CONTRAST: A Black & White Series
STREETS OF SAIGON
PHOTOGRAPHY AND WORDS BY JOANIK
A year ago, I had to write some presentation to be able to study in Saigon, the capital city of Vietnam. I remember a sentence from my report that really resonated in me, "Vietnam is a small China on methamphetamine." This quote belongs to Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, a famous zoologist that helps protect the forests in Southeast Asia.
My way to grab the reality of this city is to shoot photos everyday for almost a year. It was also a way to experience street photography for myself, as it is the first time I'm trying it.
To get a sense of what Saigon is, one should understand some features.
The country is booming as it has a young and dynamic population, an extensive freedom through rumbling motorbikes everywhere, and a collectivist culture.
Saigon is a huge city gathering around 10 million people. All living in small houses and having to share their rooms with one person or more. The city’s lack of space makes the people wander in the street for the whole day, then go home just to sleep.
That is why the street food culture is abundant, tiny coffee shops are on the pavements, and it made people used to interacting with others. Which means that engaging in some jokes or conversation with a stranger is easy.
The city is like a Mafioso movie when it comes to money. Everybody is constantly exchanging money with others, going from one hand to another all day.
Poverty being widely spread among Vietnamese people but you can tell how resourceful and still positive they are with their lives. The poor don't beg for money, most of the homeless are picking up plastic in the street, selling lottery tickets for cheap amount, or having multiple side jobs just to earn something to get them through the day.
Walking in the streets and going out there is an experience. You can tell how people lives in different ways.
Try to slow down, pay attention to the people in the street, their faces, and small gestures and you will be amazed by the diversity of what you can see.