Recalling Hanoi

Posted: 10 Dec 2011

Landscape is entangled with history and people’s lives. Irrespective of age or social position, we all have very interesting stories that can touch others no matter where we come from.
Recalling Hanoi is my vision of Hanoi, a tapestry weaved out of portraits, people’s stories and the urban landscape that hosts them.

I am continually looking for more people to take part in the project to tell a story.

If you are interested to meet me for more info please write to me (in English or in Vietnamese)

To know more about the project and how to take part –> please visit the statement page

Dear readers,

I am going to be very honest and pour my heart to you in this post… I hope it’s not too much.

I am going through some difficulties lately. I am feeling quite lonely in my creative process. I think it happens to all creative people working really hard on a project, being so focus that when they take some steps back it becomes overwhelming, even more when they are not able to have feedback from their peers.

That’s what’s happening to me at the moment… I am feeling overwhelmed by the state of the project, what I have done and what is left to do, and in addition the other jobs I have to handle to finance this project…
When I was studying photography in France we had regular meetings with our teachers to evaluate how far we had gone and get feedback from them; sometimes it was constructive, sometimes it was a lot of bullshit, but we were never alone. I knew that once out of school I had the knowledge and skills to step back from my work, analyze it and make decisions to move forward, that’s principally what the school taught me. But at the moment I feel that I can not step back, because I am doubting, I don’t see my mistakes, I am so involve I can’t see anymore, and I have worked on this for so long I am getting frustrated and I just want to finish…

I have been feeling like that for a while now, but I am just realizing it and admitting it… is it because I turned 30 and I feel the rush to finally accomplish something concretely… ? probably.

One of my biggest doubts is about the photo of the location for each story. I am trying a new thing with the Holga camera…. and I made a test with Phuong’s story. Usually I present you with the portrait first, the story and then the location but this time I will show the photos next to each other.

What Do YOU Think ?
I would really love some feedbacks by comments or email. (volajulie at gmail dot com). Thanks !

Click on the link to Continue reading »

a witness

Posted: 31 May 2013

I am lucky to meet some amazing people.

Last month, I have met an internationally known Hanoi born and raised top model, a witness of Vietnam musical history, a master in chicken fight, a famous painter, etc.
At the moment I am still editing stories and photos but I would like to share with you one encounter that touch me deeply.

(Two things you need to know about this blog post: First, I can’t offer Vietnamese translation anymore, I apologize for that. If you want to help, that would be so kind, just drop me an email. Second my English grammar isn’t great at all in this post, I am aware, but it has been too long since my last entry, and I really wanted to share this with you!).

So let’s get back to it !

We were set to meet a journalist at what was for me just another similar Café around West Lake… Continue reading »

Special feature…

Posted: 18 Mar 2013

Hello, Hello ! 

Today I have a special treat for you, but first a little update.

Since after Tet, I have been renting a desk at Commune Café and work has been going good since. I am almost finished with the interviews, I am soon approaching the desired number of 80, but of course, as I already knew, doing interview has become addictive and I am finding myself wanting to do more!
I keep the few remaining interviews left to do for special people, famous people, VIP, Ambassadors, etc… please if you are reading this and you know someone, write me an email, I need your help!

So I sent a few emails here and there. I made a beautiful PDF presenting the project, and I crossed my fingers, waiting.

A couple weeks ago, I received a positive and very nice answer from the Israeli Embassy and an appointment was made. I met with Mrs. Chahar last Tuesday. Of course it was also the only day it rained last week…
It all started with the security check. I was met outside the Embassy, on the street, by a security officer who first took my passport and disappeared inside for 5 minutes or so, then he came back and asked me many question, who am I, why I am here, why do I have a meeting with the Ambassador herself, what is my project, why do I do that, for how long, and so on. You would not expect anything less from an Israeli governmental security officer. Security is an understandable matter for Israeli representatives, and I was just happy to experience it first hand.
We finally got inside (but not in the building yet), and we inspected my bad thoroughly. I was not allowed to bring my cell phone in and since it was raining and I wasn’t planning to photograph Mrs. the Ambassador anyway, my camera and my whole bag was left outside the building. I was allowed to take my pen and my notebook, which also got search thoroughly (I do have a lot of papers in that notebook). Then I went through a metal detector and my shoes made it ring, so I took them off, put on some (very comfy) crocks and I wasn’t making any more noise.
My passport was checked again, and I was finally invited in. walked up the stairs and I was quickly welcome by a warm and nice staff and soon after by Mrs. the Ambassador herself. The meeting went really well; the ambassador was nice and genuine. It was quite an interesting experience.

Hmmm, that could be a good story for the project where I, for once, would be the story teller; but who will take my photo ?

On another completely different subject, here is the treat, the story for today. Let me present you our dear host here at Grapevine, Brian. Thank you Brian for hosting the blog and for believing in the project !


(if you want to read his story, you have to click below)

Continue reading »

Happy New Year

Posted: 19 Feb 2013

Happy New Year 2013 !

I think I will have to start all of my post the same way : “I am genuinely sorry it has been so long”. I have recently told someone to stop making excuses, so I won’t make any today. I have not posted anything but I have been working.

Now let me get back to the reason I actually came here for today.

The snake sheds its old skin to reveal a shiny new one… Happy Year of the Snake 2013!

Please remember through all the wishes of Happiness that “you should be determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation you may find yourself. For we have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.” (Martha Washington)


And please click to see some new faces.

Continue reading »

After a summer break

Posted: 28 Sep 2012

Where have I been ?

