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  • Episode 24, How to capture beautiful photos - Part 2

    What About Vietnam - S4-23 How to capture Beautiful Photos - in Vietnam or anywhere! - Part 2 [00:00:39] Kerry Newsome: Xin Chao and welcome to what about Vietnam? Today, we're going to be continuing with the series with Thomas Levine. And, I hope you're enjoying it. We've really learned a little bit more about Vietnam. And I think some of the attributes of the country that I guess, make it so exciting for people who love to take pictures and certainly learning with Thomas. Now, how to keep our eye in the right place, and use the camera to its best ability, is really going to make those pics extra special. So today is part 2 of this series. There's actually going to be 3 parts. And I'm going to be talking to, , another guest in part 3 about drone photography. So, I hope you'll stay tuned for part 3 in these photographic series. But today we are back with Thomas Levine. And we're going to be continuing the series with him and all of his extra tips. Let's be joined again with Thomas Levine. Let's just jump right back in where we pick up talking about colour and the importance or the role it plays in our photography. [00:02:09] Thomas Levine: Blue the sky, the water you relate to blue in that way. But it's also a very moody colour. It's relaxing. It's a deep thing. It's moody. It's colours have meanings. So green and blue are usually something that are relaxing to people. So, when they see the ocean, they see the sky, a blue sky. They think, oh, this is nice. And so that kind of gives you an overall feeling for the picture, but you want to, depending on what your subject is, if it's a boat or it gets into space. Space is another element. And like I was talking about the yellow with the red, that's a space thing too. The whole space is yellow except for that person with the red. And so your eye automatically goes because of the space. And it really, whatever that subject you have is the space. It's a smaller space and you want everything to support that. And I'm talking like it's very subjective and when you take a picture too, you think, oh, this is a great picture and you have this memory of this place, but you're not being objective because you know what it's like there. The picture will never be what it's like there. You can come up with a great picture, a piece of art, but when you relate it to what it's like when you were there, it doesn't really work. Okay. And this, that's just the way it is. Maybe the picture's great. And it looks better than a, sometimes the pictures look better than when you were there. But for me your memory is filling in the blank and you show this picture to somebody else and they go what is that? You know what it is,because you were there. But when somebody else sees it, they don't know what it is. So a lot times I'll take a picture of something and I want a piece of. If somebody's got their hands or their shoulder in the picture, I know there's a person there. You don't always have to show the whole person or the whole thing. What if it's a car or whatever. You just have to have an idea. Give them an idea of what it is because when they see that, then you know, they're like, oh, okay. It gets some realism into the picture. Yeah. I like pictures of people in some, in a lot of these. It just takes the element of boring out of it, I think. Because really it's all about people. Especially in Vietnam there's, it's a culture. It's a culture shock for some people here. But and there's a lot of different cultures here because there's a lot of different like when you go in the North Vietnam there's all these different villages and they speak different languages. Yeah. But the clothing is incredible. The colours. And sometimes it's hard to take a bad picture of that. But again, it depends on your lighting too. Lighting is another element of art. I, really think lighting is so important. And that will dictate your colours too. If it's low light, your red's not going to look red, it's not going to look bright red. It changes tones, it changes you. You're green, depends on what time of day it is. Might look real green and might not look green because of the sun. So the thing is, when you're there and you're looking at it with your eye makes these adjustments and you think you know what it looks like. And so that camera is going to be a different story. It's going to see what it's going to see. Correct. [00:06:04] Kerry Newsome: Yeah. And I get overly disappointed about that scenario when you are looking at these Green Mountains and there's, they're just rolling in front of you and you go, oh, this has got to be a great time to take the photo. And yet when you take that photo, that depth of colour is just not there because as you say, the sun in some way has put a film over. So, that real vigorous green is taken away or depleted. But I also take your point about people. I get so crazily mad with my husband when he takes a hundred of these photos in the hills and from all these vantage points. Then he goes to tell and show people when he comes back and goes, oh, we walked around here and. It's just boring. All these photos. Look you could have been in the Highlands of Scotland for all they knew because there's just no differentiation. It doesn't click. It doesn't have relativity. And I think that contrast, that's why your story about the red and the yellow, the conical hat that got the focus. Yeah. The hat is one of the best things to photograph here with people wearing them. It tells a story right there. Because it keeps the sun off of them. It keeps them dry, when it rains, it keeps the water off their face. And actually it's got a breathing element to it too, so you don't get as hot. Whoever came up with that, it must have been centuries ago. I don't know. But it was a great invention. Genius. Absolutely genius. Yeah I think speaking to the contrast. I'm always big in trying to get colours that contrast one another instead of, for one of a better word, same. Same because if you're in too much red and too much red is taking, nothing gets the focal point. But if you've got that red against a blue background you've got the red lanterns of Hoi An against Thu Bon River, you've got that contrast. and light is a lot of it. It's not even just the colours, it's also the dark and the light. So if you have that blue and you got the red blue's kind of darker. So that, that, that's a one way to think about it. Don't think just about the colour. It's also about dark and light, and that's the contrast sometimes. You can have a low contrast image. Because it wasn't. Really sunny or anything like that. But if you got some different colours going on in there and it's contrasty, that's a contrast of colour and that'll if you don't have the light, but you got the colour, sometimes you don't need the light like that, like you really want it to. Okay. [00:09:03] Thomas Levine: But there's a, when you do edit because even if you take a picture on a iPhone or a regular smartphone, You can change the hue on it and that, like the green, you can change it a little bit and it'll turn things more green. But the problem is if you overdo it, turn everything green. So it's just a slight change. And to me, I like green. I like, I want to see it's a like green also has this other thing with plants. The older the leaves, the darker, the green the new part of it is brighter. We like the brighter because it's new for some reason. So that's how I look at it. And like I said, your eye is making these adjustments and you don't notice it. The camera doesn't. So if you can change it when you edit it, Then you're compensating for that camera. So, it's not really changing it to where it's for the sake of change, you're changing it for a reason because you're eye, that's the way you see it. And that's the way I like to make a picture, is the way I see it. And you develop that vision, that's the whole thing is you're developing your vision for the camera to be able to take a picture. And that's really what it's about, is seeing because when you start learning more about photography, you start seeing different, you start seeing the light different, everything turned. You can take a, like a, like I took a picture of a, an orange one time and then, nah, it wasn't the great it wasn't, it's just an orange, it was hanging in Florida, it was hanging down the tree. But the light hit it just perfect. And it changes the entire orange. Because it was a low light, it was it was morning and that contrast with the side light and it had fill from the tree. So it wasn't dark on one side. It