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Published: January 8th 2008
The rice harvest in Mù Cang Chải
This is one of my favorite photos in Vietnamese traditional dress. It was taken when I traveled at the terraced rice fields in Mù Cang Chải (North West Vietnam) during the harvest in October 2012.
The Vietnamese traditional dress, "Áo Dài", is one of the most elegant and beautiful dresses for women. It’s very simple, consisting of a close-fitting blouse, with long panels in the front and back, that is worn over loose white trousers. As a Vietnamese girl who loves to travel abroad, sometimes I bring an Áo Dài to travel with me. Whenever I wear it, my Áo Dài always attracts friendly looks from both locals and travelers.
I once got a message from an Irish poster in the Thorn Tree travel forum. He wrote to me "You must get a wonderful reaction from the local people when you wear your Áo Dài. I think you would stop the traffic, if you were to wear it walking down a street in Ireland."
An Áo Dài can be worn with a Nón (conical hat) or a turban of the same color. I wish I could bring a Nón (conical hat) with me more often when traveling abroad, but it would require a great care, as this kind of hat is very soft and easily deformed. Certainly, a photo with a conical hat would have made the essential photo of a Vietnamese girl abroad.
Mỹ Sơn Holy Land in Central Vietnam
Mỹ Sơn Holy Land in Central Vietnam is a UNESCO world heritage site. This shot was taken in January 2008 on my second visit to the site.
Every girl in Vietnam has at least one Áo Dài, as it's not expensive to make. Whenever we wear Áo Dài, because of the long trousers, high heel sandals or shoes are necessary, it makes the girls look taller. The traditional color of trousers is white, but now many colors are acceptable. The Áo Dài is worn on such special occasions like engagement or wedding ceremonies, contract signing ceremonies or any special event. Áo Dài is used as an uniform at some offices, airlines or shops etc., and the white Áo Dài is also the uniform of Vietnamese school girls. You will see this uniform more often in southern Vietnam, where the weather is warm throughout the year. In northern Vietnam, its cold in the winter, so this uniform is not always suitable.
There are many Áo Dài shops where we could rent an Áo Dài for a day if we want. Normally, I buy cloth at the market then bring it to a tailor, but sometimes I also rent an Áo Dài for a day, as I want a different design and color. Some fashion designers have changed the traditional Áo Dài into a modern style without
Sunset over the sea in Brunei
Sunset at Jerudong beach of the 7 star Empire Hotel in Brunei Darussalam (May 2007).
the collar and sleeve. The new design is great, but I always prefer the traditional style. We can buy plain cloth and get the Áo Dài shop to paint any picture or flower on the Áo Dài as per our request.
Here are 110 photos of Áo Dài that were taken in Vietnam and when I traveled abroad during 2008-2014, after I was presented a digital camera (Ricoh) and started taking these special photos. Now I have 16 traditional Áo Dài of different colors and a modern Áo Dài (without the collar and sleeve) in my photo album. I like natural photos without special make-up and computer touch-up (like Adobe Photoshop). Thanks must go to my father, friends, tour guides, travelers and locals I met when traveling, even motorbike taxi, tuk tuk and cyclo drivers, who helped me take these photos. I hope you also like my Áo Dài.
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