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Photographer's Note

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H’mong Beauty

Most of the time, shooting a face-to-face picture of a minority people in Sa Pa is not that easy and convenience, as I had a little experience during my first visit to the area that has been posted on Dec 01, 2004. [I wouldn’t say that all photographers will encounter this same situation — but at least while I was there. I discovered that I was wrong not too long: they don't invite you for photo-taking, they don't smile to your lens. When they see you point your camera toward them, they cover their faces with scarf, or hide the head in hands, or close eyes — whatever way to discourage you. The reaction is toward the other photographer in front of me — not me. Not sure what she had in mind and not too safe, I quickly walked away, after clicking this picture.]

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But this time I was lucky to be close to this 16-year-old young lady, because Thien asked me to deliver a package of gift to this “sister” (that he bought from Louang Prabang, Lao and taking back to Montreal, shipping down to Houston, Texas... then it followed me through Hong Kong, Kunming and Yuanyang before reaching destination). I was her messenger and she became my guide. And I shot this while sitting inside her hut answering her mom’s questions about Thien, and she was taking care of the hairdo nearby.

This is a minority tribe where children don’t have an ID or birth certificate. Their lives are cemented to farm, to forest, to rice or timber. They transport on their own feet and live in the darkness. Coming to their houses, you would conclude they are lack of basic condition of human life. Only a small percentage of them who has the opportunity to sit in a classroom or to ride a vehicle. Radio, TV, microwave, oven, newspaper, cellular phone, doctor, hospital or theater are something as abstract as satellite or laser guided weapons to them…

Having less necessity, they don’t have to race toward convenience and luxury as in an industrial and civilized world. They don’t worry about bills, debts, housing, car and insurance. Maybe the absence of such anxieties gives them longer life, and happier laughs. Maybe the secret and philosophy of a happy life has been destroyed by our own hands.

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So, this is for you first, Thien. She asked me to inform you that she is getting marry soon after her next 16th Birthday (as the current Vietnamese marital laws have nothing to do with the natural way they live).

And next, for all of you to share with me a close-up beauty of my country.


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Additional Photos by Ngy Thanh (ngythanh) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 471 W: 125 N: 2332] (8458)
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