When I first visited Kratie, in January last year, the place looked very different. A fire had recently destroyed the town’s market so the traders had had to set up temporary stalls along the riverfront. Now, the market has been rebuilt and is thriving again, and the view of the Mekong from the town is happily unobscured. I had good memories of Kratie from my first visit – I kept recalling meals I’d eaten there, pictures I’d taken, the book I was reading – so I was pleased to see that the town had been revived. On top of that, it was also good to be somewhere familiar again, for the first time since leaving Vientiane a few weeks earlier.
My previous visit was part of a trip I took during the Tet holiday 2012, when I travelled from Saigon, through the Mekong delta, and into eastern Cambodia: my Mini Mekong Trip, as I now think of it. At the time, I wrote about how one day I wanted to go on a longer Mekong journey, following the river from southern China to the delta in Vietnam. And this is what I’ve been doing for the last couple of months: my Big Mekong Trip, now sadly nearer its end than its beginning.
I’ve mostly been using my standard zoom lens on this trip, but in Kratie’s streets, I brought out my 50mm. I wanted to get some simple portraits and detail shots. I love taking people pictures with my 50mm lens; it makes you get close to people but still allows your subjects some room to breathe.