With my assistant, Chau, we have been very busy for the last month and a half!
During the week we focus on contacting people and arrange the meetings, work on the previous stories and go to our other full time jobs. She works for an educational service company specialized on US study and I am an English and kindergarten teacher. In the weekend we have interviews and work together on a plan for the following week. We have been conducting 2 to 3 interviews per weekend, if we keep doing such a good job we will finish interviews by December. If it goes according to plan, next year I will start working on the book version, exhibitions, finding sponsors and spaces who would be interested to show it.

Since this summer I am trying to stay focus on the portraits and the stories and I did not take any photos of the locations since a while and the list is now getting longer. I have actually only a few stories with the location photos left in reserve and this is why I did not post any stories lately. It doesn’t seem that I am going to take any soon. To end the silence on the blog I decided to give you previews of the stories and portraits though it will be incomplete it will give you a tease (I hope) to see more later.

A couple of weeks ago we met with Binh and her family. The grandfather 93 years old told us his story about the bombing of Kham Thien street in 1972, how the morning after, he went there to help. You understand the horror of a war when you see a 93 years old man telling you about it with his eyes full of tears even after 40 years. We all ended up tearing up with him…


Mr Man


Posted: 31 Jul 2012

Ms Due was one of these unlikely and beautiful encounters.
I was walking in her neighborhood with another person I interviewed for the project. She was sitting in the shade with a toddler on her laps and chatting with neighboors. Ms Due was advanced in years, the contrast between her and the very young girl was screaming to me “take a photo !!”. So with my few vietnamese words and help from my friend I approched them. First she refused I take a photo, saying she was old and ugly, to which I answered that to me she was so beautiful, you could see her whole life featured on her face and that was very moving. She accepted, I took the photos, thanked her a thousand time and moved on to the next streets. The photo, we will never see it, I F***** it up…
A few weeks later I returned to that neighborhood to interview Ms Duyen, my friend’s teacher. She asked me if I knew an old lady called Ms Due. I didn’t. Ms Due has been asking everybody around who was this foreigner girl that came in the neighbohood a few weeks ago, she absolutely wanted to meet me again before she died. I could not figure who Ms Duyen was speaking about… She said Ms Due was living a couple of floors below hers and we could go right now to meet her. And so we went, and so I met Ms Due again. She told me she was very impressed with me, that no other foreigner ever spoke to her before, that young people never talk to her anymore, that they are not interested in her anymore. And here I was talking to her and being interested to what she had to say.  So we spoke together for a couple hours thanks to my assistant’s translations. And of course you can see where I am going with this, I asked her to participate in the project, which she was happy to do. I took pictures of her and her friend, of her and her grand-daughter.

That was last year, since then I haven’t been able to contact Ms Due or Ms Duyen to give them the picture…

Ms Due

The girl and the Lake
Continue reading »

Le Huu Chi

Posted: 30 Jun 2012

Dear readers,

I don’t remember where I read about Mr Huu Chi, I did not have his name nor I knew how to find him. All I knew is that he has a coffee shop where you can eat home-made yogurt and that one day his path crossed the one of a famous actress. And you know with that little information it was not difficult to find him at all.

When I was finally able to meet him, I became very emotional, I came very close to tear up. His figure reminded me so much of my grandfather, and I don’t know if it’s his cologne or his aftershave, but he had the same smell than my grandfather as well. He is sharp and funny, such a warm person, you never want to stop speaking with him. I feel so grateful I was able to meet him.

(Kinh Do – 252 Hang Bong)

Continue reading »


Posted: 12 Apr 2012


Dear Readers, if there are any of you out there… if you read this blog and would be interested to participate telling your own story, or know someone who might be, please contact me or my assistant Mai at

I realize I didn’t make it clear how easy the process is. After you contacted us via email saying you want to take part, we will make an appointment with you at your convenience (during the day). We can help you with finding your story. During that meeting you will tell us about your memory (in English or in Vietnamese) and we will write it down as you speak (you don’t have to write anything); then I will take some photos of you. That’s it! It usually only takes 1h30min. As soon as I am done working on the photo, we will re-contact  you to give you a copy of it.

My goal is to collect up to 80 stories and so far I have 30, and I would like to finish collecting stories before the end of 2012.
It’s not that easy to get people to tell me stories, sometimes people are too shy or believe they don’t have anything interesting to say; I would like to answer to that : That’s not true !
- first, yes I do photoshop the photos so you will look your best (without airbrushing like crazy though), I, myself have a hard time being in front of the camera and I know what it is, so I will always make sure you feel comfortable and you look good,
- and second, everybody has a memory somewhere in Hanoi, it doesn’t matter how small, or big, or extraordinary or ordinary that memory is.


For today’ story, please welcome Ms Thin. I will never thank her enough for sharing that story with me… shhhh no spoiler, you will have to read it all !


Continue reading »


Posted: 02 Apr 2012

A Goodbye

Last week I said goodbye to a friend of mine who is continuing her journey in Asia. She is one of the first persons I met in Hanoi, to whom I talked about the project, and who participated in it. Thank You so much for your support. I wish you all the best.

A Free Day

I was staying in a guesthouse Continue reading »


Posted: 14 Mar 2012

Dear Friends,

today I received my first email from one of you readers. Thank you Van !

This is very exciting but also reminds me I haven’t updated the blog as often as I promised myself I would. As I am looking for a new assistant/translator to help me with the project, this post won’t be translated today.
Van reminded me of my first interview, with Hong May, and how special her story is to me.


Hong May

We are 4 girlfriends like sisters. We have known each other for almost 20 years now. Continue reading »