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Archive 2013 · Vietnam - The motorcycle diary
  
 
nightflower
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Vietnam - The motorcycle diary


May...

The rainy season has begun. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it rains every day, or would the earth be soaked in mud like what you probably have seen in some scenes relating to the Vietnam War. The frequency is around 2 times per week.

In an agricultural society like Vietnam where most of the countryside people depend on the cultivation of rice, rain brings life to the crop, rain brings livelihood. In the mountainous regions where little number of water reservoirs could be found, the rainy season is the only time of the year when rice could be grown. With hills patched by the terraced field, this season provokes inspiration among photographers around the country to capture the unique moment of the year. Thus, I gear up for the go. A bag of clothes, a bag of camera and an adventure spirit. I head for Yen Bai province - home to amazing rice fields in Vietnam.



I ride a Minsk, all bikers learn of Minsk’s existence in Vietnam – party because Vietnam is a communist country where Minsk found their way to around the 80s – 90s. Minsk are old folks that need nothing much apart from fuel, a can of oil for mixing with petrol and some spare parts just in case something falls apart from the bike. But above all Minsk is a spirit – a dream alike bike. It conveys an idea of socialism in some way.

The first day




The distance from Ha Noi – Nghia Lo (a main town of Yen Bai province) is around 200 km. Minsk doesn’t travel much more than 50 km/hrs, and a photographer on bike does not need anything faster. Additionally, the traffic density in Vietnam allow you to ride it your way, as long as you don’t move faster than 30 km/hr. Well, cut it short, it takes 1 day on Minsk to reach the hotel in Nghia Lo.

Pretty much one third of the distance is riding through urban areas, thus, I didn’t stop much. Only when the countryside appears in the golden light of sunset



Apart from that, most of my shots was done while…riding (well, there are 02 of us so that would not violate the traffic law)




Edited by JimFox on May 01, 2013 at 05:31 PM · View previous versions



May 01, 2013 at 04:23 PM
Ian Boys
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Vietnam - The motorcycle diary


lovely! reminds me of my honeymoon in that fantastic country.


May 01, 2013 at 04:28 PM
BenV
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Vietnam - The motorcycle diary


great collection! good story telling too. Almost felt like I was on the trip.


May 01, 2013 at 05:30 PM
nightflower
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Vietnam - The motorcycle diary




After a day riding and listening to the stone breaking sound of Minsk – a good shower and some moonshine at dinner is always appreciated. Food in this part of Vietnam is fresh and cheap, 25 dollar could buy 2 people a good dinner with one whole chicken served with rice.

Good night!

[B]Second day...[/B]

The morning was a bit foggy – well, hard to expect much better when the altitude starts to ascend. Some breakfast and a cup of tea, Minsk is ready for another day riding again.



The road from Nghia Lo to Tu Le is around 50 km, fenced by green hill and small tribal community peacefully rested in palm roof houses. We aimed for Tu Le directly but still, the scenery and people kept us several hours to finish 50 km. Lunch in Tu Le was a good treat with chicken (again) and the sticky rice. If you’re a fan of this type of rice, never skip a meal at Tu Le if possible, best sticky rice of the country could be found here.

Camera ready, soon after leaving Tu Le, a beautiful pass overlooking a green valley reached our sights.



We decided to go down the valley. Things gets clearer as we got closer. It was amazing capturing the local busy with the new season: Uprooting the seedlings, plowing and transplanting.




(to be continued...)



May 04, 2013 at 05:04 AM
nugeny
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Vietnam - The motorcycle diary


Keep it coming. Great story. Impressive images.
Bob



May 04, 2013 at 05:43 AM
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Vietnam - The motorcycle diary


Thanks for sharing, I'm ready for the next installment! This is great.


May 04, 2013 at 05:46 AM
nightflower
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Vietnam - The motorcycle diary


The local ladies – open and friendly to the lens of strangers:



I shot 02 pics and used “Merge” in Photoshop to merge them together:



Using tele lens to capture the people busy transplanting rice:



And some kind of mirror effect:




May 05, 2013 at 06:19 AM
plsand
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Vietnam - The motorcycle diary


HI -
Thanks for story, and Pictures - Great - More please -
Thanks -
Paul



May 05, 2013 at 10:36 AM
douter
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Vietnam - The motorcycle diary


Wonderful journalism nightflower! I would also like to see more.
Douglas



May 05, 2013 at 11:26 AM
nightflower
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Vietnam - The motorcycle diary


Little kid, half naked like most of the local kids here, followed his parents to the rice field:



Time to roll on. We arrived in Mu Cang Chai at dusk, check in a simple motel room and enjoyed a hot shower. Time for food and some moonshine again.

More and more terraced rice field:



My great admiration seeing the photos, not in the way of seeing a National Geographic shot, of course. But the amazing terraced field is the aftermath of hundreds of years of work from generation to generation. This is the only way by which water could be saved from hill top to valley.

Every corner here, there’s something to shoot, something to think and some stories to be read:



We came across Hung, a little boy in his 7th grade at school. Hung goes to school in the morning only. During this time of the year, he supports his family with farming works. In this far remote part of Vietnam, everyone in the family is supposed to work, more people means more labor. Well, some other parts of the world it is called child labor. Still, we got to go with the flow here, we take it as a cultural difference. He was pretty shy at first, but probably that made the picture more charming in some way.



...To be continued...



