Boat on Thu Bồn River in Hội An at Sunrise
Shot with the Fujifilm X-T2XF10-24mm F4 R OIS, and the Lee Big Stopper

Finding the beauty in Vietnam is not too difficult, it’s just a matter of getting out and looking around. It’s everywhere. As we explored the town of Hội An in the early morning I was struck by the silence and calmness of the Thu Bồn River.

I knew that later in the day boats full of tourist will navigate back and forth, locals would head out to fish, and in the evening people would place illuminated lanterns in the river to float out of sight to become a distant memory. It’s a beautiful sight to see but there is a negative aspect that most people look past. Where do all those lanterns end up? The lanterns along with everything else that is tossed into the water eventually ends up on the shores down the river, or it floats out to sea.

It is difficult to see the amount of trash on the shoreline within the town. The challenge of cleaning up the river is being addressed by both locals and tourist alike with organized cleanups but it’s an overwhelming task that will take a greater number of people to accomplish. I also believe that it will take a change in the mindset of how people view their waterways.

So my dilemma was what to focus on this morning: the beauty of the river, the environmental impact of the waste that surrounds it, or both?

The juxtaposition of the two contrasting scenes so close together was very compelling. I did attempt to photograph both but wasn’t satisfied with the results. Ultimately the beautiful colors in the sky reflecting off the Thu Bồn River with the boat sitting there was so captivating that I found it hard to not focus all my efforts on capturing the moment.

Although I wasn’t able to capture the emotion of the total scene my friend had his DJI Mavic-Pro hovering above me taking pictures which gives you a real sense of what things look like from a slightly different perspective.

Thu Bồn River in Hội An, Vietnam
Image courtesy of Manolin Santiago

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