3 days in Central Vietnam with Pics of Asia

At the end of June I had the pleasure of co-teaching the Central Vietnam Workshop with Pics of Asia’s Etienne Bossot. We spent 3 days waking up at the crack of dawn, and going to some of the best locations around Hoi An and Hue to shoot. It was a great time, and even as co-teacher of the tour, I learned a lot from everyone who came along. All in all, I feel like all of the students came out with some great shots, and I hope they gained something to keep them motivated in photography.

Not only were the places we visited amazing, we got to know the people through Etienne and his knowledge of Vietnamese culture and language. He would always make small talk with locals in Vietnamese, informing us about what they said, and helping us visitors get to know their stories. That aspect really shaped my experience of the tour. It is one thing to take pictures, but another to learn about what you are documenting.

So, enough with the words. Here are some of my favorite photos I took during the workshop.

Day 1: Around Hoi An

women at fish market hoi an

Women pictured at the fish market near Hoi An.

Traders unloading fish from a boat vietnam

Traders unloading fish from a boat.

An old woman looking for fish as it is unloaded from the boats vietnam

An old woman looking for fish as it is unloaded from the boats. If the post wasn’t behind her, wouldn’t it be the perfect photo?

Ice being prepared to package fresh caught fish hoi an

Ice being prepared to package fresh caught fish.

fisherman smoking vietnam hoi an

A fisherman smokes on as boat as the sun rises.

ice making shop hoi an

An ice making shop near the fish market close to Hoi An.

fish sauce factory vietnam hoi an

Inside a fish sauce factory at the same fish market.

breakfast shop hoi an vietnam

A view of a local breakfast shop inside the fishing village.

Hoi An is an ancient Vietnamese town, which 5 years ago may not have been so touristy as it is now, but you can only show it in its true modern form if you are me. I actually found the tourists to be an interesting feature of the place.

tourists make selfies in hoi an

Tourists make selfies inside the old town of Hoi An. What makes this old town investing are the bright colors painted on the old buildings. It is the perfect scene to frame your subjects in.

tourists in Hoi An look at their smart phones.

Tourists pictured near the river in Hoi An.

buffalo rests in water in vietnam

A man lets his buffalo rest in the water on a very hot afternoon in the outskirts of Hoi An old town.

riding a bicycle in rural vietnam

Bicycle riders made into a panning shot.

taking a nap near hoi an

A man naps at the side of the river on the outskirts of Hoi An.

herding cattle on a road vietnam

A man herds his cattle down the street.

Day 2: Hoi An and Lang Co 

conical hat in vietnam

A woman wearing a conical hat inside the traditional market

Women bargaining for fish.

Here I was playing with my background. Luckily, this lady in violet walked by…

meat sellers in hoi an

Meat sellers in the market.

A man sells shampoo and other toiletries in a market stall.

woman with puppies vietnam

A woman shows us her puppies. I like her hat.

That afternoon we took a van to Lang Co Bay to see people working on and around the lake. There was some activity inside the lake, and we found one woman searching for clams near the edge of the water. Shortly after we were drenched by a fast moving storm.

woman fishing lang co bay

A woman fishes for clams inside the waters of Lang Co Bay.

men ride motorbike in rain vietnam

After a heavy rainfall, two men drive past on their motorbike.

A woman carries recycled items after a heavy rain.

The other great part of the tour was the food. We were able to eat at the best local restaurants with Etienne who already knows which dishes to order. The second night of the tour was at a local joint in the town near Tam Giang Lagoon. Anyways, it was the best Vietnamese food I have tried, but I don’t remember where it was, so you’ll have to join the tour to find out.

Day 3: Tam Giang Lagoon

We woke up at 4 am to be at Tam Giang Lagoon before sunrise. Some of the most interesting activity was already underway when we got there.

fisherman unloading equipment vietnam

A fisherman unloads equipment from his boat after a night of fishing on Tam Giang Lagoon.

tying a knot to fasten the boat

A girl and her mother land their boat on the shore of Tam Giang Lagoon.

Swan hang out on the bank of the lagoon while fishermen work.

Kids dumping trash in the rubbish pile.

A woman washes clothes on a fishing boat.

The owner of a breakfast shop at work.

The colors in this town are incredible, but then again, the colors all over Vietnam are like this. Every little town has something special.

Boys playing in front of their home

Boys playing in front of their home.

A boy pictured in front of a shrine.

A boy pictured in front of a shrine

After our shooting in Tam Giang, we headed back to Hoi An to show the photos we made during the workshop. It was good to see what the others had shot and I was pleased at the quality of work our students had achieved.  All in all I had a great time during this workshop, and a great experience sharing my love for photography with the students on the trip.

On the Pics of Asia webpage it says Pics of Asia is the best photography tour in Asia, and of course one might think, “yeah sure.” It is definitely a bold statement. However, I do really believe that Etienne’s tours are unique in that he has a huge enthusiasm for photography which he shares with his students. It was an awesome tour from my perspective. Instead of jabbering on about this and that regarding photography, Etienne shoots with you and helps keep you inspired about the place you are in. Together with his location scouting and connection to the locals, it makes the tour so worthwhile for the price he asks. If you look at his prices for the Central Vietnam tour and compare them with competing high end tours you can see Etienne isn’t in it for the money. You can’t just turn up to Vietnam as a tourist and start making amazing photos, it takes time and knowledge of where to go and how to get along with the locals. So yeah, I do agree that his travel photography workshops are some of the most awesome and best in Asia. Check it out next time you are planning a trip to Asia.

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