Road to El Dorado


TPF Noob!
Oct 6, 2015
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Hanoi, Vietnam
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Hey friendly photographers, how have you been doing?

Good to be back with thephotoforum again. This time I will be sharing with you about a journey of mine, to the northern part of Vietnam. It is now October - the rice harvest season & the time that rice turns into a mesmerizing golden color on the hillsides. Yes, I want to capture it and to share with you all.

For this ride, I used a Yamaha WR250X:


The Yamaha is simply faster and much less...smoke comparing to my Minsk. Opps, sorry about the naked local gentleman, well, he is a tribal kid and they are all naked in that age.

The first part of the ride was 266 km from Hanoi to Tu Le, an amazing place with beautiful scenes. A is Hanoi in the picture beneath while B is Tu Le.


Tu Le is a small town, stretching along Road 32 of North Vietnam. The town is about 600 m above sea level, but there's really not much about the town itself apart from delicious sticky rice grown locally, great local moonshine and hot springs where the local bath nakedly and publicly (well, I don't share that part now yet). But this is what makes the town special: It is located right next to this valley:


To be honest, every U turn of road 32 starting from Tu Le is a place for panoramic shooting. Thanks to the high elevation that the road keeps going higher and higher, allowing more opts for panorama.

But I don't just shoot from above, my motorbike brings me on a ride in the middle of that rice field as well. How?


There's a little track connecting the main road and the valley. There are local minorities living sparsely around the valley.

Now I am fully surrounded with the gold color of the terraced rice field. Everywhere I walk, every corner I can use either my Canon 10-22 mm or 70 - 200 mm

Here's the snapshot of the 4 trees:


Looks peaceful, I want to spend my future honeymoon in a house like this, somewhere like this.

Of course there are corners that can help you highlight the terraces:


There are 02 times of the year that I myself want to go here: This period and the other one is in May, when the local farmers start the rice crop. At that time you can expect to see something totally different, but just as beautiful:


Leaving Tu Le, I ride for another 50 km up north, and uphill at the same time. I got to Mu Cang Chai, about 1000 m above sea level. Mu Cang Chai is another mountain town, surrounded by vast, vast fields of terraced rice plantation:


(to be continued...)
Gorgeous! I WANT TO GO!
Spectacular photos, that looks like a incredible trip! Thank you for posting them!!! :)
...last night I stayed at a lovely local homestay, a house on stilt. Had great moonshine with the host who was a very friendly chap.

And this morning, I made my way to some corners of Mu Cang Chai. What a heaven of landscape, everywhere you turn your lens to:


Anh the picture below was quite an experience. I got there just in time that some local women are walking along the rice paddy's bank:


Look at the "rings" behind these women. Trust me or not, the rice grown on there has to be kept untouched till some politicians (who love photography) come for shots. Afterwards the local can then harvest. Well, sometimes politicians arrive late, you know. And that leaves the rice too well ripe, which is not a perfect time (anymore) to harvest.

So...thinking I've had what I need. I continue to move further north. On the way, I find myself lost in beautiful tea plantations. Yes, apart from rice, the local grow lots of tea - the traditional beverage of the Vietnamese. I see local women picking up the leaves:


And more, quite a DOF presentation from my Cabin 70-200 mm F/2.8...


The "lines" are what I find really photogenic here. Sometimes they are straight, sometimes they curve beautifully:


As I get closer to Sa Pa, the road becomes windy and really, really thrilling:


I used a bit of HDR in the above picture, well, not up to what I had expected, but at least it can show you the scenery.

And Sapa has appeared, surrounded by the green bush. This little town was founded hundred of years ago, during the colonial time, as a resort area for the French Officials who were working in Hanoi.


Here, a buddy of mine, also working for Vietnam photo tours joined me for the trip. I am no longer a lone rider:


( be continued...)

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