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Vietnamese women’s friendliness amazed Canadian photographer
Jenna Duong 14:15, 2024/05/29
Vietnamese women's kindness, resilience and leadership captured a Canadian photographer's heart.

Canadian photojournalist Julie Anne Davies recently traveled across Vietnam on a motorbike. She was struck by everything from the incredibly beautiful mountain and forest scenery of Vietnam's northwestern mountainous area to the warmth of the local women.

 A woman walks past an old house in Hanoi Ancient Town, Quang Nam Province. Photo: Julie Anne Davies

Julie shared her feelings about the trip in a short article entitled "Through The Lens: Lessons On Love & Leadership From The Women Of Vietnam" on the popular travel website Travel + Leisure.

As Julie shared, she had spent decades traveling the world, visiting remote and challenging places. She always wants to connect with the local people and learn about the culture and lifestyle of the places she visits.

Vietnam is one of the destinations that has made a deep impression on Julie Anne Davies. She loves how the late afternoon rays transform the terraced mountainsides into scenes from mythical fairytales or how the air, thick with the lush scent of buckwheat and conifers, fills her wandering spirit with every breath.

“I recollect an overwhelming sense that this was a land of kindness, and even though I rode with no route in mind when community and the collective good are a way of life, there is no such thing as being lost or alone. You are in a culture where unannounced visits and chance encounters are met with open arms, wide grins, and shared cups of tea,” she wrote.

Julie Anne Davies' photograph of a woman at work in Bac Ha Market, Lao Cai Province.

As a photographer and a woman, Julie felt particularly and intrinsically drawn to observing and learning about women's lives in other cultures.

And "the gentle yet outgoing nature of Vietnamese women meant that this would be an easy and beautiful journey," she added.

As a photographer and woman traveler, Julie is particularly interested in observing and learning about women's lives in different cultures. When it comes to Vietnamese women, the photographer finds them to be extremely gentle and kind-hearted. Whenever she visited, they treated her so well. They invited her to participate in their work and even offered her tea in their homes.

In the northwestern mountainous area of Ha Giang Province, she met women from the Dao, Hmong, and Tay ethnic minorities, who, without hesitation, invited her to try her hand at weaving their delicate flower wreaths. "They even patiently taught me how to make their bamboo baskets," she wrote.

“The women I met in Mai Chau Plateau [of Son La Province] encouraged me to have a go at their wooden looms, giggling as they guided my clumsy fingers in the ways of their ancient crafts. I rode alongside women as they led their water buffaloes to rivers to drink, and watched in awe as women vendors in Hoi An butchered their own chicken and fish, bartering for top prices in the bustling markets,” Julie recalled.

 The marvelous scenery of Ha Giang Province. Photo: Denis Dep Trai Bissonnette

Anne had the opportunity to observe people going about their daily lives as she toured the northwestern mountains.
She witnessed women carrying towering loads of bamboo and firewood up mountainsides, while grandmothers sat in the shade telling stories that linked the past to the present, smoking from a water pipe or sipping rice wine.

Girls in the villages carried young siblings on their backs while their mothers harvested the fields, and enterprising women in the towns offered river boat tours and handcrafted intricate outfits.

"The women I met were kind, resourceful, strong and wise.  They were connected to tradition, the land, their families, their surroundings, and to a sense of place. This journey through Vietnam strengthened within me the already deep sense of wonder, appreciation, and awe that I feel for all women and our place in this world,” she wrote.

Motorcycle routes from the north to the south of Vietnam

Thanks to the ambitious road-building programs of the Vietnamese authorities, there is now a wide choice of routes to ride between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Vietnam Coracle presents some of the more conventional routes, suitable for both novice and experienced motorcyclists.

The Classic

Distance: 2,770km

Duration: 2-4 weeks

Destinations: Ho Chi Minh City, Mui Ne Beach, Central Highland’s Dalat City, Central coastal city of Nha Trang, Hoi An Ancient Town, the Hai Van Pass, Phong Nha Caves and Ninh Binh Province... Hanoi

Road Conditions: paved rural & coastal back-roads, new & old highways

Navigation: mostly simple, some tricky bits in central areas

Scenery: coast, highlands, mountains, limestone, cities, villages, cultural sites.

The Beach Bum

Distance: 2,050km

Duration: 10 days-3 weeks

Destinations: Ho Chi Minh City, Mui Ne, Nha Trang, Phan Rang, Cam Ranh, Quy Nhon and Phong Nha Cave... Hanoi

Road Conditions: new coastal highways, paved rural back-roads

Navigation: fairly simple, some tricky bits on the central coast

Scenery: coast, beaches, fishing villages, farmland, beach towns, cultural sites.

Ho Chi Minh Road

Distance: 1,880km

Duration: 10 days-2 weeks

Destinations: Ho Chi Minh City, Dat Mui, Ca Mau, Tan Ky, Tuy Loan, Cao Bang, Bac Kan... Hanoi.

Road Conditions: highways & paved mountain roads

Navigation: simple & straightforward for the majority of the route

Scenery: agricultural plateaus, mountains, limestone, minority villages, war vestiges.

The Easy Rider

Distance: 2,230km

Duration: 2-4 weeks

Road Conditions: good highways, some back-roads

Destinations: Ho Chi Minh City, Mui Ne, Nha Trang, Quy Nhon, Dalat and Kon Tum, Hoi An and Hue, Phong Nha Cave, Ninh Binh... Hanoi.

Navigation: easy to follow, a couple of tricky bits on the central coast

Scenery: mountains, farmland, coast, cities, fishing villages, cultural sites.

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