This is one of my favorite pictures that never made it onto 366 pictures. In fact, it just might be one of my favorite pictures ever!

Vietnam flower ladies

I was in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and I had but a few hours to explore the city. With such a limited time frame I employed a local guide to take me around on a moped so I could get a taste of the place.

My guide didn’t speak English, and I don’t speak Vietnamese, so I used Google translate to ‘speak’ with him. I spoke into my iPod and it would display my words in Vietnamese on the screen. I had used this technique of communication successfully with other people, notably a street barber that I featured in another shot. However, my guide would often just squint at the screen on the iPod in apparent confusion.

I didn’t want to rush around to all the tourist hot-spots like some rabid robo-tourist on a cultural bender. Instead I simply wanted to ride around, and see places where I could observe the daily lives of ordinary people. My guide didn’t understand this though, so for much of the morning he would take me to churches, temples, and museums, usher me in the place then wander off lighting a cigarette. In the end I had to call my couchsurfing host and have her translate my words to him.

I wanted to see the mopeds the city is famous for, and he clearly wanted to be as far from that chaotic traffic as he could be. But reluctantly he did eventually take me around, allowing me to simply point the direction, and signal where to stop. My photo choices puzzled and amused him, but after a while he got into the swing of it, and started to show me places ‘off the trail.’

The photograph of the flower ladies was taken at a busy market somewhere, though to be honest I really have no idea where. I saw them and I asked if I could take a picture. They didn’t object but instead spoke to one another and laughed. I have no idea what they were saying, but I can guess. The lady in the middle attempted to hide from the camera while the other laughed at her. It was a fun moment and I really like the shot for the expressions on their faces as well as the deep colors of the flowers around them.

Mopeds in SiagonIt pained me not to use this picture, but that day I was in search of a very specific photograph of Ho Chi Minh City, and in the end I got just the shot I was looking for. It showed hundreds of mopeds at a stop light with streams of other mopeds coming down the road behind them. That photograph really captures the madness of the traffic in the city, where crossing the road is as much a test of courage as it is a challenge.

In the relatively shot time I was in Vietnam, I took some of my favorite pictures of the year. It’s a truly beautiful country that should be on any travellers ‘must-see’ list.