Photo du Jour: Nap Time in Saigon

Despite the sound of thousands of whizzing motorbikes, a man in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam managed to catch some zzzzs in an ergonomically challenging position.

When I snapped this shot, a diner looking out from the neighboring restaurant window flashed me a wide grin. He signaled his approval of this captured moment with a hearty thumbs-up.

Where in the World?

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All rights reserved.

Published by Tricia A. Mitchell

Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene. A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.

20 thoughts on “Photo du Jour: Nap Time in Saigon

  1. Great shot, I fell asleep on a motorbike once, trouble was I was riding it at the time, 4 broken bones later I woke up.

    1. Oh my, Mark, that must have been terrifying! Where did it happen?

      I’ve only ridden on a motorbike/motorcycle a few times but I have to say that I was so nervous zipping through the streets of Jaipur, India and Hanoi, Vietnam, that I don’t think there’s any way I could’ve fallen into a slumber.

      1. It was many years ago in NZ, when I was young and silly, now I’m just silly.

  2. When i think in retrospect, it would have been great to have a photo of the sleeper and his friend in the window with the thumbs up. That! would have been a shot. Once upon a time I shot [photo] a moose. Behind the moose from my vantage was a really foolish amateur with a puny point and shot, wearing a big dumb grin, and edging down the hillside to get a closer shot of the moose. To startle an animal that large is dangerous. That’s the shot! And in my concentration, I just wanted a focused shot of the moose. In my memory that is the shot that got away.

    1. Victor, the thumbs up would’ve been a great addition! I wimped out, though, as I was initially uncertain if the man peeping onto the street would disapprove of me snapping the dozing man. :)

      Your moose encounter sounds intimidating for sure! (It reminds me of a time I was hiking solo, deep in the forest, when a mama wild boar crossed my path with her babies in tow! I didn’t have a camera along at the time.)

      Perhaps the lesson is to snap the gifts that serendipity gives us, even if the images are a bit different than we’d planned.

  3. Love this candid camera moment. Very well taken too – not just a snap. Street photography is such a very difficult genre. I think you are a natural.

    1. I’m flattered – thank you, Rachael!

      The part I find most difficult about street photography is being discrete – particularly in foreign cultures. Asking for permission first usually yields good results and it’s a fun ice-breaker too.

  4. so happy you like and visit my country (as well as my city ^ – ^ ). Taking a drive from these men and their motorbikes is much more interesting and cheaper than taking a taxi – we call them “xe ôm” – Many of them have to work very far from home – no place to rest ,the only friend – the only thing that can rely on are their motorbikes , I really think that when they taking nap on their own motorbikes – they are temporary home ^ – ^

    1. Hello again, Yinyin, and Cám ơn for your insightful comment about the xe ôm drivers in Ho Chi Minh City! It sounds as though they are certainly hard workers. I am still amazed that the drivers are able to balance and sleep on their motorbikes!

      On a side note, we felt very adventurous whenever we crossed the very busy intersections of HCM and Hanoi! Are you preparing for the Tet holidays yet?

      1. ^ – ^ haha your Vietnamese is so great ! There are many things that you may “have to” be good at when life force you to , I think !

        > v < "we felt very adventurous whenever we crossed the very busy intersections of HCM and Hanoi!" Oh, I feel a little bit ashamed hearing this ,so sorry if the traffic caused you any inconvenience or discomfort :( the speed of life here is "a little bit" hurry, but we don't want or mean to scare anyone, is just a kind of living habit, even I myself sometimes can't stand of being stuck in cars and motorbikes, but if I stay in another peaceful town for several days , I will miss those noise – I know I will ^ – ^

        wow ! you do love our country, don't you ^ – ^ yup , we are preparing for the Tet holidays, because of the leap year , Tet will be "delayed" until February, I will send you a happy Tet holidays message then ^ – ^

      2. Yinyin,

        Yes – it is true that when people travel to other countries, they should try to learn a bit of another language! Learning a few words of a new language makes the travel experience in that country much richer. My Vietnamese vocabulary is very limited, but your English is quite good. For how long have you studied, and where did you learn to write in English so well?

        The traffic in HCMC didn’t cause us any discomfort, but it was challenging at times. :-) In the largest American cities, you would find a similar ‘hustle and bustle’ that you described, with people in a hurry. We don’t have so many motorbikes, though! Will you learn to drive a motorbike, or have you already done so?

        I shall look forward to reading your Tet holiday message. When we were in Vietnam last January, we just missed the Tet celebrations. Still, it was fun to watch as families prepared for this festive time.

  5. ^ – ^ I totally agree with you. Learning some local words is very helpful in any situations , even when you just wanna say “thank you”, a local word may give a big hand to win people’s hearts !For the same reason – when I were in Thailand , I said “sawadikhab”-hello and “kobkunka”-thank you-all the time :P However , speaking is much more eaiser than writing in the right way, I can only speak out the words (above) that’s why I do feel that your Vietnamese is amazing,if you ask me if I can write down or even just recognize the writing of “sawadikhab” and “kobkunka”, I may find me a river and jump into it immediately! (Only “may” , not sure I “will” do that :P )

    Your nice compliment really made my day ^ v ^ I have a great interest in new languages study. However, I spent almost time for English’s listening and speaking skills-that’s why I always find it difficult to write and read well -so up to now ,I still keep improving these 2 skills-little by little-day by day ^ – ^

    I think that motorbike now already becomes a “reachable” asset that all families-from low-income to middle-income can afford-at least one.Yes I have ^ – ^, my parent bought me one as a gift when I was in my 1st year of university-4 years ago! Have you ever try riding a motorbike? ^ – ^ It will be more challenging than walking down the streets-I bet! How is my level in controliing that thing? – let’s have a drive someday and you’ll see ^ – ^

    yeah , to me – preparing is the best part of a festival ,the feeling when when you say : “oh today is the day” – and you sing la la la ,then eveything happens too fast, untill you realize, the festival already slipped through your hands!

    1. Stay encouraged, Yinyin, you’re doing very, very well with writing in English! I’ve studied French and German, and I understand how challenging it can be to improve the various components that are necessary to learn a language.

      To answer your question, yes, I’ve ridden on a motorbike in the past – in India and in Hanoi several years ago. Those were definitely hectic places to ride! I was only the passenger and not the driver, though.

      Hope your Tet preparations are going smoothly!

      1. “Chúc mừng năm mới” Tricia ^ – ^ wish you and your family a happy , peaceful , “safe and sound” lunar new year !

        The preparation trully took so much time and “blood” from me (I got my hand hurt when holding 2 watermelons at the same time,haha ) =))

        Wish you may visit Saigon in Tết someday ^ – ^ Tricia ! The streets here are just covered by flowers from those flower markets, there is even a floating market in district 8. You sure will love it there,I bet ^ – <

        I will have a post abt all of these things soon ,since I can't add any photos in this comment window :(, I will send you some lucky money (lì xì) in the coming post ^ – ^ cheers !

      2. Thank you for the Lunar New Year’s greetings, Yinyin, and here’s hoping your hands are feeling better after working with those watermelons! Is it true that the more red the watermelon, the more luck it brings?

        I will look forward to seeing your Tet reports very soon, and until then, send you and your family chúc mừng năm mới greetings in return! The District 8 floating flower market sounds very beautiful.

        On a side note, you inspired me to do a Tet post tomorrow. In it, I’ll be reminiscing about my time in Hanoi during Tet in 2009. :)

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