Author Archives: Taffysmith

Welsh photographer specialising in cultural and religious festivals and environmental portraits.

Join me in March 2017 in Vietnam for a Photographic Adventure.  We will start from the beautiful city of Hanoi where the French government ruled and governed their colonies in South East Asia.

  • Day One.
    We will travel in our Mercedes minibus into the beautiful mountains region of ?????, stopping en-route for any photo opportunities we happen by.
  • Days Two, Three, Four and Five
    Will be spent photographing the Mhong Ethnic groups in their villages, working in the fields, at the start of the planting season, high in mountains close by Vietnam’s highest point and within sight of China.  Each day we will be at at different weekly market where the various Mhong  people come to buy and sell and to socialise in their best clothes and traditional costumes. There will be ample opportunity for portrait and landscape photography facilitated by your guide and interpreter Trang Tran.  And of course we will stop whenever a special photo opportunity presents itself.
  • Day Six
    Back in Hanoi  you will be free catch up with your washing, get out for some street photography or chill out before the second half of your adventure.
  • Days Seven, Eight, Nine and Ten
    An early flight of just two hours will take us the the deep south of Vietnam and to a very different environment.  Here we will photograph at two villages shortly after sunrise in the beautiful morning light as the colourful fishing fleets arrive with their catch. We will photograph from the shore and from boats (optional) as the fish are taken to the shore, traded and taken away.  We will witness the drama as the buyers compete for the best catch, large fish are being butchered, the fishing nets cleaned and prepared and the boats being replenished with ice and fuel. Eye candy and photo opportunities all around. Early one morning we will visit a beautiful bay for a unique experience.  Here the fisherfolk wade into the lake pulling floating boxes or small boats for their catch,  reaching down into the silt they retrieve the large molluscs.  We will photograph them in the water as they fish and when they return with their catch.  With the sun up and the fishing finished we will enjoy a breakfast of scallops and prawns from the bay, all washed down with Tiger beer, water and green tea. After the fishing we will visit the salt fields to witness and photograph the workers extracting the salt and preparing and cleaning the salt beds.  We will visit an ethnic village and a country village in a very beautiful location as the families return from the fields with their livestock and implements. Back at our hotel each day we will have time to rest and/or to wander around the town for some street photography.
  • Day Eleven
    After breakfast a mid morning flight takes us back to Hanoi where we will be met and taken to our hotel.  Free in the afternoon, in the evening Trang will guide us through the evening  market before our last dinner together.
  • Day Twelve
    If you are departing today you breakfast at your leisure.  If you have opted for the Hanoi Tour with then it’s an early start for you!  We will be out at first light for some street photography as Hanoi wakes up and comes to life before returning to our hotel to freshen up and have breakfast.  The last act of out Photo Tour is a Walking Tour of Hanoi with Trâng ,visiting all the main tourist attractions, before returning to our hotel for the last time.

Tucked away behind the high-rise buildings of Delhi’s Connaught Place, on prime development land near the British Council offices and the Regal Cinema, is the Devi Prasad Sadan Dhobi Ghat, home to over 60 dhobis.

Ghats are traditionally steps down to a river’s edge, where dhobi is normally carried out and is also the generic name for a washing place. With the Yahuma River so far away here they have to rely on water from a borehole instead of the river’s water. Having seen and walked in the Yahuma River I know where I would want my clothes washed!

A dhobi (or dhobi wallah), is a self employed washer man (rarely a woman) who makes his living washing clothes for hotels, restaurants, hospitals etc, and his private clients.

Some of the dhobis working here live in the same complex of two bedroom apartments nearby. Originally from eastern Utter Pradesh, the government moved them when the ghats where they worked were closed down. A fate that might soon be repeated?

As for the washing. The items are firstly soaked in detergent in the chimanchi, or re-cycled bathtubs or disused water tanks, before being beaten on the stone slabs by the dhobis standing up to their waist in water in the houds. After soaking for thirty minutes they are taken to the hand powered or electric hydra (spin dryers) where most of the water is removed, then onto the back of a bicycle to the washing lines close by. Once dry they are taken home, again on bicycles, where the womenfolk of the family do the ironing and folding ready for returning to the clients – which I imagine is also by bicycle or handcart.

A dhobi earns around Rs25,000 a month, ie, £240 or $377.

Health and Safety is clearly not a major consideration here. Crude electrics with cables and water in very close proximity, machines spinning at high speed without covers and very hot water are just some of the risks – and not a warning sign in sight.

Dhobi is so much a part of Indian culture. It was a privilege to witness it at close hand. With one lady exception everyone was very welcoming and hospitable.