May 06, 2013 at 02:46 AM
 

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nightflower
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Vietnam - The motorcycle diary


Moving uphill, I captured a house in the middle of nowhere. It's quite interesting how far houses are from each other. Sometimes the next door neighbor is several miles away. This photo was merged from 02 smaller photos:



Later in the day, the cloud started to come. Well, it's ok, many great photos were actually shot in the rain, though. We got to sit down at a local tea shop (a very simple one). Time for a hot tea while looking at the cloud:



Rain came soon afterwards, followed by the happiness of the local. A grand mom slowly walk her kid, probably home. It seems the rain is just some pure water falling, they didn't even hurry up. Kids here may have best immune system in the world:



And the lovely blue sky with beautiful rainbow appears after the rain:




May 07, 2013 at 03:39 AM
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Vietnam - The motorcycle diary


Really beautiful photos. Great story. I really enjoyed reading and viewing.


May 07, 2013 at 06:50 AM
nightflower
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Vietnam - The motorcycle diary


The air became fresher. Me and my travel mate wondered in different directions. When we met up to hop on Minsk again, it was already at dusk. Last shot before the hotel shower, before the...moonshine. A fruitful day of shooting, of seeing and talking to the local. Well, after all, the most beautiful picture ever taken is by your eyes and mind.



Resting a bit on the way back to hotel, Minsk looks a bit tired, too:



[B]The fourth day...[/B]

A bit lazy in waking up, I still lied on my bed looking at the white ceiling of the hotel. My shoulders, my arms and my legs were sore, from riding Minsk - a super vibrating bike, and also from walking up and down hill, jumping from once rice field to the others. Well, we got to capture much. It's always good seeing more landscape and learning more about the life of people.

Noodle soup - everywhere you go in Vietnam you could find noodle soup for your breakfast. The Vietnamese seem to be lazy at breakfast and choose to eat something easy, takes less effort in chewing. For that reason noodle soup becomes the best choice one can have after getting up. We got some noodle, some tea, and ready to be on the go again.

We headed further to the North-Western part of the country, where where expected more to see and capture. This 48 km was a sweet part of the journey on Minsk



We didn't expect, but we got to see it: The great tea plantation. Yes, Vietnam, Japan, China...all share tea as their traditional drink. And this terrain - thousands meters above sea level is definitely an ideal place for great tea plantations. Tea covers hill tops, tea covers valleys...you can never drink this all:



Long time ago, tea was a part of the wilderness. When the market reached the place, tea became a commercial products, owned by business. The local people picked up tea as a part of their extra-income job. They are all farmers and when the farming is not busy, they come over, picked up tea and got paid at the end of the day. Set the commercial story aside, the tea plantation was a heaven for me capturing the local people picking up the leaves. They were all very, very friendly. When I held up the camera and asked to take picture, the common response was: No no, we are not beautiful, we are very humble looking. It took me a while explaining to them that they are among the most beautiful people, and indeed I meant:

...to be continued...

Edited on May 08, 2013 at 07:51 AM · View previous versions



May 08, 2013 at 04:16 AM
sachman
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Vietnam - The motorcycle diary


Awesome imagery and storytelling! I loved Vietnam on my visit, but it's so great to see through your eyes, parts of Vietnam that not many tourists get to see.


May 08, 2013 at 04:41 AM
nightflower
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Vietnam - The motorcycle diary




Snap short of a local girl while working:



And this is probably among the most beautiful smiles I have ever taken, in a really natural way. I told her I would come back and bring her a printed photo, and truly I will:



Here and there you could see the typical hats of the Vietnamese, especially ladies would wear this when working outdoor:




May 09, 2013 at 12:38 AM
nightflower
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Vietnam - The motorcycle diary


My 70-200 mm f/2.8 found its heaven just right here:



Another great day shooting, moving up and down hill. My Minsk seems to enjoy the tough terrain of this hilly area very much. She took gravel roads and steep terrain without any hesitation. She's resting a bit here:



Soon, sunset comes, the hills look amazing as the sun goes down:



[B]The fifth day[/B]

Waking up from a great night sleep. I was ready to be on the go again. I actually wanted to stay back for another day, get back to the beautiful tea plantation again for more shots. Additionally there were many beautiful villages dot around the hillsides that caught my sight. The night sleep there was amazing watching the hills fading at dusk...Well, there's never enough time for everything. I shall come back here again.




May 10, 2013 at 06:15 PM
AKdave
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Vietnam - The motorcycle diary


I was there in 1969-70. Taking away the aspects of war; I fell in love with the everyday people and the beauty of their country. Thank you for the amazing photographs and good memories.


May 11, 2013 at 02:50 AM
Sunny Sra
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Vietnam - The motorcycle diary


Awesome documentary! Well done...please keep it coming.


May 11, 2013 at 03:44 AM
nightflower
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Vietnam - The motorcycle diary


AKdave wrote:
I was there in 1969-70. Taking away the aspects of war; I fell in love with the everyday people and the beauty of their country. Thank you for the amazing photographs and good memories.


Thank you for your sharing, AKdave, it is very different by now but I'm glad that the beauty of many areas in the country still remains very much alike to what it was...



May 11, 2013 at 07:02 AM
scottam10
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Vietnam - The motorcycle diary


Beautiful storytelling, thank-you for sharing this journey


May 11, 2013 at 10:36 AM
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