I didn't need to look at the weather forecast when I arrived in Hanoi. The clouds were orators, speaking with purpose. Riding into the city, I was certain that I would spend much of my four day Vietnamese getaway indoors. Eighty percent... Ninety percent... A hundred percent bet that I was going to be snuggled up reading a Murakami novel and wishing that I was at home instead of a hotel room. At least that was what the realist in me muttered through the half cracked taxi window on the way to Hanoi's Old Quarter.
I hadn't come to Hanoi to work on some grandiose, longterm project. I was not on assignment for any magazine. There was nothing in particular that I was curious to shoot. I had come to Vietnam for two very simple missions. First, I wanted some "me time." Secondly, I wanted to take some damn photographs. I was determined to complete both objectives. At least that was what the optimist in me boasted as I chucked my bags on the hotel bed and opened the room's minibar.
I quickly downed an airplane bottle of Jack Daniels. The whisky I had just consumed would be, for most, a celebratory gesture. At that point, I had done absolutely nothing worth celebrating (other than surviving another plane flight). Realizing this, I stood up, grabbed my gear and headed right back out the door.
For the next several days, I forced myself into the constant drizzle (and occasional downpour). No poncho. No umbrella. Just my camera bag, water bottle and positive attitude. When the rain forced me out of the streets, I ate. When it let up, I pulled out the camera and got to work. Four days and roughly three thousand snaps later, I was headed back to the airport glad that the realist in me was wrong.