“Clean soft white beach sand, Channel perfume #5, amazing Spa Treatments, Luxe Accommodation, Crisp white linen suits, dark mahogany furniture, panama hats, Cuban cigars, Rum and Coca Cola.. I’m a Colonial Romantic”, says Jean Wethmar.. who discovered Vietnam, and fell in love again!
From the tree lined boulevards brimming with her million of mopeds, and amazing cafe culture, to the markets or the quiet beaches.. to the cites humming with bargains.. Vietnam’s charms amaze! In this vignette on Vietnam Jean tells us of her meeting with Mai Loc, a Vietnamese photographer and his inspiring story.
Vietnam’s colors are brighter – more alive, from alluring silks found on Dong Khoi street Saigon, to every water lily that opens daily, her architecture oozes colonial charms, the humble buffalo is still used for mundane chores every day, where simply crossing the road is a huge challenge – and each day I discover more
Our connecting flight from Saigon to Nha Trang was delayed. I had an appointment with a local photographer in Nha Trang, and I was going to be late! Drat! The sun was overhead, I had to get there soon, I was anxious. Eventually we arrived at Ana Mandara Six Senses hotel late afternoon. I dumped my bags in my stunning room. I could investigate the beach, my amazing room, my bed, the rain shower outside all later, right now I had my appointment to meet Mai Loc.
Mai Loc is a local Vietnamese photographer. Shu, made it on time, he was waiting in the foyer of my hotel. He handed me a helmet and led me to his moped. Oh gosh! jip.. this is it Jean! Helmet on, onto the back of his bike, off we sped. Me clinging to this total stranger whom I’d never had more than ten words with.
Now a bit more about this scenario. My dad had often warned me of getting on the back of a moped when I was much younger, but this was so different! Here I was in Vietnam, fast approaching my very senior years, wind smarting my eyes, not being able to ask him anything due to lack of English, and wind in my ears and eyes. For all I knew he could be ‘kidnapping’ me and my camera! Had I lost my marbles or was it the hidden charms of Vietnam which had beguiled me?
Yes, yes, yes, totally! Mai took me 35km to a fishing village where the fishing vessels had just arrived and some were preparing to leave for a week at sea. A vibey, noisy, fish reeking pier, pumping with excitement and bargaining. A pier filled with water and fish slivering about. A pier filled with local Vietnamese people, but oh gosh, what an experience! My camera went into overdrive. I was like a child in a candy store not knowing which image to shoot first!
Thank you Mai for being such a gentleman and showing me a window into your world. Oh I love to travel! The bamboo boats which are so unique throughout Vietnam. Next time I’m there I intend meeting a man who makes these unique boats!
PS. I ruined my shoes I had on, thanks to the fish oils but this was a small price to pay for such an adrenalin filled moped ride plus the wonderful chance meeting I had with the locals and Mai!