Country people of North Vietnam
It is almost impossible to shoot landscape photography in Vietnam and ignore the human element.
You see them in the terraced fields, mostly women and children, colorful figurines that dot the landscape, reminding you of how humans throughout the centuries have settled here and become an integral part of this spectacular natural beauty. For a Westerner trekking in this land, it is like coming back from the future.
As hotel infrastructure in these areas is non-existent, your only choice for accommodations is to lodge with a local family. As the sun sets, this home stay momentarily opens a window into their life. Sharing meals and the intimate space of their home, you are given access to their private lives, and you begin to understand something of their needs and character and philosophy of life.
The Vietnamese in the countryside, contrary to what I initially believed, are friendly and whole-hearted. They are happy, despite their harsh, primitive living conditions, which they do not seem willing to change. Thought is a luxury: the exhausting daily struggle for survival leaves little room to imagine a better life. It is as if they have surrendered their destiny and the realization of their deepest most personal needs to a higher power.
There may be a sense of timelessness in these photographs but change is afoot. The Vietnamese countryside is gradually being despoiled, and a centuries-old way of life is being challenged with the intrusion of mobile telephones, and wireless networks. A very different and unpredictable future awaits Vietnam’s young generation.