Under Great Northern Skies

36 images Created 14 Sep 2011

In my travels at least, I don't think I've ever found a nation that differs so vastly from north to south as does Vietnam. According to my own, admittedly fabricated lore, I imagine the great hills and sharp peaks of the North as the scaly, rugged head of the dragon, as the body winds its way down the majestic panoramas of coastline, ending in a collection of watery tails in the Mekong Delta.

These images, captured on several excursions in the region over the years, are a look at the lives and land of Vietnam's great North. Busy city streets are nowhere to be found. Instead, bikes barely more durable than scooters ply their way up and down the pastoral slopes on imperfect trails, and trucks wind their way though endless curvature as the roads ascend and fall, all at a snails pace compared to the clip of city life. The work that sustains life comes in a much more manual flavor than it does in the cities as well, where even most earn a living only by long days and sweat of the brow. Here, a living can only be borrowed from the soil. Nothing valuable is given without effort.

And of course the faces are measurably different too. The Kinh features and language so familiar to us who've spent time in Vietnam, are traded for ethnic features, dress and cultures in numerous varieties, 54 if I'm not mistaken.

These hills hold great intrigue for me, offering sights and scenes not found anywhere else in the country, and I will surely make my way back again soon, when I hear the dragon calling myself and my lens away from the city and toward the great northern skies.
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