Thursday

A beautiful people.

The Vietnamese are a handsome people, and none are more beautiful than Vietnamese women. How can there be so many beautiful women in one place at one time? These exquisite oriental odalisques, wrought to perfection in liquid alabaster, pass you by with dignified grace and look like they are about to glide onto a stage to dance with Tchaikovsky's swans.  Whether walking or riding a motorbike either solo or on the pillion, they are bolt upright but never tense: they are always on display in their finest form.
Vietnamese children are outrageously beautiful, prancing animated porcelain dolls. They are spontaneous and gregarious, but their respect for people older than themselves, and particularly for teachers, is always evident. Teachers in Vietnam are so respected, in fact, that they have their own pronoun in the language!

I happened to pass a school some streets away from the Ben Thanh Markets, walking down a street filled with antique shops and places selling old and not so old curios and furniture, and saw some kind of drill being practiced in a school yard.  I poked my camera lens through the bars of the front gate to take a picture or two. After I had about four exposures, the children did an about face and I was spotted. They broke out spontaneously in cheers and waves, and must have called out hundreds of individual hellos. I kept snapping and their teacher smiled and let them express their spontaneous reaction to a stranger that had shown so much interest in them and their activity.  They made me feel welcome and special. Then the teacher called them back to attention and they snapped to it as one.

Some minutes later, as I was photographing further down the street, another small group of school children saw me from behind and called out to me, striking a pose at the same time. I hit the shutter again, much to their delight. They said hello as they approached closer and waved goodbye as the passed me. These kids are cool!

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