Kinh Wave – the introduction

by Danny Bach, June 5, 2017

Bài viết này có phiên bản tiếng Việt tại đây

Sa Pa town (Lao Cai province) is one of Vietnam’s most popular tourist destinations. Its majority inhabitants are from ethnic groups such as Hmong, Red Yao, Tay, Giay, Xa Pho and the Kinh.

In 2014, Hanoi to Lao Cai highway opened; Sa Pa tourism and economy have been developing dramatically since then. According to 2015 statistic, the number of tourists in the first quarter rose to 144.3% compared to the same period of 2014. Furthermore, Sa Pa development plan aims to attract more than five millions visitors in year 2030. Consequently, billions of dollars are being invested in Sa Pa real estate and tourism. Turning mountains into amusement parks, cable car system, villas and shop-houses.

Kinh Wave: the introduction is the first part of a long-term photographic project by Danny Bach. Kinh Wave is a combination of documentary portrait series, landscape images and audios. In order to record the life of minority ethnic people in Sa Pa, as well as the town transformation, under the influence of the new government development plan. Moreover, Kinh Wave is Danny’s interpretation and documentation of current Vietnam’s evolution era, in this particular case of Sa Pa when recently, the wave of Kinh (Vietnamese) immigrants together with our business plans has started engulfing.

Above of all, project Kinh Wave hopes to raise more concerns about corporate social responsibility during such a great advancement era, an extremely busy period of time in Sa Pa history.

Danny Bach 2017

Top image: A backpacker takes a nap in Sa Pa central garden.
Bottom image: Group of Hmong street vendors take a break during lunch time. If they do not work on their farms, they go to Sa Pa town to sell souvenirs to tourists.

Top image: Portrait of a pair Red Yao street vendors in Sa Pa town. Bottom image: A candid portrait of a Red Yao woman, she travels to Sa Pa town to sell her home grown gingers. She only can speaks Red Yao language.


Top left image: Men unload a truck full of steels used for hotel construction in Sa Pa. Top right image: Just outside of Sa Pa town, a pair of excavators make an area of forest-land ready for a construction. Bottom left image: A group of shop houses are being built just 1 km away from Sa Pa town. Bottom right image: A demolished site in Sa Pa town gets ready for new hotel construction.


Dusk Time in Sa Pa square. Night market is opened from 7pm, every Saturday.


A young Hmong man sells Hmong machetes in Sa Pa night market. Hmong smiths are often considered as highly skilled smiths.


Top image: A Hmong family street vendor watches their phone for entertainment.
Bottom image: The leftover – A Red Yao street vendor struggles to find a spot for her shop. She still has to carry it on her back. There are more and more people go to Sa Pa town to sell souvenirs as the time goes by. And there are not enough spots for all of them.

A group of Hmong youngsters takes wefie in Sa Pa market. They go there every Sunday to socialise. Most of them live in villages outside Sa Pa town.

In the village of Sin Chai (About 5kms away from Sa Pa), where the Black Hmong residents, stock animals often runs loose on the road, they eat only grass.


Family farming is a common practice in the village of Sin Chai, where an extended families join forces to work in each other farms. Their fields can be really high up on mountains.


Left image: A Hmong woman carries her goods home on her shoulder. She wears traditional Hmong working clothes, with a pair of rubber boots.
Middle image: Portrait of a young Hmong boy buffalo.
Right image: A Hmong woman carries her harvest home on her shoulder. Hmong people are like other ethnic groups, they still prefer to eat what they can grow.


Left image: A Hmong grandfather carries his two grandchildren home from shopping.
Middle image: After school, the children take care of smaller children while the adults are working on the farm.
Right image: A Hmong girl babysits her younger sister while the adults are out for work.


Portrait of two Hmong babies. One of them carries her laundry on her back.


Portrait of a Hmong church band.

Portrait of a Hmong church band.


A man sits in a Hmong Protestant church, he wears a sweater with hemp leaves symbols printed on it. One of Hmong traditional handicrafts is making clothes from Hemp plants. However, younger generations now prefer factory clothes for their convenience.

A group of men has conversation on a cliff in Ta Phin village, 10 kms away from Sa Pa town. A place where Kinh, Black Hmong and Red Yao live together.


A Red Yao (also known as Red Dao) boy works on his family farm. A child often starts working on the fields from the age of 5.


Top image: Red Yao furniture in a living room area.
Bottom image: Red Yao kitchen – Green veggies, eggs, pork, chicken and noodle or rice are the most common foods in ethnic families in Sa Pa.


A group of Red Yao women talks to tourists, they invite tourists to take a tour in their village. Many ethnic people sell souvenirs in their own villages instead of going to Sa Pa.


Top image: Bus chasing – A group of street vendors in Ta Phin run after a moving tourist van. This is one of the way they do to attract tourists to buy their products.
Bottom image: Portrait of a Hmong girl and her friend, a Red Yao girl. When the school is off, the children enjoy hanging out in the town central, some of them even sell souvenirs.

Hand embroidery

Top image: For many generations, Red Yao women spend most of their leisure time for the art of embroidery. Bottom image: Portrait of a Red Yao street vendor in mixed fashion.


Danny Bach (c) 2017