The odyssey of a bunch of boys with image boxes riding the whole of Vietnam on very small fire horses.
Photos & Story by Morgan Ommer:
In September 2013, three photographer mates and I set off to ride the whole of Vietnam. We traveled on mopeds from the northern-most to the southern-most towns. From Dong Van in Ha Giang Province to Nam Can in the Mekong Delta. According to Google maps, these two towns are 2469 km apart, the people at Google estimate that it takes 38 hours to cover the distance. They are mistaken, it takes longer…! We, of course, took scenic routes, got lost, frequently and intentionally, and drove for 5400km to reach our destination. It took us 53 days.
❉ Chris Lusher, photographer from the UK, is based in Hong Kong. Chris has two young daughters and a really nice car back home. He is a bit too old and tired for this.
❉ Trong Tung, photographer from Hanoi. He also has a daughter. Tung loves to play with lighting equipment and has too much energy, putting the rest of us to shame.
❉ Bachir Sareh, a French videographer based on the island of La Reunion, where he likes to film sharks, dolphins, whales and more recently pole dancing competitions. Bachir is about to publish a guide on how to eat vegetarian on the backroads of Vietnam.
❉ Morgan Ommer, photographer, German national, is now based in Ho Chi Minh City. He just likes riding small bikes and eating absolutely anything.
We traveled on small fire horses carrying all kinds of image boxes, lights and tripods. Our cameras included Leicas, Canons, Nikons, and even a Nokia smart phone. Bachir, Chris and Morgan rode Honda Waves, and Tung got all the attention on his 50cc automatic Julio scooter.
Along the way we had other people join the ride. Duc is a restaurateur in Hoi An. He rode with us for a week between Hoi An and Quy Nhon. We ate very well when he was around…Lynn is a HCMC-based journalist with Cosmo and Harper’s Bazaar. She added girl-power between Dalat and Ca Mau. She also managed to get a cosmetic company to sponsor us with sunblock. That was very useful…At the very end, Benoit Perdu, a ship-owner in Can Tho, showed us around the Mekong Delta.
In the North, we drank a lot of rice wine with Dao and Hmong people. The Dao people taught us how to cheers when you drink. You say ‘Humbidou’.. then you drink, then you shake hands, then you wait 2 seconds… and start again.
In Central Vietnam, we were almost blown away by Typhoon Wutip.
In Danang, we caught up with Hoang Anh, Miss Vietnam Earth runner-up 2012 and did a fashion shoot with her in a nice resort with some Scottish fire-water.
The next day we met a bunch of kids playing amazing football, the way it should be played, as a team and for fun.
In the Central Highlands, we met a French man who grows some of the best Arabica coffee beans in the world with the help of Mnong Chi people. We also met with some villagers who are victims of Agent Orange.
In Dalat, we hung around with street magicians who entertain people in the town’s pedestrian area on Saturday nights.
In the Mekong Delta, while waiting for a ferry, we spent some time with a Khmer boat racing team training for a big long boat competition.
For those of you who are interested in photography technique, we tried infrared photography throughout the trip.
All in all, we had 4 flat tires, ran over a chicken, a duck and maybe some frogs (it was raining very hard so we are not sure about how many?)
For our efforts, we raised money for a charitable organization. We chose to give money to East Meets West’s Spell program. The program provides scholarships to talented children from disadvantaged families. We raised US$5,400, which comes to $1 for each km we rode! Good thing we did not go straight down as suggested by Google…