.

Hoi An is located on the coast of the South China Sea in central Vietnam. Hoi An was an important Vietnamese trading center in the 16th and 17th centuries and as a result it is a mixture of Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese and French architecture. In 1999 the old town was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Hoi An is Vietnam’s answer to Disneyland. It is like a group of Vietnamese imagineers (Disney speak for designers and engineers) came together to design a quintessential, fairy tale town full of bright yellow buildings, glowing silk lanterns, historical assembly halls (Chinese temples), tailor shops where you can have custom made suits made within 24 hours and the best sunrises and sunsets in the country. In summary, this place was made for photographers. If there is a more photogenic city in Vietnam than Hoi An, I did not see it in my two months of travel in the country.

The old town of Hoi An is small enough to walk around or rent a bicycle like I did. I found the best time to photograph was around sunset at the riverfront. The yellow buildings would have an ephemeral glow from the late afternoon light.

Did I say this place was made for photographers?

In Hoi An you do not need to look for photo opportunities, they come to you!

Simply position yourself by one the bright, yellow buildings and wait for a desired subject to enter your frame. Something or somebody interesting will pass by every 15 to 30 seconds.

In this case I took a self portrait of myself with my shadow against the yellow wall, set my camera to a slow shutter speed and captured this local Vietnamese woman on a bicycle (Hoi An’s common mode of transport) wearing Vietnam’s iconic conical hat.

Hoi An!

Wonderful Hoi An!

Beautiful Hoi An!

Check back for more of my adventures in Vietnam!

Happy Travels!

Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography

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Taken on: 24th April, 2012. Copyright: All Rights Reserved - See Sam Antonio Photography's page of Flickr

Read more about Old town

The beaches and corals may take centre stage on Ko Lanta, but to the east lies a minor player with no desire to make headlines.

Old Town, or Sang Kha Ou, is a remarkable community that has survived a tsunami and, so far, warded off overdevelopment. As the only real community on Ko Lanta's east coast, it almost revels in its isolation and couldn't be further removed from the beaches and resorts on the west coast.

A mix of Thais, Muslims, Chinese and sea gypsies, the old town has an old world feel thanks to rickety old wooden shops and homes built on stilts that sit out over the sea.

In 2004 the Asian tsunami tore the pier into two pieces, and some of the rubble can still be seen lying next to its replacement. The sea gypsies that lost their boats and therefore livelihoods are still here and now live in new orange bungalows provided by a Christian charity.

On Sundays a lively market is held in one corner of the town, where Muslim women sit and gossip while others sell ... Read our complete Old town travel guide

More images

I hope you find this photograph compelling - Hoi An, Vietnam French Colonial Meets Market Capital Vietnam 2 019a Hanoi Old Town Vietnam 2 021a Hanoi Old Town