A few weeks ago I decided it was time to start the year with a little bike trip. My fiancée Ngan, her friend, and fellow photojournalist Thomas Cristofoletti who was visiting from Cambodia, loaded up some Suzuki 150 bikes on the train out of Saigon and hit the road, or tracks as it were. A short 3 hours and some later, we offloaded the bikes off at the coastal city of Phan Thiet, which is an infinitely better way to get through those first 250km on boring and dangerous highways. Within a few minutes after rolling past all the hotels, we were on a road like this one, taking in sweeping views of the coast. It was an awesome feeling and a great start!
Below are a few handfuls of images and maybe a quick story or two of the things I found. Warning: there’s a lot of boats and water below, so hope you’re not prone to seasickness!
We stopped in a fishing village called Hoa Phu, where a decently large ship repair dry dock made for some nice scenes.
Ladies in dingys ferried the fisherman and their supplies out to the larger fishing boats moored in the harbor.
The lady pictured above was named ‘Me Tu’, translated as mother number 4. She was incredibly friendly, even to the point of dragging me away from my shooting to make me sit for a coffee and introduce me to her friends who were playing some kind of Chinese card game. Of course I obliged and it was actually nice to get out of the sun for a few minutes!
A few more from the shipyard below…
A young boy worked to apply the fiberglass coating on the rudder of a ship. The smell of the glue was quite strong and fiberglass flying everywhere, and I’m sure they should be wearing masks or something, but alas…
From here we headed on up the road, finally reaching the coastal town of Ca Na, where we would lay our heads for the night, getting there just in time to catch the last few minutes of the sun.
After a delicious seafood dinner on the beach at a place owned by a friend of mine in Saigon, we heard people singing karaoke on the beach and I went to check it out. They had a computer and tv and all dragged out on to the sand. I pretty much despise karaoke, but it did kinda look like fun in these environs!
The next morning, we were up with the sun to see what kind of action and frames could be found around the water.
A man beautifies himself after waking up on a boat in Ca Na harbor.
Men and women work to untangle fishing nets, a daily and tedious task, made all the more fun I’m sure by the scorching sun.
After we had had enough of the fish market scenes, we headed back to our hotel, where Ngan and I wanted to start doing a few pre-wedding shots. As she’s infinitely more photogenic than I, I kept the lens pointed toward her most of the time, but, Thomas was also kind enough to snap a few frames of us together. We intend to travel around Vietnam in the coming months, and continue this project wherever we find cool locales to shoot.
It reads ‘caution’ in Vietnamese. I hope it’s not an omen for our future…:)
After we had enough photos of ourselves, we hit the bikes again and headed on up to Phan Rang city, passing by Mui Dinh, a rural beach hidden behind a large sand dune. There was a place across the street with dune buggies for rent, so how can you not! Especially when it was only about 30 bucks for all of us for a few hours. The driver took us up to the lighthouse, which sits at the top of a big hill. And thank God, cause I don’t think I would have made the steep walk up in the heat! But they he let us drive around the sand a bit, and as you can imagine, it was all kinds of fun!
There was a big family, or maybe a few related families, who reside on the beach, and were working non-stop to get their fishing nets back in order. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this would give me a massive headache if I had to do it everyday! But it does make for nice photos sometimes 🙂
It was just after this I had to head back to Saigon for an assignment for The Washington Post in the Mekong Delta the next morning. It was a great few days on the road taking in some sunshine and coastline. I can’t wait to do it again!