An array of the many faces of Vietnam
If a picture says a thousand words, what does a picture of someone’s face say? Does it have deep lines indicative of a hard life or is it displaying an easy youthful nature. Are they happy and joyful or stressed and sad? You can read so much into a person’s life by carefully considering their facial features. As we have travelled Southeast Asia it has become more and more evident the last 50years has been extremely difficult for many of the people of these countries. After such a lengthy war, it is clear many of the people in Vietnam have lived through atrocities I can’t begin to imagine. When compared with the carefree youth of today there is an obvious difference between the two groups.
This photo blog captures both the young and old of Vietnam. To me, each photo represents a different lifestyle, different hardships and contrasting levels of contentment.
Young and fearful
This little boy was incredibly frightened by us. We were in the Lak Lake area on our Easyrider tour and stopped at a minority village that farms cacao and coffee. He was looking after his younger brother, not an adult in sight, and they were hiding in some old hessian bags. After we coaxed them out with the promise of lollies, he reluctantly stood for this photo before running away to hide again.
The smirk that says it all
Her cheeky smile says it all. On a bike nearly taller than she was, she watched us drive past on the motorbikes, offering this cheeky smirk once we had driven past. It looks like she knows something we don’t and she is about to utilise that knowledge.
This young fella was loving the attention from the camera. We visited the village he was playing at, his parents busy weaving bamboo baskets. When he saw the camera he was all too quick to lean against a fence post, smiling and posing before grabbing his friends and encouraging them to do the same.
Curious but careful
Together with her friends, this little girl was collecting water from the well. She was curious about us, taking every opportunity to sneak a glance our way. We were just as fascinated by her tiny might; she packed at least 5litres of water into her bamboo basket before carrying it home.
Carefree and relaxed
The joy so easily seen on her face is the type of carefree joy that is usually only seen in children. We wandered into her backyard with a bag of lollies and she was laughing and giggling with her friend at the two white giants that had just walked in. Quite shy, she was trying to encourage her friend to get lollies for both of them. It wasn’t long before her desire for sweets won and she cautiously approached us.
The boarder-line grimace
Each time I see this photo it makes me smile. So often young children show all their teeth like this instead of smiling. It reminds me of old class photos from primary school. It seems this boy was so busy staring that he forgot to smile properly.
Oozing character and charm
This old bloke has so much style and character. Sitting quietly in Hoi An, just down from the Japanese Bridge, he offered us a boat ride but ended up giving us a photo shoot. We initially chatted away in broken English before asking to take his picture. He was too happy to oblige, stroking his beard and gazing down the barrel of the camera.
When exhaustion sets in
A hard working generation, this lady is no exception. Busy at the bustling fish market, she rose before dawn to sell her catch to the eager buyers. Now, mid-morning, shes exhausted, already hours into her day but with so many more to go.
A knowing face
Such an incredible smile, even though there are a few teeth missing. Selling flowers to brighten people’s houses, spending even a short amount of time in her presence is enough to brighten the day of most. Her knowing smirk alludes to the extensive wisdom she has gained over many, many years.
The neighbourhood watch
Living on the edge of the markets, this man observes the daily grind. Happy to give his opinion and guidance, it is clear he knows a lot about the area. Years of wisdom are etched into his face and his stoic, relaxed demeanour demands respect.
Stranded on Land
A few days worth of stubble adorns this mans face has he works trying to sell decorations in the hype leading up to Lunar New Year. Usually out on the water fishing, the rough seas have rendered him stranded on land and his frustration was clear.
A bakers ritual
A hectic morning ritual is the norm for this lady and the added pressure of Lunar New Year is nothing new. As a baker, she spends the morning in the kitchen frantically mixing cakes to be sold at the markets. After inviting us into her home she barely stood still for a second, constantly checking, mixing and exchanging trays of goods.
The seasoned fisherman
With the seas too rough for the fishermen to venture out, the markets were packed with toughened men helping their families prepare for Lunar New Year. This man was no exception and no doubt frustrated with the turn his morning had taken.
The best excuse
Deep smile lines frame this mans face. He was ecstatic with the rough seas that have enabled him the day off. He was busy telling us about his plans for Lunar New Year, his excitement barely containable as he told us how much he enjoys having his family together.
Shy but curious
This wee fella was busy making his own fun while his mother worked at the markets. His shyness was quickly replaced with curiosity and fascination with the camera. After showing him a picture of himself, he laughed, seeing something hilarious in the way the camera had caught him.
The hard life
For the past 60 years, this man has made the massive bamboo baskets fisherman use as dinghies. Making two a week, his life has been a constant struggle as he constantly strives to earn a living.
Charismatic and talented
This mother of five lives in a minority village in Sapa, joining us for our trek through the valley. As charismatic as they come, she joked with us in perfect English. A lovely attitude and grace she had an array of beautiful handmade silver bracelets, each engraved by her talented hands.
Playing in the rain
This little boy must be freezing. Playing in the rain in the near zero temperatures in Sapa he was as happy as anything, until his father called out to him and he quickly ran inside.
Strong and Stoic
Strong and stoic, this lady was ready to almost carry us down the Sapa hills if we even looked as though we were struggling. Luckily, we remained in control of our limbs and made it to her home village. She was eager to show her handiwork, beautiful hand made bags, wallets and scarves.