30 August 12
Posted at 5:40
My favourite experience on my recent travels was the couple of days I spent in Hoi An. I wish I could have stayed there longer. Although I enjoyed everything about Hoi An it was the few hours spent with Etienne Bossot on an early morning photo tour that I enjoyed most of all. We arrived in Hoi An about 5 pm one afternoon. Whilst making an initial exploration of the little town (sussing out the bars and restauarnts!) I noticed a pamphlet advertising Hoi An Photo Tour. The tours ran in the early morning and evening (the sun bleaches everything out after 8am until around 4pm). As the following day was the only time I was free it seemed unlikely I'd be able to go and as it was so late i the day I was sure the following morning would be booked - if it was runing at all. I phoned Etienne to be advised the following day's tour was fully booked, however two people were yet to confirm so to call back in about an hour. Exactly 60 minutes later I called again and to my delight we could be accomodated. I took Brazillian George who I had met on my travels along as he had an interest in photography.
So Etienne picked us up at 0415 as arranged the previous evening. I was keen to go on this tour as it's difficult to force yourself to get up at 0400 to go out shooting, on your own, when you have no transport and little idea where you are or where to go. Having a photographer, living locally with transpot as a guide is just brilliant. So we picked up a few more togs around town, a mixture of abilities and equipment from pros to absolute beginners and top of the range DSLRs to iPhones. We then drove out of town to a quay to pick up a ferry boat to take us to the place where the fisherman brought their overnight catches in to be sold and distributed. We had a briefing by the boat and set off as the sun began to rise (which is quite a rapid affair in these parts).
My first shot is from the ferry as we neared our landing point. A couple fishing from a boat in front of a traditional Chinese fishing net.
Etienne is an amazing photogpher, self taught and from what I gathered since he has been in Vietnam. He is really modest about his capabilities. He is an excellent tutor - most on the tour were inexperinced amatuers - Etienne was so, so patient with everyone ensuring all had understood his tips and advice. No mean feat as Etienne is French and the ten of us on the tour were made up of Dutch, Danish, Brazillian, German, British and a token Aussie. Although there would be a massive range of subjects to choose from I was particularly interetsed in photographing the people ( I was tiring of everyone you met in the touristy areas immediaty posing and gesturing as soon as they saw a camera.) So to mix with locals at a place tourists rarely venture to was a great opportunity.
As soon as we landed I spotted this lady enjoying the early morning sun.
Soon after another really interesting face. This is the iceman. He freezes massive blocks of ice which he then slides along wooden runways into the fishing boats. See below.
Ice being loaded
There was an abundance of interesting characters to chat (well at least smile) to..
The Coracle Builder
His mate with a long goatie
and a lady in shades
Not everyone was old and wrinkled - here's a fisherman who looks pleased with his nights work
and there were children around every corner
Some full of confidence..
and others a little shy
I had come here to see the process of the, mainly women, collecting fish from the mainly male fishermen.
Here's a group inspecting the catch
and here's the fishermen sorting the nets
This fisherman's a man after my own heart - it's 7am so time for a flutter
and his mate hasn't sold too many fish so has to be content with a ciggie
Meanwhile the ladies are busy buying and selling fish and carting them off everywhichway. Everywhere you look all sorts of fish are being laid out to dry in the quickly warming sun
We spent a most enjoyable time, we visited the place where fish sauce is made locally (may be the feature of a future blog), we ate street food which was delicious and after returning on the ferry we rounded the morning off with a bike ride back into Hoi An - in time for breakfast.
If you find yourself in Vietnam and you have any sort of interest in photography at what ever level or even if you just want to see the real local culture give Etienne a call. He also runs longer photography tours both in Vietnam and Laos. And last of all if you are thinking of getting married in Vietnam (not a bad idea as you can get a lovely wedding dress knocked up for next to nothing in just a couple of days) check Etienne out for your wedding photography.
To finish off a couple more photos from the tour
The fleet at rest and all packed up, and it's still before 8am
On the way back to the ferry - harvesting from a coracle
Well Etienne's tour was a great start to the day and that eveing at sunset I rounded off with another nice portrait - but this was in town and cost me a dollar!!
...was worth it though!