Author: Do Thi Tham
Photos: Photo tour crew
Heritage’s latest Photo Tour captured unforgettable scenes along Vietnam’s South Central Coast
Our “Coastal Journey Photo Tour” took us through Vung Tau – Long Hai – Long Son – Ke Ga – Phan Rang – Vinh Hy – Cam Ranh – Nha Trang. Almost 20 photographers joined this arduous yet emotionally rewarding six-day journey. Their motorbike rides always started at 4am as they chased the sunrise and ended dozens or even hundreds of kilometers away at 8pm or 9pm. Even experienced photographers found this trip a challenge.
Wherever they visited, the team was able to learn about the region and local people, as well as the scenery and distinctive lifestyle. They enjoyed an unforgettable feeling of “homecoming” upon receiving a warm welcome from Ms. Ba, the manager of the Long Son Big House in Vung Tau. She also helped to arrange shooting locations that allowed the team to authentically capture the local culture. Equal effort was applied to photographing scenes of daily life, traditional handicraft-making, and performing arts. The team photographed dedicated pottery-makers in Bau Truc (Ninh Thuan); children playing early one morning on the Nam Cuong sand dunes (Ninh Thuan); a flock of sheep being herded home from the fields at twilight (Phan Rang); enchanting Cham dances at Po K’Long Garai Temple Towers (Ninh Thuan); and more.
During this tour, the crew was supported by Piaggio Medley scooters, ensuring their mobility and convenience. These private vehicles allowed them to access lesser-known destinations at special times of the day. However, this freedom also came with challenges. In an area of vast sand dunes in Phan Rang and Phan Thiet, riding hundreds of kilometers under the searing hot sun and wind tested everyone’s stamina.
The team’s efforts bore fruit. The resulting photos are distinctive, showcasing the various photographers’ different styles and emotions.
Speaking of a photo session at the Po K’long Garai Temple Towers, photographer Huynh Phuc Hau said: “I felt sentimental watching a musician play his saranai trumpet at twilight by the temple tower. The saranai trumpet is an important traditional Cham musical instrument, which is used in religious rituals, festivals, weddings etc. It is believed that the melodic sound can connect mortals with the spiritual world.”
For Nguyen Tan Tuan, this was an opportunity to learn about Cham culture and architecture, as well as the dances by the tower and the music played on traditional Cham traditional instruments such as the saranai trumpet, paranung drums, ghi-nang drums and more.
While taking photos of kids rolling hoops on the sand dunes, photojournalist Ngo Tran Hai An confided: “Watching those kids use sticks to roll their hoops down Nam Cuong sand dunes took me back to my childhood days. I used to be that innocent and carefree.”
The use of drones took landscape shots to the next level. Photographer Minh Quan said: “I have made several visits to Nha Trang in the autumn but this was the first time I saw foliage with such vibrant colors. As we rode over Ca Pass, the whole landscape turned into an impressionist oil painting with various shades of autumn colors. Very few coastal roads in Vietnam can compare to this.”
Nguyen Quang Ngoc agreed: “On one side of the road was the vast blue ocean. On the other side were mountains with trees in their splendidly colorful autumn coats. It was truly an astonishing ‘Coastal Journey’.”
The organizers made great efforts to facilitate such a detailed and safe tour. The project created a friendly and professional working environment for the photographers to share their expertise and enthusiastically support each other. This has earned Heritage’s photo tours such a prestigious reputation.