Confict of Interest – KL Christmas

Danang Photographer, Hanoi Photographer, Ho Chi Minh City Photographer, Southeast Asia Photographer, Vietnam Photographer

I recently visited Malaysia and was in it’s capital Kuala Lumpur. As i walked around the beautiful city i went to one of the many local shopping malls located there. When i walked in i was greeted with a large Christmas tree and Christmas music such as, Joy to the World and jingle bells. Now from my knowledge and from what i have read on Wiki about Malaysia is that Islam is the largest and official religion of the federation.

So this was quite confusing to me. The majority of the people i saw there, that were Malay, were traditional Muslims. Also most of the tourists i saw in KL were from some sort of Islamic background, as all the women were dressed in the traditional all black and you could only see their eyes.

Christmas is a religious holiday celebrating the birth of Christ. At least this is what we are all told.

So to see Muslims walking around in this festive atmosphere was quite interesting to me.

Maybe they don’t care? They just want to go out with the family and buy things like everyone else?

To me Christmas has no religious meaning. It is the time of the year where you see your family and old friends that you haven’t seen.

I wonder what Christmas means to them?

The people of Tonlé Sap Lake

Danang Photographer, Hanoi Photographer, Ho Chi Minh City Photographer, Southeast Asia Photographer, Vietnam Photographer

After spending 5 days in Siem Reap some friends and i decided to go out to the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. We took a friendly tuk-tuk out to the lake and tried to commission a boat for the day. We had been told that the normal price was $45 a day. When we showed up we found out that the local tourism police were running a racket. They were insisting that we pay anywhere between $60 to $100 a day. We walked away and found a nice fisherman who was working on his own and not with the police. Once the Tout saw us doing that he immediately told one of the his fellow tourist officers to come interfere. The tourist officer told us that we have to take one of the “official boats” and that we could not take a boat with the fisherman. Having been in Cambodia many times i never believe what these “official people” say. Most of the time it is a scam. So i asked him to please see his ID so that i know that he was an official tourist officer. Of course he did not have one. Figures.

The so called tourist officer did manage to stop our fisherman from taking us unless we agreed to pay him $25. So we did and then jumped in a boat and tried to enjoy our little trip out to see the people that live on this lake.

The majority of the people living in the lake live are surprisingly Vietnamese. Our friendly fisherman told us that the majority of them stayed after the the war with the Khmer Rouge and have never returned to Vietnam. They even had a floating school that taught only in Vietnamese. My friend Francoise told me that at the time of the fighting between the Khmer Rouge and Vietnam many of the Vietnamese Soldiers defected from the military because there was too much fighting at the time. Vietnam had just finished the war with America and now had two conflicts, one with the Khmer Rouge and another with the Chinese. So some of them were tired of all the fighting and decided to stay and live in Cambodia.

The fisherman took us to a remote village about 2 hours away by boat. This village was special due to the it being next to a “floating forest.” Many of the people living near or in the floating forest rely on it to provide them the wood, food and money from tourism. The children in Cambodia make you fall in love with the country. Lots of happy smiling faces. Even when they are asking you for some money they do so half hardheartedly and just want to talk with you and have fun.

We later took a smaller boat through the floating village and it was a serene and beautiful place full of bent trees sprouting up from the depths of the lake letting in little rays of sunlight. I really loved this place and was happy we made the trip.

Exhibition At Ankor Wat Photography Festival

Danang Photographer, Hanoi Photographer, Ho Chi Minh City Photographer, Southeast Asia Photographer, Vietnam Photographer

I found out some months ago that my work was selected to be shown at the 2008 Angkor Wat Photography Festival. So now I’m on my way to to Siem Reap, Cambodia once again to meet people and hopefully make some connections in this difficult industry. The body of work they will be showing will be my coverage of Post-Leprosy treatment in Vietnam.

I have to say that i’m quite honored that my work was chosen by both the curators Sujong Song and Christian Caujolle. The other photojournlists chosen to show their work are needless to say amazing. Most of them are quite famous in the photography world and come from prestigious agencies like, Getty, VII and Magnum.

After deciding that i was going to pursue a career in photography and film some two years ago i feel that now more than ever i’m on the right track.

I hope that with more exposure of Post-Leprosy treatment in Vietnam that the kind people that opened their lives up to me for this project will get the recognition, help and resources they need. This is my main love of photography. It has the power to help people and to bridge connections and connect people that would normally have never been known.