Travel photographer Allison Heiliczer focuses on the people of Vietnam’s two cities.

I sandwiched a trip to Southeast Asia first with a visit to Ho Chi Minh City and later a return to Hanoi. There is something uniquely Vietnamese in the people and places I photographed — a mingling of warmth and toughness, a way of moving through space that is forceful yet graceful. The eyes tell me of historical struggles, but also of a desire to move forward and the will to create the Vietnam they envision.

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1. Between shifts, this man savors the local paper.

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2. Waiting for mom to board the bike that will take her to school.

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3. Smiles abound before returning to duty.

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4. Watching a passer-by while enjoying the newspaper.

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5. A lazy summer day in Hanoi.

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6. A bank guard with a big smile.

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7. Hoping to avoid the paddle by frustratedly pleading his case.

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8. Laughs at breakfast.

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9. Speaking the universal Grandmother Language of Love.

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10. A salesman serious about his lychees.

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11. Ho Chi Minh’s face lights up Vietnamese Dong in the hands of a local.

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12. Awaiting a customer for her newspapers.

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13. Masked lady protected against any bugs or dirt that would disrupt her motorcycle ride home.

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14. After a downpour, Hanoi rides.

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