The Slum Along the Mekong

Chau Doc (Vietnam). This is a slum – a very poor and overpopulated urban settlement – along the Mekong Delta, in Chau Doc. I went through it directly from the river. As I saw it, I was impressed by the colours of some clothes and towels hung out to dry. However, as I walked along the narrow pier connecting the river to the main street, I remember I could not believe how dark was that path – my eyes were blind and even my camera was not properly set for those conditions of very poor light. I found these two aspects quite symbolic of life in that place…

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The “Tra Su” Mangrove Forest

Chau Doc (Vietnam). The Tra Su mangrove forest is a paradise on earth, and as such it’s very difficult to describe it using words or even with photographs… I had a tour around its narrow channels through intricate trees, using a small boat rowed by a woman. The forest is a paradise for birdwatchers, and what will impress you is over all its silence and quite, broken only by the click of my camera. It’s a unique experience, another amazing place of the amazing Vietnam.

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Fish Farmer Along the Mekong River

Chau Doc (Vietnam). Navigating along the Mekong River’s delta is an amazing experience, no need to say. People living on the floating houses – mainly fishermen and fish farmers – populate this part of Vietnam and make it unique in the world. I was enjoying a solo-cruise at sunset looking for fishermen to photograph, when my attention was captured by this young man sit on his house’s entrance. The perfect light, typical of the “golden hour”, together with his face, his position and the house framing him, made the entire scene very nice to be photographed. I could not resist!

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Weekday Afternoon at Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay (Vietnam). When I included Ha Long Bay in my itinerary around Vietnam, my expectations were quite high – maybe too much I must admit. The point is that I saw this places many times in postcards or websites, and I decided that definitely it was “the place to go”. As you probably know, the typical landscape of Ha Long Bay is made of hundreds islands – big or small – covered with green trees, which are in contrast with the dark gray of the rocks; and this was what I was expecting to see. Let me say, I was wrong.

As it happens frequently, my expectations were probably too high, or perhaps my eyes were already so full of that image – seen so many times before – that once I was finally there, in the famous Ha Long Bay, I was not so motivated in photographing it. Isn’t it weird? However, something else captured my attention, particularly two things; the first one was the life around that place: it was not a place only for tourists (as popular destinations normally are), but there were people living there, fishermen, pearl farms and so on. I found this unexpected authenticity quite impressive. The second one was the general quiet: thanks to the many islands around, the water was totally calm, without even small waves. And no wind at all: around me there was only silence and peace, I got the impression of being in a sort of lagoon, more than in a bay.

For this reason, when I saw this man fishing on his boat close to a typical rocky formation and on a very calm water, I thought it was the most representative photograph I could take of Ha Long Bay – at least, the most representative for what Ha Long Bay was for me.

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Landscape of Chau Doc on the Mekong Delta

Chau Doc (Vietnam). Chau Doc is an intriguing destination on the Mekong delta, close to the Cambodian border. I definitely loved this place: I spent some hours photographing the life along the river’s banks, watching people farming fishes and moving with their boats. There’s something of magic here, it’s difficult to explain: a sort of “Vietnamese Venice” that made me thing that if Canaletto were from Vietnam, he would had painted Chau Doc.

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Young Monks at the Thien Mu Pagoda

Hue (Vietnam). The value of some photos is in remembering a special moment. I met these two young monks at the Thien Mu Pagoda in Hue while I was walking and admiring this wonderful place. They were praying, but they made me understand that they were not disturbed by my presence. I staid in a corner, without taking photos but simply watching them and letting the peace generated by that moment pervading myself. When they finished, before closing the room where they were praying, they made me understand that I could take a photos of them – it was like a remuneration for my silent respect of their activity. At the end, I had the feeling that they were even happy to be photographed: as said, it was a special moment…

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