was darker, but it wasn't dark. Too dark on one side and it just, the light will make a picture. There's a lot of things you can do with photography, but you have to play with it. Yes, and I think the playing with it is a little bit of a challenge for everyone, because I know when you're traveling you're sometimes on a bit of a timetable and you've got either get back on the bus the bus is leaving or you, you're with a group and you may be with a partner. That's, dare I say, not so patient. In you wanting to take, I can vouch for that permanently, but if you're traveling with somebody who is looking to achieve similar photography of a quality that you want to be able to share later or put on your Instagram account or do whatever. It's, it does make a big difference because you have them to chat with and say are you seeing that? Because you're, it's another set of eyes, isn't it. I was going to talk a little bit about Ninh Binh if you want? [00:12:25] kerry Newsome: Okay. Let's talk about some destinations. Yes. Ninh Binh is beautiful. [00:12:29] Thomas Levine: The biggest problem I had, and it's because I had a problem with my camera, but it made me realize that everybody has this problem if you don't think about it. And it's common sense. But when you get on these tour boats, especially with Tam Coc. They row with their feet, so they have a power to it, and it's right in the beginning when they push, you feel that push. Okay? If you're trying to take a picture and that thing's moving, then you have to have a faster shutter speed, but you also have to be able to time when you have the shutter go off. So the best. It is like a athletic event when somebody's playing tennis and they throw the ball up. You want it where that ball is at the peak and so it's staying in the air before it drops and that's when you want to take a picture. It's the same thing with the rowboat. When they're rowing and you feel that push, get ready to take a picture. Because as soon as he is ready or she is ready to pull the back out of the water, that you have a little pause and that's when you take your picture because it's a lot more stable. And it also comes down too when you go on these boats get in the front if you can. Because that's your best pictures. Okay. There's some yeah, it's, I just, I was thinking about it. It's like I don't think about that stuff because I just do it. But this is travel and not everybody takes pictures like I do. I go crazy with the camera. So you have to be able to. Compensate and you have to be able to come up with a good picture and time it just so it's right. Because if you see somebody in another boat coming towards you, you are moving. They are moving, okay, this comes down to shutter speed. So you want to be able to do it when you're at that pause, but they're still moving. You can't say, Hey, stop your boat. I want to take a picture. That's not going to work. [00:14:35] kerry Newsome: How does, how do you do that on your phone? [00:14:38] Thomas Levine: Most of the time I don't think there's too much of a problem because they're not going that fast. But again, you can get an app that will set the shutter speed for you. You can select a faster shutter speed. Because you want like a, like if you have a regular camera, it's two 50th of a second or if something like that, you want it a little faster and sometimes you don't, maybe you don't want them still. Maybe you want them to show a little motion and not be sharp because that they're moving. It depends on what you want. Okay. So. you have to try it both ways. [00:15:13] Kerry Newsome: And when you've over water, what's your thoughts on reflections? And there's some really great reflective pictures that I've seen also, some you've done. Talk to us a little bit about capturing reflection. [00:15:29] Thomas Levine: Okay I call it highlights because highlights something that's reflective like the water. Your eye is going to go to the white part of the picture, okay? And if you have a highlight and the sun's coming in your eye's going to automatically go to that light, okay? So, highlights are good. But if you have too much highlight, then you're going to have a problem with white going into your lens, and then it'll make it softer picture again, it'll look like you're not focused or something like that. But it's hard to do. Not have a thing to refer it to here. But there's also something called the polarizer. If you have a regular camera and you have, you want to see into the water. If the sun is at a 90 degree angle to the water, you can twist this polarizer and it'll actually take most of the reflection out. So you might turn it dark and into the water, but the thing is, some people turn that thing where it's black. And I like highlights to a certain extent. So I think it's good to have some highlight because it's more natural than if it just goes black and you look into the water. [00:16:44] kerry-newsome_2_02-15-2023_145136: Correct. [00:16:45] Thomas Levine: Because I used to do it the other way too. I used to turn it so far that it would take out all the highlights, but I didn't really understand lighting back then. But you highlighting is a good thing to have in your picture. As long as you control it and it doesn't get into your lens because the light scatters. As soon as the light comes down, if you have a subject, okay, what a colour or a car or something, it's going to either absorb, it's going to absorb light and also reflect light. It depends on whether that's the text, the texture, the colour, that kind of thing. So if you have light coming in to hit that thing, to hit the subject, you are it could really be a great picture or it might not be a good picture. It depends on how you want to show this subject. Is there anything else you want to cover off? For Ninh Binh before we move on to another location. Let me see. Ninh Binh was just a I love Ninh Binh and I would go back in a second if I'm thinking about going back there. But there's a lot of hiking. There's you can take a boat rides into the back country there and there's hiking up that mountain. And you have a great view from up there. It's just a beautiful area and you get up there and you see all the rice patties on one side and the river on the other side. And the rice patties are always interesting to me because you have some of the animals there, their work animals out there. And it just it's an interesting scene. But if you just take a picture of a rice patty, And there's nothing going on. It's boring. You want something going on. And that's why I say with people or animals, that kind of thing. And if they're really way far in the distance, sometimes I don't even take a picture. But it depends. I'm taking a picture for the different reason. If you take some pictures that are boring, that's okay, because this is a memory to you. You're traveling and you want to show what it looks like. It doesn't always have to look like so interested. It doesn't have to, every picture doesn't have to be a great picture. You want some good pictures, but you also want pictures of what it's really okay. That's my view. [00:19:15] Kerry Newsome: I've always felt, the photos that I've taken, that I've loved the most have been when the farmer. Is in the fields. And because it's such backbreaking work that they do, they are bent, over. So sometimes you can get a capture of that. Their process of farming and the hats appearing in the rice patties looking like that. There's not even a body attached to them, that they're just a row of hats because they're bent over. And if you get that contrast right, I've found that interesting and just. It's probably a good segue in to talk about capturing photos with people and maybe speak to us a little bit about getting people's permission, where it's necessary or appropriate and how best to do it versus where it's a little bit freer and easy or, and you can take that. [00:20:21] Thomas Levine: Let me first say that you don't always have to take a picture of the person's face, like you said, if they're working in the field. There's such a thing as body language. Body language is, tells you a lot about what's going on in the scene. Okay? So if they're bent over, they're working okay. That's fine. That's no problem. It's also nice to have a picture of a face. But a lot of these people, they don't like their fixture taken. And a lot of times I'll take a picture, but they won't know it and they'll see me. But when I first starting take to take pictures, I'll actually point the camera in a different direction and I'll keep an eye on what they're doing, and then I might take different pictures, and then one of 'em might be of