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  • Writer's pictureNatalia Anakkar

A picture paints a thousand words: In Vietnam

My adventures in Vietnam were eye opening, emotional and beautiful all at the same time.

Good morning Vietnam indeed as dear Robin Williams would say. What a whirlwind of colours, smells and tastes. I explored a lot of Vietnam starting off in Hanoi where you soon learn to just trust your instincts and walk regardless of if you think a moped is going to ram you down or not. Think too long and it most likely will so you may as well take your chances! Next up was Halong Bay where the most beautiful cruise boat took us deep into the bay and inspired us with the legendary story of the fallen dragon and the beauty of nature, unveiled years ago. Hoi an, a place where lanterns light the way whether hung from the sky above or scattered out across the calm river each night. Tourists could contribute their own lit lantern to the river to give a special gesture to their loved ones who have past. We then explored Ho Chi Minh previously known as Saigon. Here we noticed change from Hanoi, there was much more of a modern touch with more build up buildings and less of what you could say had a"typical Vietnam touch".

In this piece of writing, I want to share with you some moments that I managed to photograph. Moments that not only meant I could bring the memory with me and keep it living, but moments that captured my heart.

A mother and daughter bond stronger than any other

My fiancé and I were lucky enough to meet this wonderful family on board their boat where they were selling heaps of pineapples to make a living. I can tell you know that even though they live a very simple life, one with little luxury and one that remains tougher than most people would ever lead, they were happy! Look at that mother with her little girl. That's her world right there. These people loved each other very much and even though I'm sure they may look at the lives of others and often wonder, they probably don't realise that deep down all anyone wants is a love like theirs, regardless of pretty, shiny things and lots of money. The dad let us on the boat to enjoy the views and to just meet them personally I guess. They had a kind and gentile way about them and not once did they even push us to buy any of their fruit. I think the father was just proud to show off his family and to teach us how they earn their living by travelling hours a day to come and sell handpicked fruit to tourists like us and to the local business men and women who lived in the area. Utter hard work with most likely little earnings but I tell you what, not once did he complain about it and what I shall never forget is the way they all smiled. Genuine smiles, the whole time. As we made way our way off into the distance, we said goodbye and the little girl started waving at me with her mummy and her sweet smile was one that shall never leave me.

A Monk praying at the Grand Palace

I saw this moment and just had to capture it. The monk was praying with his beads and sacred belongings whilst hundreds of people made their way through the palace with high energy and pace. I was distracted not by the people making the most noice but by this man. The way he is calm and at peace. He is lost in his own thoughts, prayers and beliefs that no one is powerful enough to compete with. I just love the composition of this photo with the young girls sat together and each with matching hats, taking in the sacred and embellished buildings probably on a trip just like we were. Then you have this one man, just sat there, so simple, so scared and so at honour of this magnificent place that he calls his home.

If Vietnam were a person, she would be it

A stranger to me, one who I can't even see the face of but one who made me look and think what her life must be like. I was captured by this at first because of the beautiful bright flowers she carried and then by the traditional "Pot" hat but then the more I looked, the more these things got lost and all I could see was a lady making her way through the busy streets of Hanoi with nothing but her bike and beaten up shoes. She had a heavy load to carry one with many things she needed to sell. In Vietnam, we went to the Women's Museum and we learnt all about the women living and earning their way. This woman would probably have been up at the crack of dawn growing and picking crops to sell here in the city. The days would be very long and she would not be able to afford to leave until all her goods had been sold. Most likely she would be earning money to take back home somewhere out of the city to then provide for her children. She may have to live in the city for a while each time before being able to go back home. This originally caught my eye because of something rich and beautiful but I soon discovered that this depicts a hard working woman who has to dig deep to get by. Someone who has done this all her life, knows nothing else, but someone who battles on with the struggles that face her and her drive and persistence would be worth it for at the end of the day, she is providing for her family.

A sea of orange in a very sacred place

I loved this one because of the bright orange against the white and neutral surroundings. It definitely made me capture this moment of the three monks walking in unison towards the Palace to begin their daily duties. The richness of the colour is bold and strong. It makes them look powerful and sums up the culture here with the working monks walking around.

The temples in the background on either side of them look almost placed and then there are tourists walking by the side of them looking very different. This shows the beauty of the culture and how different ways of dressing can create almost a story of what is behind the life of a monk in Vietnam. Colourful, religious and giving meaning to the world, especially to those who believe in Buddha.

What a journey, Vietnam definitely opened up my eyes to a lot of things. I am someone who loves my luxuries as much as the next person but after seeing how hundreds of Vietnamese people live their life, it definitely makes you appreciate yours and to not take things for granted. To not become greedy and to not underestimate the power of kindness.

I must say I was exhausted by the end of our trip for we walked everywhere and didn't really stop exploring whether this was with the help of Lonely Planet or just getting lost ourselves to discover the unknown. I feel well travelled and hope to continue adventures to other parts of the world for it really does make you the mind!

Another woman selling her fruit on the floating market

Love N x

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