Northern Vietnam is unlike any place I have been. We take a quick flight from Hong Kong in the middle of the day on a Wednesday. Descending into Hanoi, we float through a dense fog for what feels like forever. Anxious, as always, to get an aerial view, I am disappointed. Thirty seconds before landing, a runway appears in what looks like the middle of a jungle. The entire city is wrapped in this dense fog and clouds, not a sliver of blue sky in sight. Instantly, it feels exactly how I thought it would. Eerily quiet, somewhat depressing, and foreign.
“You’re going where? For how long?” This was the reaction from most of our friends and family when we decided to backpack through Southeast Asia. And although there are heavily trafficked backpacking circuits in this region, I hadn’t read much about anyone staying in Hanoi, uninterrupted, for a month. But we were determined to travel on a budget, so we rented an apartment on the outskirts of town in the hopes of finding insanely good Pho and making some local friends. These photographs serve as a diary of sorts from that month we’ll never forget.