Colours of Vietnam – Orange

Orange, the colour that inspired this series.

This is what happened:

We’d only been back in Vietnam a few weeks and we were still rediscovering Ho Chi Minh City.

I was on the back of a motorbike, driving down a grimy little local street between the backpacker district and the river that was lined with marine supply shops.

A light drizzle was falling as we stopped for a traffic light. I looked left to see a blaze of orange. A man sat in front of his shop surrounded by mountainous swathes of brilliant orange tarpaulin that he was sternly pushing through his sewing machine.

As I admired the vivid colour, I suddenly noticed spots of orange flaring out along the street — fluorescent orange life jackets hanging in front of one shop, rolls of orange vinyl stacked in front of another shop and an orange-clad street sweeper making his way past the marine shops.

Then I noticed that the vibrant orange wasn’t drowning out the other colours of the street. Every colour suddenly seemed so intense — the green-and-white stripes of canvas awnings, the red energy drinks stacked up at a tiny drinks stall, the green sacks being filled at the ice-factory on the corner and the sapphire blue of the street sign.

I had no camera with me but the mesmerising colours of that everyday Ho Chi Minh City scene will stay with me forever.

We sat at the lights for only a couple of heartbeats and as we drove away I suddenly realised how few people could walk or drive down this grungy everyday city street and be dazzled by the beauty of it.

And so I started trying to take photos of colours. I love taking photos but my skills can’t capture what my eye sees. I don’t have the patience to learn how to be a better photographer, not with so many other demands and desires taking up every hour of every day.

So here’s my best effort to document some of Vietnam’s amazing oranges. (Most of the better photos in this series were taken by Darling Man who is so much more patient than me.) I never have made it back to that marine supply street with a camera. It’s on my list, obviously.

Here’s just some of the orange I’ve found on my adventures-with-a-camera.


Orange streetsweeper. Not the street sweeper in the marine supply street, just a guy doing his job on an average rainy day in Ho Chi Minh City’s wet season …
Orange 145


Dried orange. Sun-dried prawns under lights make this whole section of a market glow orange …

Orange 156


Street food orange. Mud crab claws at a sidewalk seafood joint. Just waiting to be cracked open, rolled in chilli and served.

Orange 171


Orange procession. Novice monks on their way to lunch in a temple in southern Vietnam. 


Orange sunset. Captured from a friend’s apartment in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 7.

Orange 197

Tasty orange. The orange of a prawn pops out of a fermented fish seafood hotpot, the local specialty of Chau Doc near the Vietnam-Cambodia border.

Orange 180


Hungry orange. A monk’s empty bowl.



Healthy orange. Strips of pickled carrot, one of the many ingredients that make up the delicious wraps at my favourite foggy rice paper joint.

Orange 196
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7 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.


  1. Nick Rutten says:

    Beautiful pictures! I loved Ho Chi Minh and I think Vietnam is my favorite S.E. Asia country. I’d love to get back there!

  2. Blair Owens says:

    Hi Barbara!
    I just found your blog and this was the first post I read. You seem like such a beautiful person and these pictures and excellent. I love the pops of orange, your eye is amazing. I am also a dropout so it’s nice to see someone else out there living life under their own rules. I would love to chat with you sometime!


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