Travel: The Streets of Saigon

Ho Chi Minh turned out to be even better for street photography than I expected. The first thing you notice when you get out of the airport is that you’ve never seen so many motorbikes in your life. After that, all the chaos of the city sets in. There is just so much movement everywhere, all the time. The city is constantly bustling with nonstop activity.

Another thing that hits you after a little while is that people are always hustling hard to make a living. It seems that just about every block in HCM is packed with stores, restaurants, and cafes…and then there are people all along the sidewalks selling all kinds of things. Taxis seem to camp out on just about every block waiting to find people needing a ride.

Anyways, onwards to the photos!!!

The most interesting spot to shoot at was the side street at 137 Tran Dinh Xu (thanks Andrew for pointing this place out!). This narrow street is lined with little houses all bunched together and in the morning, all the residents open up their houses - which are actually shops and sell all kinds of things in front of their house. I’ve never seen anything like that before and it was really fun to experience walking down there and seeing all the local life all around.

Just outside our place we met the fattest little dog ever. Now Jade wants to have a fat dog. :)

This was the most fun shot of the trip. I have no idea what was going on here lol. If any of you do, please drop me a line. 

HCM was such a memorable experience. Looking forward to sharing our next trip with all of you! We are still undecided about which country to visit next in Southeast Asia…any suggestions let us know!

And to wrap it up...a little section on gear. :)

For this trip, I wanted to go light - and so I ended up bringing only a Canon 6D attached to a Capture Leash strap (I like it because it’s super lightweight and the smooth material doesn’t grip to your shoulder - plus it’s easy to wrap around your hand for those instances when you just want to have your camera at the ready for quick shooting) and the 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens for a super light full frame setup. I carried all this plus an iPad Air in my new favorite gun metal Crumpler Mild Enthusiast bag.

What I love about the bag is that it can not only carry your iPad but also your DSLR and still has a lot of space left for other assorted stuff. In my case that ‘other assorted stuff’ included a Gorillapod SLR Zoom with Manfrotto 494RC2 ballhead for selfies. :) Plus there’s a zippered compartment that can easily fit a stack of cash and your passport. But what I like most about the bag is that you choose to either sling it on your shoulder or wear it as a hip pack. This is really important for traveling since the weight of all this stuff can you give you some serious shoulder ache after a while. By wearing it as a hip pack (don’t worry this bag doesn’t look dorky or touristy) you don’t feel the weight nearly as much and I was fresh for the 3 days we were in HCM walking all around. Also I bought a small lock for the bag as Crumpler thoughtfully made the zippers lockable which is great for walking around the city worry-free.

I thought about bringing the 5D but the weight of the camera is so much more than the 6D, plus it doesn’t have convenient Wifi for transferring your photos to your iPad on the go. I also thought about bringing the 24-70mm but lately I haven’t been using it for travel at all since it’s just so bulky and on top of that I’ve been shooting almost exclusively with primes. I also find that with a lighter setup I don’t think twice about whether or not to bring the camera along wherever I go. The 40mm offers the same aperture, is just wide enough, is super sharp and contrasty, weighs a fraction of the 24-70mm, has quick autofocus, and is so much more discrete for street photography.