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On Assignment: Vietnam, with Photojournalist Kenji Kwok

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On an assignment for F Stop Lounge, Photojournalist and Documentary photographer Kenji Kwok explores Mekong Delta and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to document the daily lives of the locals and to learn more about its beautiful culture.

Mekong Delta

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49-year-old Boat Lady Huỏng steering her boat along the Mekong River in Vietnam. Her work is very tough especially in the scorching hot afternoon sun, but she said she still loves her job very much even though it might not pay well.
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A local smoking onboard a boat while looking out to the Mekong River, Vietnam.
A local looks out of her boat at the Mekong River while others are getting ready in the morning.  They would often hang fruits, vegetables, and other produce on a long bamboo stick that is attached to their boat, so as to show customers what they will be selling at the Floating Market.
A local looks out of her boat at the Mekong River while others are getting ready in the morning.
They would often hang fruits, vegetables, and other produce on a long bamboo stick that is attached to their boat, so as to show customers what they will be selling at the Floating Market.
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A Vietnamese lady selling Cà Phê (Vietnamese Coffee) on her boat at the Mekong River, Vietnam.
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Morning scene at Cai Be, Floating Market at the Mekong River, Vietnam.
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Villagers of ÂṔ NHỎN PHÚ waiting for their breakfast to be served at the rice noodle soup stall.

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Every morning, 40-year-old Mdm Lê Tḥi Hiên cooks and sells the best Hủ Tiếu (Rice noodle soup) in the village. She will then proceed to work in the fields in the afternoon. Their village can be accessed through the Mekong River.
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A boy studying at the entrance of his house in a village along the Mekong River in Vietnam.
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Street scene in Can Tho, Vietnam.
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Street scene in Can Tho, Vietnam.
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26-year-old Nguyêñ Ngoc̣ Quyên (Wing) graduated from Can Tho University, where she majored in Tourism. She studies French in order to understand the French tourists on the tours that she leads. It is only through this job that she gets the opportunity to practise the language.

 

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Wing’s mother tending the pigs in a large sty in the center of their house. Even though they rear pigs at home, Wing said her family treats them as pets and will not eat them. If they wish to, they would purchase pork from their neighbours.
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Most of the people in the village own motorbikes instead of cars, including Wing’s family, whose father has to buy and transport 100kg worth of rice from the nearest market in a single trip. The rice will be be fermented to produce rice wine that serves as another source of income for their family.
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Wing’s father resting on a makeshift hammock in their living room. Hammocks are very common in Vietnamese homes as well as shops outside that offer a place to rest, on top of selling coffee and other drinks.
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Wing’s family also grows their own fruits for both consumption and sale. Previously they planted rambutans and this year they are going to try planting oranges, in hope that the harvest would be able to fetch more money.
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Most Vietnamese families have a photo of Hồ Chí Minh on their walls. Many of the villagers also pay Wing’s father a visit whenever they have illnesses that do not go away quick enough, where he would proceed to carry out a ritual with a fee.

Ho Chi Minh City

 

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Street Vendor on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City at night.
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A child beggar carrying her baby brother in her arms on the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
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A boy checks the authenticity of a note against the lights of a street store at Bến Thành Market, Ho Chi Minh City.
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Students waiting outside a local school in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
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Street scene in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
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A bus attendant looks out the window to ensure that everyone has boarded the bus before driving off.
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Street scene in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

 

Vietnam is a beautiful country for all to photograph because of its hospitality and no shortage of interesting people. It’s a brilliant place to put your street photography into good use and don’t hesitate to ask and learn more about your subjects, especially if you have a guide that could help you translate.

Most Vietnamese people are more than happy for you to photograph them, but be sure to thank them with a smile after that — A good practice that you should inculcate for anyone else that you photograph.