them that they don't even notice anymore because I'm standing there, I was standing there looking in a different direction. So that's one way. But the view of a lot of people is if they're out in. The open area, it's game is on. You can take a picture. They may not like it. [00:21:22] Kerry Newsome: You can have that option. [00:21:23] Thomas Levine: Yeah. You can have that liberty, but some areas they might have a rule. You can't take pictures, so you have to be careful where you're at. Like in Hoi An, a lot of times they don't like your picture. They don't like it when you, like at the market, they don't like to have their pictures taken. But when I went to some of the other markets and some of the other cities, they loved it. So, it just depends on where you're at. Also like I'll point the camera and they'll see me. And then I'll kinda yes or no, I'm looking at them and they'll tell me whether they want the picture, if it's okay or that, yeah. And sometimes they look at me and then they'll raise their two, two fingers up, that kind of thing.That's okay, but that's what I'm looking for. [00:22:13] Kerry Newsome: But you can do that with sign language. [00:22:15] Thomas Levine: Yeah, then you can point to your camera. You don't have speak [00:22:19] Kerry Newsome: Vietnamese. [00:22:22] Thomas Levine: and I'll point at my lens and they'll say, yeah or no they know what I'm talking about. [00:22:29] kerry-newsome: And I know I've spoken to Etienne Bossot who I think you know, in Hoi An , and he's very much dead against paying people to take their photo. [00:22:38] Thomas Levine: Yeah, I am too. And it gets to be where they pose and I don't really like it when they pose too much. I like to pose them. [00:22:46] Kerry Newsome: No, they think they should. [00:22:48] Thomas Levine: Yeah I want them in their natural. I like casual. You give some great expressions. If they don't know I'm interested in what people are doing. I took a picture of a couple, they didn't know why I was there, and the guy's got his mouth full of food. But he is, and she's enjoying it, and she's looking at him while he is enjoying it. I like something going on in the picture and that's what makes it interesting, yeah, for sure. [00:23:15] Thomas Levine: But yeah, sorry. [00:23:17] Kerry Newsome: Do we want to move on to another place like Dalat. [00:23:21] Thomas Levine: Okay. Dalat is known for, it's very hilly. The architecture is a lot of it's French colonial, so I like to take pictures of some of the buildings and they have that monastery. If you take the cable car. Yeah. And so I took the cable car one time and actually before I took the cable car, they have a overlook. You could take, you could see the whole city. And so you can actually take a landscape picture of the city before you even get on the cable car. And then when you get on the cable car, I like taking pictures through the window. And they have, you can see the treetops, you can see some farming. There's a lot of stuff going on. You could take, I like taking pictures of the cables. Cable cars come in at you because you can take pictures of the people in there and you can see they're looking at you, they're taking pictures or whatever. And then when you get there there's tons of flowers there that you could take pictures of. The monastery Actually I think I went in there, but I didn't take pictures. Maybe they don't allow it. I can't remember. But it's just it's a, it's very interesting. And again, they have markets too in, in Dalat, so they they have the biggest strawberries I've ever seen. [00:24:38] Kerry Newsome: Like they do jams, which is an unusual thing for Vietnam. It's the only place I've actually seen where they preserve the fruits, et cetera, and turn them into these beautiful, tasty jams, but they're. The strawberries were like the size of apples. They were huge and the colour was so rich red getting back to red. But just you, as you say the markets were totally different. And they have another flower called the Everlastings. Did you come across them? [00:25:12] Thomas Levine: I probably did, but I don't know the name. I didn't know the name. [00:25:16] Kerry Newsome: There's actually a flower that never dies. [00:25:18] Thomas Levine: Huh? [00:25:19] Kerry Newsome: And they call them the Everlasting, and they sell them in posies and they can make them ornamental. So even though they're fresh flowers, because they never die, it's freaky. Really freaky. I thought someone was having me on at the time, but then I learned later that it actually is quite true. They call them Everlastings. So, they're these small, very small photos, very small buds. I'll send you a, I'll send you a photo of the ones and you'll go, oh, Kerry, you could have done better if I was there. [00:25:56] Thomas Levine: So as long as I don't have to analyze it, that's fine. [00:25:59] Kerry Newsome: No, don't. No, but they just to prove that they exist. [00:26:03] Thomas Levine: You know what else they have there, which I haven't seen since California is artichokes. They grow artichokes in the lot. They're pricey. But they sure are good. And did you get up into the some of the waterfalls? That's where I had a really interesting experience trying to get that photography right. I have to admit to everyone that I've failed, but those waterfalls are just lovely. The Pongour waterfalls were. [00:26:35] Thomas Levine: And you probably got there during midday, which the light's not the greatest. by the time you travel some of these places, it's not morning anymore. You have to get really early to get some great photos of some areas and people along there traveling, they just don't want to do that, which I don't blame 'em. I had a doctor friend. He was really into photography. He'd go, he'd take this picture and it was okay, and then they'd go back to their hotel and then his wife didn't want to go. He'd get up at four o'clock and he'd go back to the same location and take that picture again. And his pictures were great, but he he went way out of his way to back to the same place to take the picture. And like I said, his wife is not interested in it whatsoever, but he had some really nice. [00:27:21] Kerry Newsome: Yes. [00:27:21] Thomas Levine: going back to a place that possible, but it's it's not convenient. [00:27:27] Kerry Newsome: And interesting do you find in Vietnam with some cities. See, when I think of colour, I think of Dalat and the colour purple. Because around the lake is lots of purple. Do you recall? [00:27:44] Thomas Levine: I recall that, but it's, I guess it's because I've been looking at so much yellow lately. I think of yellow because of the those. [00:27:51] Kerry Newsome: But see, yellow to me is associated with Hoi An because of the, a lot of their buildings and the shop houses, et cetera have got that yellow walls to them and they, it's quite well, known, I think Dalat is purple. I don't know what city would we call as red? Would that be Hanoi? Maybe? [00:28:14] Thomas Levine: Yeah, there's a lot of I just think of red and I see those lanterns which are in Hoi An and I just looked at one, I took a picture of in Hanoi. They're all over the place. They're not as prevalent in Hanoi as they are here in, in Hoi An. It's a photographer's paradise. But you, are right it is colour everywhere. [00:28:38] Thomas Levine: You have the ocean, you have the beach you have the rice fields, which actually make pretty good pictures too. And then of course you have in town and you have some of the popular locations you could get on a boat, you can rent a boat and they could take you on a tour and take pictures. Those are, you can take, get some great pictures that way. And actually I've stood from shore and take pictures of these boats, and they're taking a picture of me at the same time. I'm taking a picture of them, so it's a little strange. [00:29:08] Kerry Newsome: Yeah, and you've got that twilight, haven't you, on the river. [00:29:11] Thomas Levine: Oh yeah. You get some great lighting here and then, and when you're in Old Town and that bridge and the lighting goes down, the light, the sunsets and the light hits it just right. And you got the boats going underneath. They make some great pictures from shore. [00:29:29] Kerry Newsome: And it's happy hour. [00:29:30] Thomas Levine: Yeah. If you're not in the crowd because you're standing on the bank but it does get crowded. [00:29:37] Kerry Newsome: My favorite time of the day. [00:29:37] Thomas Levine: It does get crowded here. But at the same time, you have a lot of areas that are crowded, like I said, the beach and the rice fields. Because if you want to take a walk or you want to take a