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Photographer's Note

"Hey you," this strong man shouted at me in Vietnamese. Or was it in the language of the Hmong? Or maybe he belonged to another one of the hill tribes that populate the far north of the country. I felt like an illiterate and smiled like Dumbo.

Yet his face was easy to read. Why don't you take a picture of me? I'm strong and healthy and proud of everything I am, and I think you should take my picture. Why don't you?

I'll stand here right in front of you with this very heavy sack on my back and I'll stare straight into that little camera of yours. Look, I'll even smile if you want.

The weight is immense, but it won't break my back and I'll stand still for as long as you want me to. Just take that picture, will you?

I obliged, mumbled a humbled "thank you" in Vietnamese in return, assuming he'd understand. Still not entirely sure whether he spoke any Vietnamese at all and whatever, he wasn't a man of many words anyway.

Then I gave him my biggest smile in return, implying the photo session was over. I then complemented him on his strength in sign language. He grunted, then turned his back and disappeared back into the crowd.

Two worlds met, for how long? A minute perhaps, maybe two or three? Who counts minutes when there's an eternity hidden in every second? Some things last forever.

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THIS PICTURE was taken at Lung Phin market in Ha Giang province in the north of Vietnam.

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Additional Photos by Benny Verbercht (BennyV) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2815 W: 35 N: 5734] (30602)
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