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A love developed in Hà Nội

Update: August, 23/2018 - 09:00
Top spot: Romanian video/photographer Alex Varninschi stands on a peak in the northern province of Hà Giang. — Photo courtesy of Alex Varninschi
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Romanian videographer and photographer Alex Varninschi has travelled to a lot of big cities in Europe and Asia, but when he arrived in Hà Nội, he felt something very different.

“For Hà Nội, it was kind of love at first sight that I decided to settle here,” Varninschi said.

“What brings me to Hà Nội is exactly the opposite feeling that you would get from a big city,” he said.

Now Varninschi is trying to start a videography business here. He travels to many destinations in Việt Nam and has had his work published by National Geographic’s photo community ‘Your Shot’.

Varninschi was born and raised in Romania. He has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in journalism and communication sciences and for most of his career, he worked as a journalist.

Varninschi has worked on student magazines, radio, online newspapers, multimedia reporting, documentaries, reporting for a central television station, been to a war zone in Ukraine and worked on many stories in and outside Romania.

In 2016 Varninschi quit his job and came to Asia to travel and visited Việt Nam for the first time.

He came to the northern province of Hà Giang where he joined a volunteering project. After travelling around the country, he felt at home and has worked in Hà Nội since then.

“I’m not trying to get rich here, I just enjoy a very different way of life that only Hà Nội can offer,” he said.

There are plenty of opportunities in other big cities, but unlike others, Hà Nội preserves the charm of the past, a slow-paced life and small buildings compared to glass sky-scrapers rising across the world in big cities, Varninschi said.

“Life here is totally different from the capital-oriented life in the West that I grew so tired of back home. Money is important, of course, but I don’t feel that daily pressure here from people to make money by all means. Maybe I’m wrong, or just blind to that, but I like the oriental feeling Hà Nội still preserves in its tiled roofs.”

Love at first sight: Alex says he feels at home in Việt Nam. — Photo courtesy of Alex Varninschi


Varninschi is the kind of person who only does things he enjoys or projects that he believes in.

“The good thing is that no day looks like the previous day or the next day. I’m sick of that nine-to-five routine of an office job.”

Though Varninschi has visited many destinations, he doesn’t travel as much as he would like to.

“The unforgettable moments in Việt Nam are somehow connected to the Hà Giang Province where I would go back anytime. It’s just an escape from this world.”

“The kindness of the people, the amazing landscape, the wonderful time I had there, kind of make Hà Giang number one for me in Việt Nam. My home, Hà Nội, is the second best.”

However, each destination leaves different a impression in his mind, for example the ancient roofs in Hội An, quiet beaches in Nha Trang and Phú Quốc and the beauty of high peaks in Lào Cai Province.

“I vividly remember one night in Phú Quốc, after coming back from the beach around two in the morning by motorbike, I ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere,” he said.

“One young guy who was just passing by stopped and offered me half a litre of petrol from his own tank. He didn’t even want to accept any money for it. It was heartwarming.”

The more he travels, the more he realises that people here aren’t respectful towards nature and the environment. The amount of rubbish, the burning of the garbage, the pollution and the lack of sympathy towards animals are some things he’s concerned with.

“If this city would become green and clean (though it has plenty of trees), it would be a paradise. I think people have to start being more aware. Also, use less plastic. No plastic would be perfect.”

Working as a videographer and photographer, he is inspired by the people he meets and the places he goes. It can be anything from an empty wall, an old lady, a shop or a beautiful street.

“Việt Nam is extremely photogenic, there is something about the textures of this country that makes it incredibly vivid, lively, so even if you’re blind you’ll feel inspired here.”

Varninschi said he has no plans for the future. He doesn’t know what’s going to happen next. But he feels at home here.

“I really want to improve my Vietnamese. I love Việt Nam, who doesn’t?” — VNS


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