bike ride, rice fields are great for that. [00:29:50] Kerry Newsome: So we've covered a little bit on Ninh Binh , a little bit on Dalat do you want to speak to everyone about Hanoi? What would you be looking for in Hanoi? [00:30:01] Thomas Levine: Hanoi street photography people there's just these street vendors with flowers. They're sending fruit. They have their bicycles loaded down with, there's one, there's a guy, he has conical hats. He has all kinds of hats, and he carries that on a bicycle and watch it around. So you could stand on the sidewalk and just pick a place that's busy and you can take pictures of people going by. And that's my, one of my favorite things to do. But like we, we were talking about space. If you're looking down the street and you have tons of traffic where it's just traffic all the way across your front, okay. There's not too much of a picture there sometimes, unless you, unless it's for colour or something like that, but you, it's too busy. You know what I mean? So one of my favorite pictures is, Looking down in the middle of the street. Okay. So if it opens up, which it will open up, you could see down into the middle and you can see some stuff going on down the street and then you have people on the right and people on the left on their motorbikes. And it makes an interesting picture. And I've got a guy that's carrying some piece of glass or something at least way down in the middle. You want to it takes your eye automatically. It's a line. It's ev even though it's not a line, it's a line because you have people on the right, people on the left. It's a border. It's a frame that you're going down the middle and in the middle if you got something else going on in there, you want somebody to look inside your picture because that's where the stuff's going on. But you can't you got to have an avenue, you got to have an alley for your eye to go into. I mostly take the lake. It is so pretty. [00:31:52] Thomas Levine: Yeah, there's flowers around the lake. Sometimes I'll take, I, I took a picture of some flowers and then I thought these are nice flowers. And then I actually moved the camera. When I took the next picture so that the flowers are blurry, so it looks like they're blowing in the wind. You have to experiment to, to get it right. But it's a beautiful lake and they have that circle with people. You, if you want to take portraits, you can put people around that circle with the fountain. I think it's a fountain. And that's a nice picture. [00:32:26] Kerry Newsome: And you’ve got the red bridge. [00:32:27] Thomas Levine: Yeah. When I was there, they were painting it unfortunately. But yeah, the red bridge really sticks out. It's great. [00:32:34] Kerry Newsome: It's iconic. Yeah, absolutely. Is there another city you'd like to talk about? [00:32:40] Thomas Levine: I, went down to the Mekong that's an interesting, and when you go onto the floating markets, that's an interesting picture. You get four in the morning and you get the sun coming up. Now I had the sun in my lens a lot of times, so a lot of pictures just didn't come out that great because it was just a really bright sun. And I could, and I was in a boat so I couldn't like, say go, I was at a tour so I couldn't say go left or go right. But if you get your own boat and you hire a tour person and you don't have any other passengers, they'll take you wherever you want to go. But get people working. It's interesting because they have these big boats and they're full of fruit and you got other people buying their fruit on their boats and they stick these poles up in the air with whatever fruit they're selling it. I took a picture of the person that was operating my boat, she saw I was taking a picture. So what does she do? She poses for the camera. I didn't really want that, so I took a few like that and then I had to wait until she was actually busy and then I took the picture and that's the picture that I liked because it was casual. She was busy. That's she was doing her job and that's what I liked. But she was posing as soon as she knew I was taking the picture right before that, she posed for it. Maybe you want that. Some I like having some of those too. It's good to have different stuff because when you're showing different people or you're showing the one person, all these different pictures, you don't want your stuff boring, like I said. Yeah. If you have somebody standing right smack in the middle of a frame on every picture, it's boring. So you want to Have them show like you, they're the guide and they're showing you the area. They could have their arms out, they could have the statue and leading on the statue. There's all sorts of things you could do when you have a travel buddy. So that makes it fun that's really what the name of the game traveling, is having fun. [00:34:37] Kerry Newsome: Absolutely. Yeah. And capturing as many great memories as you possibly can. You're not always going to get the perfect circumstance, but certainly I think photography plays such a big role in preserving those memories for people long beyond and trying to explain it to other people. When you get home, I know when I get home and I say, oh, I went to such and such, and. I'll show people women dressed in their Ao Dai's or the schoolgirls riding their bicycles home from school, and they're all dressed in white Ao Dai's because that's what they wear to school. People can't believe that in this day and age that you know. The Vietnamese as a whole, very strong sentimentality, I guess towards their traditions, which I think is fabulous. And wear their Ao Dai's with pride and it's not staged. It's not just for tourism. [00:35:37] Thomas Levine: Part of the culture. [00:35:44] Thomas Levine: For instance, when I was sitting I was having dinner with my friend and we were inside and we were talking about some old times and he broke out in laughter what we were talking about, and that's when I took the picture and he had lost it he just he was laughing so hard. [00:36:03] Kerry Newsome: I love it. [00:36:04] Thomas Levine: The picture and it was like preserved, it's perfect. That's what you want to do. [00:36:09] Kerry Newsome: Because you never get that time back again. That's why I stress over taking good pictures. [00:36:13] Thomas Levine: Exactly. Yeah, it's just you're taking a snapshot in time. Although I don't like the word snapshot, but you're really making pictures when you take time to take a picture and you're trying to line things up. You're thinking about it. You're making a picture. Not just taking a picture. [00:36:28] Kerry Newsome: Yes. And that's where the art comes into [00:36:31] Thomas Levine: And the more you know about it the better. Sometimes if you don't know about it too just. I think a lot of it's aesthetic, but there are principles and there's like rules of photography. But my biggest thing is it's okay to break the rules because there's really no rule. It's you can make up your own rules if you want. Now whether somebody else likes it or not, it's the next question, but if you like it Yeah, and purpose is important. Is it for you or is it for other people, or do you want to sell it? [00:37:04] Kerry Newsome: it it's all those different kind of purposes. What is your purpose? If it's for your own memory? You can take it any which way. [00:37:12] Thomas Levine: As far as travel I, when I talk about travel, it's usually because they've just taken it for themselves or show their friends. [00:37:20] Kerry Newsome: Okay, Thomas is there some information that you can leave with us so everyone can contact you maybe to get some lessons from you or things like that? [00:37:34] thomas_2_02-15-2023_105136: I'm almost done and I'm working on an e-book. On travel photography, but it's tips. And I go through line and I go through colour. I don't go through all the elements of art. I just want to give somebody a basic thing. They could go out and improve their photography because that's the whole thing. But if you make it too technical, yeah, I talked about art more than the technical side. I want to make it easy. Okay. And the technical side, operation of your camera, there's all sorts of stuff on the internet on that. So, you should learn how to use your camera and if you have the smartphone, if you want to take more creative pictures, you should look into the apps that they have for controlling shutters, speed and aperture. And they have other apps too. And you could do slow motion. There’re all sorts of stuff. So yeah. [00:38:28] Kerry Newsome: Okay, Thomas, thanks very much for being on the show. [00:38:32] Thomas Levine: Thank you very much, Kerry. I appreciate the interview.

