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In the village of Ta Lai (NEAR Cat Tien National Park, Central Highlands, Vietnam), I was taken by my guide to a small wooden house similar to those I up-loaded yesterday to visit an old man who fought against the French and then against the Americans.

He could speak French as he is of the generation of Vietnamese who were children during the French colonial times and who learned French at school. He told me he was 80 and had been wounded 7 times. He lost one eye, his leg has been badly injured and he has other sequels from other various injuries. He was very warm and proud to speak to me about his wars.
The house was very basic: two rooms (a front room and a bedroom). The floor was earth, the table and benches looked homemade. There was some sort of wooden dresser with photos and a calendar on it. On the wall there was a framed portrait of Ho Chi Minh. Chicken were coming and going in the room.

He offered me tea (a cold jasmine type of tea typical in Vietnam) in a plastic cup and let me take some photos after I told him he looked fantastic for his age.

The room was dark and there was not much light outside either as it was about to rain so the ISO have been pushed hence the grain. In a way it adds something to the photo (f5,6 1/40th sec zoom at 70mm available light).

The time spent that afternoon with this man is one of many very strong moments of my trip. I had dreamed of making such encounters but did not know I would achieve it.

Waiting for your reactions and comments.

Thank you for looking at the last up-load. I agree with you that the Vietnamese lady in the picture makes us realise how lucky we are.

Enjoy the week-end,


Tags: Vietnam Central highlands Landscape and travel Portraits and people Cat tien national park Lam dong Binh phuoc provinces Chau ma hill tribe Ta lai village War hero

Voters: Skye24Blue, Strobe, brownsilent and 48 more

Readers' Choice Awards are given to photos that get over 30 votes


14 Jun 2008 6:13PM
Very powerful image. Excellent in B&W.

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GalleryGirl 12 4 2 United Kingdom
14 Jun 2008 6:33PM
Thought provoking image and write-up.
Enjoy your weekend.
Marilyn x
Eviscera 13 1.1k 149 United Kingdom
14 Jun 2008 6:36PM
i am , stunned , both by the description - so valuable , and the image , this is as far away from snapshots i have ever seen , enviable photojounalism ,

jaktis 16 84 Sweden
14 Jun 2008 6:54PM
Interesting story and a great picture

14 Jun 2008 6:58PM
that is an excellent portrait Jean-Noel ! Works better in colour IMO. The grain is there, but not bothering. It's a simple straightforward capture, which is just right here. Love how the shadows darkens his 'good' eye, and in the same time emphasizes his 'bad' eye, allthough it isn't clear to me if his eye condition is related to his war antics. Very strong work.
glyndwr 12 66 10 Wales
14 Jun 2008 7:00PM
You managed the available light very well JNC.

daffydill56 16 190 United Kingdom
14 Jun 2008 7:00PM
With all the trials and misfortunes during his life, it must have been a fantastic experience talking to him. Wonderful work!

pascalg Plus
12 37 France
14 Jun 2008 7:09PM
this is moving...
Gaucho 18 2.8k 2 United Kingdom
14 Jun 2008 7:13PM
What an experience for you. Lovely portrait.
lonely_oryx 12 61 55 England
14 Jun 2008 7:21PM
Great story with a great picture
Portknockie 15 48 Scotland
14 Jun 2008 8:01PM
You were very lucky I think to meet the man...

cantona43 Plus
14 928 4 United Kingdom
14 Jun 2008 8:01PM
superb shot and very well documented
14 Jun 2008 8:10PM
I do like the rich tones of the colour JeanNoel, enthralling write-up, fine images, Adrian
piccy 13 8 Wales
14 Jun 2008 8:38PM
Nice write up to go with this fine image.
photophantom 12 108 3 Philippines
14 Jun 2008 8:50PM
Great portraiture and narrative. Well done.
bayleaf 12 8 United Kingdom
14 Jun 2008 8:59PM
No. 1 for me

14 Jun 2008 8:59PM
Great portrait, v 1 for me.

Hop-A-Long 13 52 1 England
14 Jun 2008 9:29PM
Fabulous lighting. #2 for me. Love portraits in mono.
phil_j 13 134 4 England
15 Jun 2008 12:06AM
A lot of history in that face.

NevP 14 853 13 Canada
15 Jun 2008 4:59AM
I think Koen has expressed my feelings about this too. If we are lucky we have experiences that make the taking of photographs something extraordinary. And I also believe we make our own luck. Strong work.
mickp 13 9 7 United Kingdom
15 Jun 2008 10:21AM
Very poignant and good use of the available light.
Dennis_Bromage 12 45 20 United Kingdom
15 Jun 2008 10:44AM
Very powerful. I met a man with a similar story in Cambodia who had also lost a leg & an eye and was literally covered with scars from shrapnel & bullet wounds. He also told how his entire family had been killed by the Khmer Rouge and how his wife had been blow up by a land mine and bleed to death in front of him over several hours. Experiences like this change your life for ever.

Thanks for sharing
15 Jun 2008 10:52AM
This photo is very close to my heart so your comments are important.
Thank you for your interest. Jean-NoŽl
Silverzone 12 2 England
15 Jun 2008 2:43PM
Thank you for the story and picture. Sylvia
15 Jun 2008 4:34PM
Great shot, V1 for me.
dianah 13 24.5k 4 United Kingdom
16 Jun 2008 2:07PM
Excellent subdued light..I think that it needs that little bit of colour.
tomlad 13 5 England
16 Jun 2008 10:37PM
Fabulous image, very moving. Makes you realise how lucky we are. Regards Tom.
Gezina 13 3 6 United Kingdom
17 Jun 2008 9:53AM
Humbling, the shot and the narritive - well done Ina
Paul_cats 14 61 22 Scotland
17 Jun 2008 5:20PM
Very powerful image.
Glostopcat 13 255 2 England
22 Jun 2008 10:49PM
An excellent character study and a superb narrative to go with it

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