Whether you’re nestled in a quiet bay or relaxing on the slopes of the surrounding mountains, it is difficult to miss Nha Trang’s unequalled beauty. Said to be one of the most beautiful on Earth, Nha Trang Bay embraces crystal clear waters, a brilliant blue backdrop to white sand, beautiful sunlight and charming islands, from Bồng Nguyên Island to Hòn Mun and Hòn Tằm.
As a Vietnamese, I am still taken by the beauty of my country and in particular, Nha Trang, where I am from. Here, the simple image of a baby, a flower or perhaps an elderly soul sitting on the stairs looking out, maybe even a boat on our tranquil coast or an old corner of the city – all are my constant inspirations. It affects the work I do and drives me forward.
Looking closely at Nha Trang alone, the variety of Vietnamese races, especially the minorities who live in the highlands of the North, makes this place particularly unique. It is amazing what stimulation you can find in our own backyard. The familiar salty aroma of traditional cuisines, such as the mi hoanh thanh, conveys a distinct form of artistic sentiment. Like photography, food transcends the boundaries of creation into art when the correct subjects are put in place.
From these local stimuli, what speaks the loudest to me and extends to the work I do are the festivals. The traditions, practices and various other aspects of the Champas and Khome people of Nha Trang truly show off the ethnic diversity, not just in Nha Trang, but all over Vietnam I am sure.
Being a creature of habit, I take a daily breather and soak in my simple routine of a cuppa every morning at 9am on the dot. For years, it’s been my sober focal point amidst the hustle and bustle. For me, Con Gà Pháp, literally “French Chicken”, is the quintessential café that embodies Nha Trang and the serenity we often find here. Sitting about 150 metres from the beach, the café commands a lovely view, especially when one unwinds at the garden; it doesn’t take much else to conquer that elusive quiet within.
Every now and then, the French owner comes around for a chat, his clientele being mostly photographers and novelists. It’s a regular haunt for the community of artistic types, many of whom consider this their base, sipping that Vietnamese coffee for many years now. I too often enjoy the wonderful taste of coffee, thinking about what I have been through in my life, pondering my passion for life and work.
For the rest of this article (Asian Geographic Issue 3/2013 No. 96) and other stories, check out our past issues here or download digital copy here.