  • Episode 24, How to capture beautiful photos - Part 2

    How to capture beautiful photos - Part 2 Episode 24 S4-24 Take beautiful photos Part 2 00:00 / 39:16 In Part 2 we continue our journey in the pursuit of the best pics of Vietnam with Thomas Levine as my guest: - Are you taking notes? You don’t need to. Just go to the Transcript for the episode on the website on this page. Part 1 and Part 2. Meet once again our extraordinary photographer, and guest Thomas Levine whose talents and experiences have taken him on an incredible journey around the world! To his credit, Thomas’s travels have resulted in an extensive archive of photographs from many countries and more recently Vietnam, showcasing the rich tapestry of the continent. His images can literally transport viewers to awe-inspiring landscapes, bustling city streets, and intimate cultural moments, inviting you to experience the world through his lens. In this show Thomas expands on his photography tips:- How do we take photographs of some of the local people in Vietnam streets and regional locations? When taking pictures of people, Levine advises to look for expressions that show emotion, such as a person enjoying their food. He also suggests taking pictures of people in the background, so they don't know they are being photographed. When taking pictures in different locations, it is important to be aware of the local customs and rules. In some places, it is not acceptable to take pictures, while in others, it is encouraged. By understanding the local customs and rules, as well as looking for body language and expressions, your pictures can create stunning story telling. Learn how to bring the best memories home with you by capturing alluring pics of Vietnam like a real professional. Thomas is working on an e-book on travel photography. Links to his website below. Skype: thomas.levine888 You will love learning Thomas’s handy tips applicable for any trip you have planned. Stay tuned for Part 3 of the series, where Kerry will talk to new guest about drone photography - Don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review the podcast for more fun adventures in Vietnam. Download Transcript PDF Read the transcript here

  • What About Vietnam | Travel Podcasts | Series 4

    S4-24 Take beautiful photos Part 2 Episode 24 Mastering photography in Vietnam - Part 2 Go to Episode S4-20 Life changer for singer songwiter Episode 20 Hoi An – A life changer for a singer songwriter Go to Episode S4-16 Mystical Ninh Binh Episode 16 Mountainous peaks and a labrynth of waterways Go to Episode S4-12 Contemporary Art in Vietnam Episode 12 Contemporary art is shining fresh eyes on Vietnam. Go to Episode S4-08 Travel Addict podswap Episode 8 Travel Addict Show (podswap) talking Vietnam with Kerry Newsome Go to Episode S4-04 Vietnam Wedding Planning Episode 4 When planning a wedding there are so many factors... Go to Episode S4-23 Take beautiful photos Part 1 Episode 23 Mastering photography in Vietnam - Part 1 Go to Episode S4-19 Vietnam wins the heart of the daring Episode 19 A country to feel safe in while pushing boundaries Go to Episode S4-15 Travelling as a solo woman Episode 15 A favourite destination amongst female travellers Go to Episode S4-11 Revisiting Vietnam Episode 11 It's my turn to to revisit Vietnam and check it out Go to Episode S4-07 Hue the city Past Present Future Episode 7 Boasting a patchwork of imperialism and French colonialism Go to Episode S4-03 Travel Outlook 2022-23 Episode 3 I am the guest here talking about Vietnam travel Go to Episode S4-22 Trekking in Sapa A wide lens view Episode 22 The cultural component of trekking in Sapa Go to Episode S4-18 Luxury Brand Travel Experiences Episode 18 Luxury brand travel experiences in Vietnam Go to Episode S4-14 Con Dao Islands Eprisode 14 An archipelago of pristine beauty and complexity Go to Episode S4-10 Hanoi A Foodies Paradise P2 Episode 10 Northern Vietnam cuisine diversity and charm Go to Episode S4-06 Craft beers in Vietnam Episode 6 The “biggest” best leaked Vietnam travel secrets Go to Episode S4-02 Fine Dining Vietnam Episode 2 Vietnam is legendary for its street food and chefs Go to Episode S4-21 Beyond the Phong Nha caves Episode 21 There is more to Phong Nha than just the caves Go to Episode S4-17 Vietnam Traveller Insights 2022 Episode 17 The best Vietnam traveller insights from 2022 Go to Episode S4-13 Citizen 44 podswap Episode 13 A feeling of an injection of colour into my soul Go to Episode S4-09 Hanoi A Foodies Paradise P1 Episode 9 What is truly distinct about Northern Vietnam cuisine Go to Episode S4-05 Nha Trang 10 best things Episode 5 10 best things about Nha Trang you may not know Go to Episode S4-01 Art in Vietnam Episode 1 The artist’s true technique of storytelling Go to Episode

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Blog Posts (27)

  • A monthly travel guide to your best experiences in Vietnam

    To travel, to experience and learn: that is to live.” – Tenzing Norgay One of the most asked questions I get from travellers is - When is the best time to visit Vietnam.? The answer isn't a simple one. Vietnam being a long skinny country with a shoreline of 3,200Kms, weather can vary significantly from North to South. I hope you will find this guide useful in your trip planning. January: January is the ideal time to consider cooler weather pursuits in Vietnam. In the northern region, particularly the famous Sapa town, located in Lao Cai province. Sapa is known for its stunning rice terraces, which are at their most beautiful during the winter months. The weather is chilly, making it perfect for trekking and exploring the local hill tribes. If you head to these locations make sure you are rugged up as it can snow in Sapa and roads can be drizzly. It is advisable to get some advice on best things to do prior to booking for this area. The south is your best bet for warmer weather but it too can have more frequent wet days but much warmer than the north and still with medium to high levels of humidity.I know from experience visiting another northern area called Ba be Lake, it was freezing cold. However, with puffer jackets and warm under clothing it meant we had the pristine lake and the caves to ourselves, and the beautiful cherry blossoms were just starting to break through. Less tourists and more chance for local interaction. February: February is a good time to visit Vietnam's central region. I mention this as somewhere between late January and mid February Vietnamese celebrate TET. This is a celebration that is waited for all year. You will find the ancient city of Hoi An becomes a sea of colour with flowers and fruit tree sellers lining the streets in the lead up. Combine that with the colourful lanterns and it’s a joyous time to be there. The weather is mild making it perfect for exploring the city's historic sites, such as the Old Town, the Japanese Covered Bridge, and the Hoi An Museum of History and Culture. The city is also known for its beautiful beaches, which as the month ages are warming up for swimming. Earlier in the month it may still be long sleeve weather and not warm enough to make the dive into the ocean or pool. But a week later this can change. You just never know in Vietnam. Kerry in February in Ba be lake - Vietnam March: March is the ideal time to visit Vietnam's central and southern regions, and further afield, the famous Mekong Delta. The weather is warm and