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Photographer's Note

I'm sure what you will think of this picture, but it's one that sends shivers down my spine everytime I look at it. Here's the story:

During a 4x4 trek in the north-west of Vietnam we made several improvised stops at 'minority' villages. While most of these villages would be considered poor by any standard, none seemed to be as poverty-stricken as this one.

High in the mountains, chilly even in midsummer, our car stopped, like a UFO landing from outer space. (Though I've travelled quite a bit, this is the only place where I really got this feeling.)

Three boys ran up from the village and stopped halfway. Afraid, as if in shock.

I tried to make it clear that I had only the best intentions and after a long, long while their curiosity conquered their fear and they moved closer, the bravest boy in the middle. Clasping each others' hands, still visibly afraid, they moved closer.

As I spoke a little Vietnamese, I tried to put their minds at ease, but with little effect. The boys just stared at me, a bearded creature from a UFO.

Eventually an older villager came up and explained that the boys didn't speak any Vietnamese yet. And when my own two travel companions walked down, the boys dashed off, taking the magic with them.

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Exactly where this picture was taken, I wouldn't know nor do I remember - I'm ashamed to say - precisely to which minority the boys belonged (Muong?), but everytime I look at this picture...it's the shivers!

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I tried a sepia version of the shot, see WS

scan from analogue print, overexposed sky in the top right corner, I know... lots of noise, dirt (also on the boys' clothes), I know...

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Additional Photos by Benny Verbercht (BennyV) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1532 W: 34 N: 2191] (13378)
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