Written by Yusuf Hashim
Over the last 15 years I have been privileged to visit Vietnam more than a dozen times, initially as country leader for the PhotoMalaysia Team on our annual International Crossing Bridges event, and in subsequent years, on private visits mostly hosted by my very good friends Peter Pham and Haipiano Nguyen from Vietnam. The photo above is yours truly, shot in a Hanoi street by fellow PhotoMalaysia Admin, Maxby Chan, during yet another PhotoSafari to Vietnam, last week.
The Crossing Bridges Event is an annual getting together of photographers from Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Korea. Initially mooted by photographer friends from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam, the annual Crossing Bridges event, has grown with more and more countries joining in, providing participants who join, a valuable base of photographer friends in member countries. All member countries take turns to host the Annual Crossing Bridges get together, with each country taking turns each year, to host the event in their respective countries. Malaysia hosted the event in 2012. Singapore were the hosts for 2013. And the hosts this year, will be Korea.
The date for this year’s Crossing Bridges event will be from 1-7 November 2014. If you are keen to participate, please send an email to me email@example.com, and include your full name, a legible scanned coloured copy of your passport which must have at least 6 months validity from the date of intended travel, your address, email address, HP number and next-of-kin details (name, relationship, email address, HP number, Home address). Participation costs, for the 7 day event is estimated to be only US$750, excluding air fares to Korea. Preference will be given to those PhotoMalaysia members who helped in the organization of the last CB event when it was held in Malaysia in 2014. Once your application to be a part of the Malaysian Team is approved, you will be expected to pay the US$750 participating fee, which is non refundable, should you decide to withdraw for any reason whatsoever. Although the fees paid are non refundable, you may propose a replacement participant, who must be a PhotoMalaysia member, whose acceptance will be subject to PhotoMalaysia Administrators’ approval.
As we’ve just returned from a PhotoSafari to Vietnam’s Ha Giang province last week, and with Vietnam still fresh in my mind, I’d like to share with you, a few photos I’ve shot in Vietnam during numerous visits to that beautiful country over the last 15 years, including two Crossing Bridges events which were hosted by the Vietnamese in previous years..
- The 1400 years old Chua Tran Quoc Pagoda on an islet in Hanoi’s West Lake.
The next photo is the Fire walking ceremony of the Pa Then People of Ha Giang Province in Vietnam. This was shot in 2012. The Pa Then ethnic minority people regard Fire as something sacred. They hold flame dancing ceremonies regularly to pray for bumper crops and good luck, and to express thanks to their gods for good harvests and crops. It’s like no other flame walking ceremonies that you’ve seen. This is a multi-exposure shot created in-camera by my 1Dx, one of the few DSLRs capable of doing this….
Multiple Exposure shot of Fire Walking Ceremony of the Pa Then people of Ha Giang
The photo below was also shot in 2012. This is a Dao couple lighting a fire to boil water to make tea for us when we visited their modest mud home in Ha Giang. Unlike Sapa which is tourist-shocked and quite unfriendly to zillions of tourists visiting Sapa to shoot the ethnic Red and Black Hmongs, the Dais and the Tais, who walk around the town in their exquisite tribal dresses, the Daos of Ha Giag are still visitor friendly, because the area is not so easily accessible, and because permits are needed in view of the proximity of the porous Vietnamese-China border. When we returned to Ha Giang last week for a PhotoSafari, this was one of the photos I printed and gave to this very nice couple.
Below, is another perspective of this same Dao lady. I like to shoot photos with this kind of mood lighting. I call it my pseudo-chiaroscuro series.
Vietnam is a very looooong country. North to south, the country spans more than 2500 km, from sea level to around 3 to 4 thousand meters above sea level, so the diversity in climates, landscapes, tribal people, geography, and even cultural practices, are very great. Which is why, despite visiting Vietnam dozens of times over the last 15 years, I’m never tired of Vietnam. While it may be hot and humid with temperatures around 30°C in the south, it could be frosty and even snowing in the mountainous north. When we were there last week, the temperature was in the mid to low twenties in Hanoi, but in Ha Giang and the mountainous North, the temperature hovered around 2 degrees in the mornings, and never went above 12 to 15°C in the afternoons. Below is a photo shot in the hilly mid-country region around Dalat, on one foggy morning.
The photo below was shot at dawn in 2011 at Long Hai Beach in Vietnam. Veteran PhotoSafari participants Kwai Hoong on the left and Qool Mama Roziah Sam on the right are busy shooting Long Hai fishermen hauling in their catch from the night before.
A Bamboo Pipe Smoker exhaling . This was shot nearly 20 years ago during one of my earliest photo outing in Vietnam…
A Bamboo Pipe Smoker exhaling ……
And here’s one of my favourite photos from Vietnam … a Dao farmer, relaxing with his bamboo water pipe. I swear I know what was mixed with the tobacco. Same aroma as you’d get in many of the pubs in Canal street in Amsterdam’s Red Light District. Sometimes you get a little light headed if you breathe in this type of second hand smoke …
Dao Farmer smoking his Bamboo Pipe in his modest home. The Smoke gave texture and substance to the light rays streaming into the dark home.
I love the juxtaposition in this next photo. This poster, advertising Samurai beer, was all over the cities of Vietnam .. on giant mono poles, at shopping Malls, on street corners …. and in dark alleys like this one, where a hole in the wall was a tiny Pho Hua Vietnamese Noodle Hawker stall….
And here’s another one in the same series ….
The next photo was shot in 2011 at the Nha Lon ancient Temple, at the commune of the Followers of Tran. Lee Van Muu, or more fondly known as Tran by his followers, started the ancient Nha Lon Temple for the followers of the Tu An Hieu Nghia religion. The followers of the Tu An Hieu Nghia religion who regard Tran with much reverence, all wear a basic black ba ba costume. They walk bare footed and keep their hair as buns, and many have beautiful long white beards like in this next photo. They consider Nha Lon their sacred common house which they work hard to preserve. This is a unique place to shoot, and several photos I shot at this temple are included in my book, Dep Qua Vietnam. The very friendly people at the House of Tran in Nha Lon, Long Son (10° 27′ 16.99″ N 107° 5′ 45.16″ E), were very happy when I presented one copy of my book to them, when I revisited the House of Tran again in 2012.
The Followers of Tran, at the House of Tran at Nha Lon, Long Son
The photo below was shot in a temple in Ho Chi Minh city in 2009
Praying at an ancient temple in Ho Chi Minh city
At Dai Ninh lake in the Dalat Highlands in 2009, all the PhotoSafari participants were busy shooting a lone fisherman in the misty lake in the morning. I was on another peninsula of the lake and I shot them instead. Below is the photo I shot, which was used on the cover of my book, Dep Qua Vietnam, which means, You are Beautiful, Vietnam.
One cold morning at the misty Dai Ninh Lake in the Dalat Highlamds
One more photo from Long Hai Beach, where Fishermen land their catch very early every morning. This one was shot during a photosafari to Vietnam in 2011.
The Fishermen of Long Hai use very unique circular baskets as small boats to paddle back and forth from shore to ship carrying the catch.
You can purchase the online ebook HERE
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