humid, making it perfect for exploring the region's famous floating markets, such as Cai Rang and Phong Dien. The region is also known for its beautiful landscapes, including rice paddies and coconut groves. Hoi An is especially nice in the central region, and one of my favourite times of the year for mooching through the old town and finding new hidden gems in the alleys. Drinking coffee, people watching, sipping a cocktail at Happy Hour and chatting with locals. Basing yourself in Hoi An is a good plan as from here there are many activities and day trips to enjoy, that still mean you are back in time for twilight by the Thu Bon river. Photo Credit - Thomas Levine Photography - Photo Hoi An - March April: April is a great time to visit Vietnam's central highlands, particularly the city of Dalat. The weather is cool and dry, making it perfect for exploring the city's many waterfalls, such as Pongour ( a beautiful waterfall you can reach so close your hands can touch the falls) and Datanla. The city is also known for its beautiful gardens and flower farms, such as the Valley of Love and the Dalat Flower Garden. A quaint and particularly European style city you will see and feel an atmosphere of fresh flowers, fruits and rolling hills. This is also an opportune time to head to Phong Nha and go caving, motorbike riding through the hills, trekking and soaking up the small town community of Phong Nha with locals.If you would like to know more about visiting Phong Nha I suggest you contact Phong Nha Farmstay and visit the podcast I did with Ben Mitchell a great Aussie bloke who has been living there for many years now and will give you the local knowledge you need. May: May is a great time to visit Vietnam's northern region, particularly the famous Ha Long Bay. The weather is warm and humid, making it perfect for exploring the bay's many limestone islands and caves. The bay is also known for its small beaches and opportunities for swimming and sunbathing. Lan Ha Bay and Halong Bay are a must if you visit Vietnam around this time. The limestone mountains jutting from the mesmeric coloured water will be a lifelong memory not just stored on your phone camera. The central and south are hot and very popular for those wanting to soak up the sun at any famous beach cities like Danang, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc Island and Mui Ne. March to May are ideal for other places in the north like Ha Giang. June: June is a great time to visit Vietnam's central region, particularly the city of Hue. The weather is HOT and humid, making it perfect for exploring the city's many historic sites. It is the hottest time of the year so be prepared with lighter clothing and sunscreen. This month really makes it safe to head to most places along the 3,200 shoreline as long as you like it VERY hot during the day with the odd downpour. July: July is a great time to visit Vietnam's southern region, particularly the city of Nha Trang. The weather is warm and humid, making it perfect for swimming and sunbathing at the city's many beaches. Nha Trang is also known for its many water activities, such as snorkelling and scuba diving, and its famous cable car ride to Vinpearl Island featuring a veritable Disneyland of experiences for kids. Across most of Vietnam it is HOT, so if that’s how you like it, then it’s your time. August: August is a great time to visit Vietnam's northern region, particularly the city of Hanoi. The weather is hot and humid, making it perfect for exploring the city's many historic sites, such as the Old Quarter, the Temple of Literature, and Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum. The city is also known for its delicious street food, which can be enjoyed at the many night markets. Early morning by the lake is delightful as the air is at its coolest, and you will see people dancing, exercising, running, and doing Tai Chi. Further in the north the weather is conducive to explore the mountainous regions due to panoramic views of the rice fields, but if it rains in places like Ha Giang it can be wonderful one minute, but drizzly and wet and slippery the other. August and September are recommended as good times to go, but please see note below for further information. Photo credit Jack Taylor - Ninh Binh Episode - September: September is my favourite overall Vietnam time of year to visit most places in Vietnam. I call it a “safe bet! It’s a great time to visit Vietnam's central region, particularly the city of Da Nang and Hoi An. The weather is warm and mostly dry, making it perfect for exploring the city's many historic sites, such as the Marble Mountains and the My Son World cultural heritage Temples. The city is also known for its beautiful beaches, such as My Khe Beach, and its many water activities, such as jet skiing and parasailing. Further afield Hoi An has An Bang beach and because the weather is a little milder it makes you feel like getting out more during the day. The nights are delightful and it’s a fun thing to do, to go strolling along the beach alleys to find the best local bars to listen to music and eat the local catch from the day. October: Is a great month for the south. The rainy weather is starting to dominate in the central and northern region, which can ruin any type of fun adventure. Or if you love the rain like I do, it can make it a whole lot more fun. Important to note: It is Typhoon season and sometimes the power of these can be highly destructive and can definitely ruin any holiday and although the locals are used to them, they take them seriously and buckle down. I have stayed in the central region in October before and had no issues, but weather is becoming more and more unpredictable. November: November is not a great time to visit Vietnam's central region, as it becomes very dull and rainy. Hoi An has been known to flood many times. However, it can be a good time to visit the city of Hue. The weather is cooler and it can make for the perfect time for exploring the city's many historic sites, such as the Imperial City and the Hue Royal Palace. The city is also known for its beautiful landscapes, such as the Perfume River and the surrounding countryside, which are perfect for cycling or motorbike tours.It may be the perfect time to visit a wellbeing retreat close to hue called Alba Wellness Retreat and Spa. I can vouch for a visit as the experiences are NOT weather dependent and you will walk away after the Yoga, massages, Onsen and meditation feeling like a new person. Check out our special offer here and the podcast I did with the GM Hylton Lipkin here. The north is becoming a lot cooler, verging on cold. However, that just means you can choose to do more indoor activities, like shopping, visiting museums, dining out and for those adventurers on good days, it makes for a good time to visit areas like Ninh Binh. December: December is the time of year where you can expect people "rugging" up in the north! It can make a nice time to visit Vietnam's northern region, particularly the city of Hanoi. The weather is cold, making it perfect for daytime pursuits such as exploring the city's many historic sites, such as the Old Quarter, the Temple of Literature, and Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum. The city is also known for its delicious street food, which can be enjoyed at the many night markets. It's also a perfect time to attend the famous Hanoi's New Year Countdown at Hoan Kiem lake. Further