What comes first into your mind when you hear the word Vietnam? Perhaps an image of that conical Asian hat that Vietnamese people wear or maybe a sudden flashback of the Vietnam War where guns, tanks and soldiers are the main thoughts, some may even think of that famous musical play Miss Saigon.
There are just so many things that each and everyone of us can acquaint to Vietnam, I for one will plead guilty for picturing Vietnam as a victim-of-violence country, But everything changed the moment I set foot on this humble country I coined myself “The Country Where Blood and Beauty Meets”
Blood, for the memories of the past where scars are not in the skin but in the mind. Beauty, in its reality is still a country filled with captivating natural beauty and tranquil village life where people breathes in the warmth of the sun and holds the richness of the soil.
Coming from a country known for friendly and welcoming people, Philippines, I find it quite challenging to blend in a country where people are somewhat aloof to foreigners and strangers to their land. In addition to that, the language barrier makes it harder for me to connect with them,since majority of Vietnamese don’t speak english, most of the time I find myself drawing an image on my travel notebook or mimicking sign language in order to get my message through. But nonetheless I find this form of communication interesting and worth-remembering experience.
It was not until this day that we met a Vietnamese Photographer named Mai Lộc. It was in Nha Trang that we met him. Nha Trang is a coastal city and capital of Khan Hoa Province, on the South Central Coast of Vietnam. It takes about 9 hrs bus ride from Ho Chi Minh to get to this pristine beach destination and scuba diving haven part of Vietnam.
In Nha Trang, my mind was set to just see the beach, explore the coast and mingle with the back-packers in the nearby back-packers area since Nha Trang is known to receive a lot of travelers, tourist and back-packers whether high or low travel season.
But true indeed of the saying “you’ll never know what will come your way”. It was a laid-back Sunday coming from dinner, we were strolling along the street of Lý Tự Trọng when we came across this photo gallery that displays large black & white portrait photos inside. It immediately caught our eyes specially the photographer I’m travelling with. So we both decided to get in the gallery and take a look. As we entered, there was this slender, fair-toned man pasting some photos on a card, I immediately had a feeling that he is the artist behind the photos that we are seeing, I checked on one photo display and took a look of the signature stamped on the bottom-right-side of one frame, I read it as “Mai Lộc“. Unsure, I pursuit and asked the man in his simple polo and black trouser, “Excuse me sir, are you Mai Lộc?” and he replied with a warm smile “Yes, I’m Mai Lộc“, my eyes widened and had felt an excitement to start a conversation with him. And indeed we spent a good 10-15 minutes talking about his works and how he started. There are so many questions I wanted to ask him as a conversation starter, but I knew I have to pick the right one that can lead to a meaningful conversation, so I threw in my next question and the rest was history… “How long have you been a photographer?” and he replied with enthusiasm “10 years now”. And our conversation went on from there. He speaks good English and this caught my attention, I couldn’t help but to ask him again “You speak good English, how did you learn to speak English?” and his answer was just astonishingly unexpected “I used to be a cyclo driver, “I’m working by touring people in the morning, then I send my self to an English class at night” and so I thought I heard the best part, needless to say he’s just getting started…
Here is an excerpt of his biography I sourced out from his website, with his permission of course… 🙂
Why Did I Blog About Him?
I chose to blog about him first and foremost because his story is so unique and interesting that I felt worth sharing to my friends back in the Philippines. I have some friends that I give high respect when it comes to photography, to name a few, Sidney, Sir PG, Michael M, Sherwin T, my gf Mer Gondraneos, and a young starter Lincoln G. I hope you guys will find this blog of mine interesting.
In this blog you will see some of his amazing works, you can also check his official website in the link I provided above.
More Mai Lộc Works:
More About Mai Lộc on this links: