A healthy exchange in Hoi An, Vietnam or why this woman gave me the finger!

A healthy exchange in Hoi An, Vietnam or why this woman gave me the finger!

A healthy exchange in Hoi An, Vietnam or why this woman gave me the finger!


I mentioned in a previous post Why this photograph made my “Top 20” list of best photos from Southeast Asia about a top 20 list. This photo I made of this street vendor in Hoi An, Vietnam made the list because I got the finger!

Let me explain.

Hoi An is located on the coast of the South China Sea in central Vietnam. Hoi An was an important Vietnamese trading center in the 16th and 17th centuries and as a result it is a mixture of Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese and French architecture. In 1999 the old town was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Hoi An is Vietnam’s answer to Disneyland. It is like a group of Vietnamese imagineers (Disney speak for designers and engineers) came together to design a quintessential, fairy tale town full of bright yellow buildings, glowing silk lanterns, historical assembly halls (Chinese temples), tailor shops where you can have custom made suits made within 24 hours and the best sunrises and sunsets in the country. In summary, this place was made for photographers. If there is a more photogenic city in Vietnam than Hoi An, I did not see it in my two months of travel in the country.

The old town of Hoi An is small enough to walk around or rent a bicycle like I did. I found the best time to photograph was around sunset at the riverfront. The yellow buildings would have an ephemeral glow from the late afternoon light.

Did I say this place was made for photographers?

In Hoi An you do not need to look for photo opportunities, they come to you!

Simply position yourself by one the bright, yellow buildings and wait for a desired subject to enter your frame. Something or somebody interesting will pass by every 15 to 30 seconds.

Now I do have to mention that in old town Hoi An it is inundated with the “photo one dollar” spiel from many of the women street vendors. Walking around the riverfront at sunset with my Canon 5D Mark II at my side served as a magnet for them.

So this woman approached me and gave me the finger (no, not that one). She lifted one finger for “photo one dollar.”

I said I would buy a banana from here after I take her photo. I directed her to stand at an angle where I could catch the best light and where I could have those yellow buildings in the background.

Afterwards, she handed me ALL the bananas in her basket and I handed over more than just “one dollar.”

In the end I got a custom postcard with great light, a perfect background and a happy subject!

Hoi An, Vietnam is the perfect place to fuel your creativity and to load up on your potassium!

Check back for more of my adventures in Vietnam!

Happy Travels!

Text and photo copyright by ©Sam Antonio Photography

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Taken on: 24th April, 2012. Copyright: All Rights Reserved - See Sam Antonio Photography's page of Flickr

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