north it is getting super cold, so unless that is what you want to experience I would suggest avoiding, till it warms up. It can snow in Sapa at this time, but not enough to ski and very drizzly. The south will offer you more options as it is warmer, but generally it can be wet. The city has a vibrancy and you will soon find out that rain doesn’t deter the Vietnamese from doing too much. So don’t let it stop you either! Off the beaten track For those harder to get places in the north like Mai Chau, Ha Giang, Mu Cang Chai, Ban Goc Waterfalls etc, locals say the best time is around March to May or September and October. These regions take over 6 – 8 hours to reach by bus, or car from Hanoi, and once you arrive in the region of Ha Giang for example, it takes at least 4 days to do the whole loop. Meaning you are driving 8-9 hours per day. For trip planning in these areas I urge you do lots of homework to curate the kind of experience you want to have there. You can’t really expect a Travel Agent in your own country to understand or appreciate the nuances of weather in these regions, unless they specialise in Vietnam travel. The images you see on social pages are on all the perfect days. No one is posting on Instagram the days when the roads are so misty you cannot see 50 yds in front of you, or the roads are choked with traffic. They say to have these amazing experiences you have to have time, patience and pick the right operators to do them with. Suggestions for respected operators in Sapa and close regions - - Please check out the Episode I did with Phil Hoolihan talking about Sapa and how managing expectations for tours in these regions is important. You can go here to listen. For regions like Ha Giang I got to interview Tom Stone and he likewise knows the area well and his team can offer up some local knowledge to help you plan the kind of experience you want. His team’s best contact is through facebook here The interview and transcript I did is here. Disclaimer: It has to be said that with global warming the weather is becoming harder and harder to predict. Please use this article as a guide only. What was once is no longer something you can set your calender to. The suggestions made in this article are from personal experience and talking with locals in the regions and cities suggested to visit, but it is by no means going to be perfect. TIP for travellers: Facebook is a great tool for communication with operators in Vietnam. If you have plans that could be affected negatively by weather, I strongly suggest you check in with the operator via their Facebook page or reach out to a Travel group, or venue in the region as they will give you the most up to date information at the time. Written by – Kerry Newsome 2023 “To travel, to experience and learn: that is to live.” – Tenzing Norgay

  • 10 Festivals in Vietnam travellers should know about

    Of course, TET is the most important festival of the year in Vietnam, and because of that you must see our separate BLOG HERE with everything you should know about TET as a traveler. However, there are 9 other festivals that can affect travellers during the year in Vietnam, totally separate from the universal ones related to westerners as in Christmas, New Years and Thanksgiving. 1. Lim Festival So much of the traditional Vietnamese festivals is taken up with its costumes and pageantry. The Lim festival is one of those special ones that includes lots of traditional fair activities in the beautiful setting in the Lim Village. The Lim Festival opens annually on around 12th - 13th day of the first lunar month in the year, February 3, 2023. The festival allows travelers to enjoy the UNESCO-listed Quan Ho folk singing and a variety of traditional games. You’ll see locals performing in traditional costumes and it gives amazing insight into the traditions of Vietnam. The Lim Festival is celebrated in Lim Village which is located in the Bac Ninh Province of Vietnam. The village is only about 11 miles (18 KM) from Hanoi, which you can easily get to by bus or your own rental car. So much of the traditional Vietnamese festivals is taken up with its costumes and pageantry. The Lim festival is one of those special ones that includes lots of traditional fair activities in the beautiful setting in the Lim Village. Photo credit for Lim Festival - 2. Perfume Pagoda Festival The Perfume Pagoda Festival is Vietnam's famous Buddist pilgrimage site. Held February 5, 2023, this festival welcomes thousands of pilgrims who pray when they arrive at the sacred cave. They pray for a happy and prosperous new year. It takes place in Hanoi at the Perfume Pagoda. During the festival, pilgrims first board boats that pass a beautiful landscape of rice paddies and limestone mountains before going by foot past picturesque historical shrines and up hundreds of stone steps. Photo credit and further information - 3. Phu Giay Festival From April 22-27, 2023 in the Nam Dinh Province, the Phu Giay Festival takes place. This festival is a tribute to Lieu Hanh, one of the Vietnamese " 4 immortal gods." Interestingly, Lieu Hanh is the only of the four immortal gods that’s based on a real person. The festival takes place around 55 miles from Hanoi, when the Vietnamese make a pilgrimage to the Phu Giay Temple. The festival offers traditional diversions such as cock-fighting, ​keo chu, and folk singing. During the festival, many pray for good fortune as they carry decorated bamboo relics while wearing traditional costumes. Further reading - 4. Hung King Temple Festival The Hung King Temple Festival takes place on April 29, 2023 and celebrated the birth of Vietnam’s first kings: the Hung Vuong. Hung Vuong became king in 2879 BC, and the story has been embellished over the years. To remember the King and his many sons, people gather at the Hung Temple, located near Việt Trì in Phu Tho province, about 50 miles (80 KM) from Hanoi. Travelers will get to witness hundreds of lanterns being released into the sky the night before the festival. The next morning a beautiful flower ceremony is held, followed by a large processional that begins at the foot of a mountain and ends at the main Hung Temple. Photo credit - 5. Hue Festival The Hue Festival of 2023 is to span the entire year! With continuous activities through the entire year, the Hue Festival begins with an opening program known as the Ban Soc ceremony in January, and ending with a Countdown Show on December 31, 2023. The festival is Biennial, meaning it happens once every 2 years. The festival features theater, dance, music, and acrobatics that are performed in different places around the city, although most of the activities are conducted around the grounds of the Hue Citadel. Have a listen to Hue The City - Past, Present and Future for more information about Hue. 6. Reunification Day Celebrated on April 30th, Reunification Day was celebrated when South Vietnam was freed from U.S Troops. This was the day that South Vietnam joined North Vietnam under one government. The people of Vietnam celebrate their Reunification date each year on this date. The day is celebrated throughout Vietnam, but travelers should head to larger cities such as Hoi An or HCMC to take part. There is an amazing parade in Hanoi as well as fireworks displays in Danang. HCMC in particular goes crazy late into the evening and lots of events will be held, so make sure you check these out, and where these are held as traffic is beyond description. Find more detail about this very special day here - 7. Buddha’s Birthday Also known as Vasek, Buddha’s Birthday is celebrated each year by the Vietnamese. Celebrated on May 26, 2023, temples are adorned with lavish decorations to celebrate the birth of Buddha. Locals often offer fruit, flower garlands, and traditional Vietnamese dishes. Hoi An is one of the best places to celebrate Buddha’s Birthday, which is held at the Phap Bao Pagoda. Locals then head to the temple to perform religious rites, and listen to the Buddha’s scriptures. During the festival animals are released while flower garlands and lanterns are often placed on river banks. 