There is no doubt about how fortunate I am in life.
I was schooled in some of best schools in 3 different countries, given the opportunity to learn English as the second language at the age of 4 with two different tutors, piano/keyboard lessons at the age of 5, French lessons courtesy of my late grandfather at the age of 6, and choral singing lessons at the age of 7 by my primary school in Saigon of which the choir won competitions and was selected to perform for televised events. At 14, I was selected to study philosophy and did projects with university scholars, at 16 France came calling with a 3-weeks exchange that would change my life, at 17 my passport had been stamped more than most Singaporeans could dream, with a visa by invitation to Russia for a Model United Nations conference. And the list goes on.
If I am not lucky, blessed or privileged, then who is?
Friends who know me also know I worked hard for some of those things to happen. But I would admit that it was down to my good fortune and luck 80-90% of the time. If not for my mother who was a risk taker, I would not be so different from so many other Vietnamese girls. Who knows, I could be one of those sales girls you encounter on the Saigon streets.
Every trip back to my birthplace reminds me of how fortunate I am. How much of this life has been extraordinarily good. How much more I have than those children sleeping on the pavements.
This shoot was taken in the most affluent part of not just Saigon, but of the entire Vietnam. But just as Hollywood is not America, this place is not Saigon or Vietnam. Vietnam is mostly rural, divided greatly between the haves and the have-nots, home to the destitute selling their children on a kart, as well as the super-rich to whom a $1000 pair of jeans is small change.
As much power and privileges are given, as great is the responsibility. If one dreams of working for the UN in Geneva to change the world, then start making those changes right where you are. Look around and see the darkness in the shadows of beauty. If only there are the ‘retouch’ and ‘adjust’ buttons for the realities of our world.
Thank you for reading and have a great weekend.
With special thanks and photo credits to my guest photographer and nephew Nguyen Nhat Duc.
Shot at dusk at an empty hotel construction site in Phu My Hung District, Saigon.
Jumpsuit: Tequila Ladies (retailed £20 @Saigon) Belt: Unbranded (retailed £2.30 @Saigon Square 2, Saigon) Shoes: Bata (sale £6 @Singapore) Hat: Daiso (retailed £1 @Singapore) Bag: Hachi by Missy Kirei (sale £10 @The Cathay, Singapore) Flower Corsage: H&M (sale £1) Necklace: Unbranded (retailed £1.50 @Bugis Street ,Singapore) Earrings: Jubilant Jewellery (retailed £1.50, forthcoming)
Top: Banana Republic (old sale £5) Skirt: A#eeshow (retailed £9 @Saigon Square 1, Saigon) Flower Hair Corsage: H&M (old sale £2) Maybelline Volum’ Express The Rocket Mascara (Sale £5.99 at Boots) Rimmel London Apocalips Lip Lacquer in Luna (retailed £6.59 @ASOS) Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Coral Reef (discontinued, retailed £1.99 @FragranceDirect)