Travel Thru’ The Lens: Central Vietnam with Etienne Bossot

Yes If you are wondering, this is my 2nd trip to Central Vietnam this year after doing my own trip to Hoi An. This trip however is different. I get to go explore Hue City with An, my guide from the previous trip. This was followed by a weekend workshop as a co-instructor with Etienne Bossot, an author with Digital Photo School or DPS as we in photography known them as and he runs his photography workshop from Hoi An under Etienne Bossot Photography, Hoi An Photo Tour/Workshop and Pics of Asia Website. I was honoured that I was invited and we were joined by Photographers from Malaysia, Singapore (UK), Hong Kong and Thailand (UK).

The one thing most photographers should do is to actually spend a bit of money for the local guides to bring you to places where tourists themselves won’t go. When I was with Alaska in 2010, I have Tom Garner driving us around the Alaskan reserves catching bald headed eagle and grizzly bears hunting trouts by the river side. It was a fun time then.

This time round, we followed Etienne through parts of Hoi An, Lang Co and Phu Luc that no tourists would really explore short of Hue City. Still it was a pretty hectic schedule but what you do want is not to sleep but to really go out there to shoot. And when you do go out and shoot, what you want is to capture the most glorious light that nature can provide. Yes. That would mean sunrise and sunset and the blue hour before and after the event.

This trip I managed to squeeze in a bit of time to capture the place and also have opportunities to help those around me if they do ask questions. I dare say the places that Etienne brought us to can be challenging but a photo that was captured with fair bit of effort usually will provide fodder for stories. You may get wet, got smoky, sweat a lot and also tired because you woke up early but at the end of the whole trip, within your camera are memories worth keeping.

Here are some of my photos that was pretty memorable and you can see the rest from my Huawei P9 mobile phone and my trusty X-E1 from this album.



Hoi An

Old Town Hội An, is recognized as an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century, its buildings and street plan reflecting a unique blend of influences, indigenous and foreign. Prominent in the city’s old town, is its covered “Japanese Bridge,” dating to the 16th-17th century. I would say this is the closest contemporary of the port of Malacca and you can see the influence of Chinese and Japanese culture on the locals.  To me Hoi An is basically street photography heaven. No doubt the influence of tourists brought by the fame of UNESCO has altered the scene and authenticity of the town, there are still pockets of the real in and around Hoi An.

Packing up at the end of a long night.
One thing that has lost a lot of significance because of tourism is the floating candles. Peddlers of these candles can be seen throughout the town every night. If these are done during a festive season such as Thailand’s Loy Krathong it will hold a be a much more significant meaning act.
The true face of Hoi An is shown when the number of tourists has dwindled.
The locals burning offerings during the 1st and 15th day of the lunar month.

After all the hustle and bustle of the day, the market is once again quiet only to prepare for another day of business.

Hoi An’s Fishermen

These huge stadium lights is used to attract fishes towards the boats and their nets.
There are big boats and small sampans.
Sorting the catch of the day.
Vietnamese Coracles among the giants. These Vietnamese crafts are used by the locals for variety of activities.

He makes the Coracles around the area and is Etienne’s favourite subject.

Hoi An’s Farming Community

They are frying barley to make a very nice biscuit.
Village elder

The Market

Light from the bulb and the sunlight from the roof. Preparing the noodle.

Further afield – Lang Co and Phu Luc

If you travel much further from the tourist traps, you will see the real side of the Central Vietnam. Here you will see fishermen in their villages and if you are in the area during certain time of the month, the milkyway will make its appearance for all to see thanks to significantly darker environment afforded by the area.

Hue City

If you want to see the old Vietnam along with the old Nguyen Dynasty, Hue is the place to go. Hue is the national capital from 1802 -1945 with the Palace/Citadel sitting north of the Huong River. The modern city is sitting south of the Citadel. The whole city is now recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site.


The Food

The Noodles
Toufu Fa with gula melaka laced with ginger.
Sort of Fish Curry.

Bun Bo Hue. Hue’s version of Pho! Super super nice.

Banh Mi
The traditional Pho
Something like hotplate tofu with beef and beef ball and egg. Superb breakfast.
Hue’s version of Chwee Kway Banh Beo
Hue’s BBQ pork.
Banh Khoai

The Group.

Daphne Wong, James Yuen, Etienne, Julie, Cheok Hor, Crystal, Jack Jie Perng, Christine Lim, Nigel Loh, Jeannie, Barry Ong


More about Etienne Bossot


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