8. Independence Day Vietnam's Independence Day is celebrated on September 2 every year. This euphoric celebration celebrates the independence of Vietnam in a grand way. This is a public holiday in Vietnam, meaning many things will be closed in smaller towns. Independence Day is celebrated throughout Vietnam, but as a traveler it is best to go to Hanoi or HCMC to celebrate. In HCMC where I was staying at the time of these celebrations the atmosphere was electric. There are many events in the main cities, but more so in HCMC. Beware of traffic if you have to get to the airport as it is crazier than usual and many roads get closed off. For further reading and photo credit - 9. Mid Autumn Festival Celebrated on September 14-15, the Mid Autumn Festival features a wide range of activities for all. You’ll see paper lanterns, lion dancing, and food booths that sell a variety of Vietnamese treats. Otherwise known as the Harvest Festival, households often display offerings in honor of the full moon. Hoi An is a great place to celebrate the Mid Autumn Festival. As a traveler you will see plenty of street performances, a beautiful lantern processional, and exhibits throughout the town. This one is a special one and many travellers base their trip around as they want to be part of the pageantry. It is always noisy, fun, colourful and the vibe is always around fun and mainly focused on children, so families, I suggest it would be. areal treat for kids. Find more detail here - It’s a good idea to keep these festivals in mind when planning your trip to Vietnam. Travellers can certainly get a better glimpse into Vietnamese culture by taking part in them, but sometimes its best to avoid them or plan around them as with nearly 100 million people, things can get congested and make travel plans difficult if you haven'tt planned for them. Happy travels. Kerry Newsome

  • TET 2023 - Tips for travellers

    TET is closer than you think! In fact it's just around the corner. It's coming early in 2023 and as a traveller there's a few things you should know about it. TET falls on January 22, 2023. This is a 6 day public holiday in Vietnam, it begins on January 21 (classified as TET NYE) and runs through January 26. It's the longest and most celebrated holiday in the Vietnam calendar. It can in some cases last up to 10 days as many places allow their staff to take extra leave time to be with family who often may live in remote towns. The Vietnamese New Year is by far the most important festival of the year. It is a celebration of the upcoming Spring, love, and hope for the year to come. The Lunar Year of 2023 is the Vietnamese year of the Cat that symbolizes tenderness, gentleness, and kindness. Overall, it is considered that Hanoi is the one of the best places to celebrate TET as a traveler. Both the Quan Su Pagoda and the Ngoc Son Temple offer the opportunity to see locals lighting incense and praying for ancestors. Travelers will also love seeing the elaborate fireworks displays and the vibrant parties thrown by the Hanoi Opera House. Flowers, small envelopes of money and personal gift giving is an integral part of the TET celebration. Due to the fact that TET is a public holiday, it will affect those traveling in Vietnam as many shops, government offices, and banks close. However, if you want to experience the Vietnamese culture, you may want to consider scheduling your trip around the Vietnamese New Year. The holiday is all about family and travellers shouldn’t expect a large party. It is a fascinating time to visit the country. It's a time where you’ll find elaborate fireworks celebrations, a time for visiting temples, and to take in beautiful flower arrangements. While TET is celebrated throughout the entire country, travellers should try to stay in a larger city. In smaller towns everything tends to shut down during the Vietnamese New Year. Everything either happens before TET or after, but not much during. By that, it’s meant to be a time of relaxation, eating and drinking foods prepared by family members. The cooking preparation starts well before the beginning of TET and everyone including the youngest in the family get involved. You can expect to see a lot of cleaning, refurbishing and redecorating. This tends to start prior to TET as people believe the way they finish the previous year will influence the way the next year will run for them. As you walk around the towns you can see shops, homes and streets being cleared away of junk and spaces cleared to make room for flowers and altars. It’s an extremely colourful time of the year as the streets become filled with flowers, colourful fish tanks, and money trees. 6 tips for Travellers in Vietnam during TET 1. Buy your travel tickets for travel during the TET season well in advance or miss out. 2. Be early at the airport, bus station or train as this is the busiest travel period for Vietnamese who travel long distances to visit family and friends and carry lots of luggage. 3. Make sure you bring all your travel documents confirming all your travel arrangements, tickets, and emergency contact details. Check the latest Covid tests required to be completed before flying. 4. Don’t expect to do too much activity wise on the actual National Holidays as many tourist attractions will be closed or at a minimum their hours will be reduced, and they may even charge an extra TAX. Be prepared to just chill out! 5. Check with your hotel or Homestay about what services will be operating for meals and what are the closest alternative eateries open. 6. Check Facebook pages of places of interest, events, hotels and restaurants for most up to date details of their operation over TET, this is usually where they will announce their opening times. TET is really a celebration of family and friendship and many people will travel all over to catch up with friends they have not seen in a long time and exchange gifts. It is also the time of year when companies bestow gifts or bonuses to employees, so it's a joyous time for locals. It's not really about us tourists, so if you feel a little left out or disappointed in services not being at their optimal levels, then its probably a time of year to NOT visit Vietnam. However if you can appreciate it for what it means to the Vietnamese, you will get to know their culture even more so, and if you make a friend in Vietnam, you may be asked to their home to share a meal after New Years day. This is considered an honour so think yourself a new family friend. Final Note: There are those families who treat all the traditions with great reverence and if you think the family you know may do this, then so as to not offend and pay respects, I would recommend doing some deeper research starting HERE

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