The Women and Girls of Vietnam

I have just returned from a life-giving trip to Vietnam with my sister and I can’t wait to share some of my pictures from our adventure! I always find it challenging to capture the essence of a trip when I return and am therefore thankful for the photographs that help illustrate and weave the story for me.

Vietnam is a country filled with vibrant colors, pungent smells and some of the most genuine people I have ever met. With my camera in hand, I snapped my way through this beautiful country, hoping to capture the beauty of the food, landscape and people.

A woman bravely shuttling her pottery cart into the bustling street traffic.

A woman bravely shuttling her pottery cart into the bustling street traffic.

The bustling morning market in the Cholon District of Ho Chi Minh City.

The bustling morning market in the Cholon District of Ho Chi Minh City.

Since starting Yes Way!, I have challenged myself to start seeing women. Not simply recognizing their presence, but instead opening my eyes to their interaction with and relation to the everyday spaces through which we amble. Vietnam was filled with these moments - women selling their wares at markets, shuttling their children on the back of motorbikes through the jungle, worshiping in pagodas, and preparing their homes for the upcoming New Year celebrations. I have so many observations about Vietnamese women; here are just a few:

  • They are constantly on the go. It was rare to see women resting or relaxing. They have this amazing balance of consistent movement and lack of rushing.

  • Vietnamese women are equally active in the work force. Women owned shops, ran restaurants, worked in the rice paddies, and served in the military. At the Women’s Museum in Hanoi, we learned that during the Vietnam War, 40% of the active military members were women. 40%! No wonder the Vietnamese won that war!

  • The women we met were not shy, nor were they pushy. When purchasing gifts or food from different women street vendors, we found them to be great salespeople! They knew how to convince you to purchase more, but never insisted or got upset if you didn’t want to. They were assertive and unapologetic - I loved it! I tried to take notes for myself to bring home to the U.S.

  • Traveling as two females, we never felt unsafe. There was rarely a moment when we were in a space filled with more men than women. The public spaces were always bustling, and women were always present. Women are well respected in Vietnamese culture, and tourists were no exception.

  • The kindness we experienced was unlike any I have felt throughout my travels. The little girls we encountered in the villages of Central Vietnam were curious and friendly and the women were always smiling and offering to help. We were overwhelmed with warmth from all the women and couldn’t believe that it was only 42 years ago that the war ended. There was never a moment that we felt animosity directed towards us as Americans. How wonderfully quickly the world can change!

Three girls returning home from school in Central Vietnam, near Phong Nha National Park.

Three girls returning home from school in Central Vietnam, near Phong Nha National Park.

A woman biking through Hanoi with her vegetables.

A woman biking through Hanoi with her vegetables.

Beautiful flowers carted on the back of a woman's bicycle .

Beautiful flowers carted on the back of a woman's bicycle .

My wonderful tour guides in Hanoi, Ha and Giao. They are part of a non-profit providing free tours to promote cultural exchange between the Vietnamese and tourists. More info here. 

My wonderful tour guides in Hanoi, Ha and Giao. They are part of a non-profit providing free tours to promote cultural exchange between the Vietnamese and tourists. More info here

A friendly and persistent fruit seller in Hoi An.

A friendly and persistent fruit seller in Hoi An.

A girl peacefully observing the Koi fish in a pagoda pond in Ho Chi Minh City.

A girl peacefully observing the Koi fish in a pagoda pond in Ho Chi Minh City.

A woman cooking at her colorful street stand at night in Hue.

A woman cooking at her colorful street stand at night in Hue.

I hope you have a chance to visit Vietnam and meet the amazing women and girls of this country yourself - they are truly incredible. Stay tuned for more posts about some of the awesome women-run shops and restaurants we visited.

A friendly street vendor, saving me from my afternoon hunger in Ho Chi Minh City.

A friendly street vendor, saving me from my afternoon hunger in Ho Chi Minh City.

Two young girls practicing their English, pen and paper in hand.

Two young girls practicing their English, pen and paper in hand.

My sister and me with Ly Ly, the restaurant supervisor at Chay Lap Farmstay. Ly Ly was recently promoted from house keeping - Yes Way!

My sister and me with Ly Ly, the restaurant supervisor at Chay Lap Farmstay. Ly Ly was recently promoted from house keeping - Yes Way!