While China now represents our future for the next year, it was time for me to come back to our months in the South East of Asia. I would have loved to include many more countries, our trip only included a few : Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia and, let’s be honest, Portraits of Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia is a bit of a mouth full ! So I will keep it simple.
I haven’t put much online in almost a month. I do not know if it’s because of the new job that we have, our new life settling in China or if I just suddenly had difficulty to keep interest in updating our blog, considering that with us travelling less there would then be less to say. But when I sat this weekend in front of my computer, flicking through my photos, I realised that I left a lot out of the blog, a lot of things that did matter to me. So I guess there is still a lot of work to do ! I first decided that the faces of those people we met were the ones that touched me the most and made me want to share with you my passion for travelling.
The people you meet on the road can change your life, make you feel humble again. This is how those people changed me and how I hope they still will.
Portraits of Vietnam.
When we landed in Vietnam I was terrified. I couldn’t admit it to my friends and family that were, too, scared after we announced our decision to leave for Asia but I just didn’t know how this trip would work out. A 3 months visa in our pockets, ready to look for a motorbike, the tales of fellow travellers kept coming back to me. I can still hear some of them tell us « Vietnamese people aren’t nice, they’ll try to steal from you, they’ll want your money but that’s all ! ». I was really wondering if picking Vietnam first was a smart decision.
It didn’t take long for the country to prove me wrong. On our first trip on our « new » motorbike, on the road to Dalat, on a hill, our lovely new transport stopped. Behind us a truck… The only thing coming through my head was « We are in so much trouble, he is gonna be so mad ! ». The truck stopped, the door slammed and there, next to us was a lovely man smiling at us and offering his help. He offered to take us and the bike to Dalat, tried to help as much as he could, and in only a few minutes I was happy to discover such a friendly country.
The stories didn’t stop at this first encounter, kindness kept coming our way, we shared so much with people despite the language barrier and it didn’t take long for Vietnam to make it as one of our favourite countries.
Portraits of Thailand.
We arrived in Thailand through a strange period. Protests were roaring in the capital and the country was, again, at a turning point. This wasn’t our first time in the country, after all we met in Bangkok a few years back and this is the place that inspired me to travel.
So Thailand was not a surprise. Amazing people, food, sights, it’s difficult to not like something about this place !
The experiences, again, were amazing. The people, again, friendly. When people talk about Thailand as the « Land of Smiles » they are not lying. The best moment we had were probably in the smaller towns we visited. If I did not write them down I would not remember the name of all those towns but I can recall with no hesitation the faces of the people we shared moments with. I remember the old lady selling the most amazing corn on a stick near one of our hotel. I remember the cop who took his entire day off to help us fix our motorbike, I remember those 2 sisters that brought us to their local market and made us eat the most amazing green curry I ever had, It’s all stuck in my head.
Portraits of Cambodia
This one will be shorter. We made it to Cambodia for a month and our first experience at the border wasn’t very pleasant. Left to our own device, without our bike, stuck on the other side of the border, it seemed difficult to appreciate the place. It became even harder when people kept on trying to scam us again and again.
I did not get the best feeling about this country until we reached Kampot. Lovely and sleepy town, the encounters and the people there surely made me appreciate the area much more. You can’t have a love story with every country you visit after all ! My portraits were fewer and I cannot share much of this part of South East Asia with you all.
Portraits of Laos
When I think we almost discarded Laos. A stop for our visa, that’s all it was supposed to be. And that’s where I met so many faces that would mark me for the rest of my life.
Laos is where we met the Yao a tiny hill tribe who survive by the strength of their community, it’s also where people shared with us everything they had even if it was not much just because we were in front of their doorstep.
Maybe there is not as much to see in Laos as there is in many other surrounding countries but if it’s people you love meeting then come and be amazed. I felt happy, humbled by each encounter. The young monks of Luang Prabang trying to learn more about us and our countries, the old lady offering me shelter in her home when it started raining, the Yao tribesmen inviting us to join in thier drinking game competition. I am happy we did not discard Laos. This is probably the country that brought me closer to the understanding that my passion was not only travel but also people. That photographing people made me happy.
Portraits of Yunnan
While Yunnan is in China I like to consider it as a part of our South East Asia adventure. A bit like Vietnam, China was a country I was a bit scared of. Tales were, again, numerous of people feeling lonely, not sharing much with the locals… Well, It was almost like we visited another China ! I never had so many conversations with locals while travelling ! And without speaking Chinese !
While the talks don’t make much sense, the experience is there. In Yunnan as in most of China, the locals want to know you, to meet you. And I surely do want to know all about them. I truly wish I could understand Chinese, I wish I could know why this old lady in Kunming could so easily give us directions in English, what was her story ? Or what was the story of this man with the most incredible smile ? And if only I could have learned more about this lady smoking opium in the streets ?
Yunnan made me want to try my luck in China and everyday I wake up and realise that I know live in a « small » town named Ya’an in Sichuan, China, it makes me smile and feel happy.
This is a small collection of the portraits taken during the first part of our trip. I hope you will enjoy them.
What is your favourite part of travelling ? Did any encounter on the road changed your life somehow ? Let us know in the comments !