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Photography & Writing: Hon Hoang

The Sun and Humidity can be unrelenting in Vietnam. A few steps out of the airport and it feels as if the heat has wrung out every bit of moisture from me. Perhaps, that's why I found myself muttering my native tongue. Finding the right words buried under two and a half decades of assimilation proved to be difficult, for me. I was found out by most to be foreign. Perhaps it was my accent, my child-like vocabulary, or most likely everything about me was foreign to this place I thought of as home.

Being in Ho Chi Minh city after 11 years since my last visit feels different yet the same. The skyline has given birth to more towers seeking to touch the sun. Wealth has found itself in the pockets of Vietnamese society yet has forgotten many others. Even with these progressions, much of the city has stayed the same. Many of it’s inhabitants working day by day, to live, to provide for the future. Street vendors beginning their work before the sun wakes or never having ever stopped to begin with. Construction workers laboring under the feverish heat, finding solace in the brief moments of air and rain. Citizens working well into old age, doing work meant for much younger bodies.

Kids: "Taking pictures mister?"
Me: "Yes."
Kids: "Then take a picture of us!"

This place is rich in its traditions and superstitions. People having muted conversations with those that have long left the world. Hands clasped, with pulsating ember, the hopeful pray. Wishing for health, wealth, and whatever might be. I see a country with hope, hope for a better future than most experienced in the past. The hardships, turmoil, and labor that bled into the soil that now grows bounty. It’s a country in search of identity and ownership, both of which have been unknown.