Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Photo Exhibition: Tuy Hoà

A couple of months ago, I traveled to a city not typically on a foreigner's travel itinerary (or even that of a local Vietnamese tourist) to attend a friend's wedding. Tuy Hoà is a relatively unheard-of small city, the capital of Phú Yên province, located in the south-central region of Vietnam. With just a modest population of roughly 202,000 (2012 census), a stable economy based mainly on the fishery industry, and a poignant natural surrounding, the city makes for a fairly pleasant and peaceful living place.

The center of the city swells up into a mountain with the main attraction dominating the peak- an ancient temple built by the Cham people of the Champa Empire in the 14th century. At night-time, this well-preserved temple is lit up in a warm glow, acting as a beacon that can be appreciated from far away. The temperature was relatively cold when I went, hovering around 18 degrees Celsius; the cool brisk air is assured by the mountainous region, as well as the ocean coast right over to the east of the city. In fact, 189km of beautiful undeveloped beach coastline stretches just at the horizon. There had been plans by the government to develop the area into a tourist beach area, but nothing has yielded as of yet.

If you want to get a glimpse of how Vietnam would be without any foreign influence or without the tentacles of globalization deeply entrenching themselves, Tuy Hoà would definitely provide it. The inhabitants live a pure and peaceful life, where children freely walk around their neighborhoods, teenagers cycle in groups to-and-fro places, and families and neighbors live in tight-knit safe networks. At night-time, you can see people spread out in different pockets throughout the city, enjoying late-night food and drinks, braving it throughout cold weather to enjoy each other's company. I don't think 'stress' is a word in this city's vocabulary; if I myself had any, it certainly dissolved into thin air while I toured around this tame and friendly pocket in Vietnam.

Here is a selection of photos from my two-day trip, where I returned by train (Tuy Hoà is one of the stops on the national railway line that runs the whole length of Vietnam) which you will see. I am in two of the pictures - one is a self-timed mid-action photo, and the other my friend took of me while I skipped down the street with a cute and curious little local girl.