Wearing the nón lá, a leaf hat is symbolic to the Vietnamese. The image of wearing one is commonly found in souvenir arts and crafts. The perfectly shaped cone hat is made out of palm leaves or weeds and bamboo rings. It’s made by hand. But it is more than a traditional costume that goes with the ao dai, a flowing tunic dress. It is not just something you buy to remind you of Vietnam. Ordinary folks actually wear it every day. The nón lá has a purpose – a protection from the sun and the rain, a basket for marketing and a fan on extra warm days.
On the way to Halong Bay, I saw farmers working in fields and they were wearing the conical hat. Beautiful sight! An ideal photo opportunity! However it wasn’t the best time to bring out the cam since I was sandwiched in the middle seat of the car. Besides, we were more of anxious to catch our boat on time. Then back in Hanoi, peddlers selling food and wares were also wearing the nón lá. And so I took pictures of them every chance I got…when in the car, when on foot and when trying to cross the street. Chasing hats wasn’t easy as I was constantly on the move and they were on the move, too. Most of them were on their bikes! Here are some shots that were taken by the chaser.