Ten years ago, when mathematics lecturer Prabu Mohan, an Indian national, received a job offer from British University Vietnam, he had no intention of spending a decade in the Southeast Asian country.
Though he had no friends or connections in Vietnam, the image he built for himself of what life in Vietnam could be for him made the move feel like the start of an exciting adventure.
“I wanted to try to spend at least a year [in Vietnam] and see how it went," Mohan told Tuoi Tre News.
"Now, I will be finishing up my 10th year here at the end of 2021.
“When I decided to visit Vietnam, I read a lot about the cost of living, food, and other things.
"But what surprised me more was the friendly Vietnamese people.
“I didn’t know a single person in Vietnam but I never felt like a stranger, even on day one.
"In every stage of the last ten years, I have met so many people who have offered to help me in many ways.”
|A collage of photos of Hanoi taken by Prabu Mohan and shared on his Instagram handle @the_prabster with the caption 'Hanoi, I can safely say, my home away from home, after being here almost a decade.'|
In June 2020, Mohan took a six-week road trip between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Prior to the trip, some of his friends warned him against driving alone, but Mohan had already set his heart on doing the 5000+ km trip solo and using the time he was not driving to indulge his passion for photography.
“I met a lot of photographers along the way who gave me ideas about places to visit during the trip," he recalled.
"It was a fun-filled experience."
Mohan features many of his photos on his Instagram account @the_prabster, where his 4,000 followers have the opportunity to take in the beauty of landscapes, cities, and bits of daily life that he captures with his camera lens.
“A lot of my friends in India have told me that my photos make them want to visit Vietnam," Mohan said.
"Meanwhile, here in Vietnam, expats often message me to ask for tips and how to get to some of the places featured in my photos.
“I’m not sure whether I’m really inspirational, but I would be happy if my photos and trips truly did inspire people to explore this beautiful country.”
|'Is it a painting? No, it’s an aerial view of rice terraces in the northern mountains of Vietnam during water season.' Photo and caption by @the_prabster|
After a decade of living in Vietnam and seven years of pursuing his passion for photography, Mohan believes that the country offers infinite inspiration to photographers.
“There are so many places to explore and even venues I’ve already visited seem to be in a state of constant change depending on the season or weather,” he explained.
“I remember during my first visit to Mu Cang Chai [in northern Yen Bai Province] in 2015, there were not many tourists or homestays.
"Now, the situation there is very different.
“Even in Hanoi things are changing.
"Back in 2012, there were very few shopping malls, but now there are many because Vietnam is developing so fast.
"There are changes in every aspect of life here.”
|Fireworks to welcome 2021 in Hanoi. Photo: Prabu Mohan|
In April 2020, one of Mohan's photos went viral of a building in Hanoi festooned with national flags in solidarity with the country’s fight against COVID-19
Entitled 'We Are In It Together,’ the photo won the first prize in the ‘World in Lockdown’ section of the Editorial category at the 2020 Aerial Photography Awards held six months later.
“The reason [why I won], I think, is that some photos attract a wider audience because people are able to connect with the piece on an emotional level,” Mohan said.
“[We Are in It Together] related to COVID-19 at a time when everyone was unsure about the virus.
"It gave everyone confidence that we could fight [the virus] together.”
Mohan is currently in India after taking a vacation and expected to be back in Hanoi late this month.
Below are some of his stunning photos:
|Prabu Mohan took this photo in Sa Pa, a popular resort town in Lao Cai Province of northern Vietnam, minutes before sunset.|
|A photo from above captures the Tam Tien fish market in Quang Nam Province, central Vietnam.|
|'Back in action after COVID-19. A colorful corner in Hanoi. Ta Hien street, also known as the beer street.' Photo and caption by Prabu Mohan|
|A bookstore in Hanoi captured by Prabu Mohan|
|'Star trails at Ganh Da Dia in Phu Yen. It’s been a while since I did star trails. The trouble is I have to shoot for at least 2 hours to get some good trails. So leaving the camera out and sitting idle is sometimes boring considering the 3 hours. But this time, I decided to camp here, hence it wasn’t much of a trouble.' Photo and caption by Prabu Mohan |
|'A top-down view of Hoi An ancient town, one of the most vibrant and colorful places in Vietnam.' Photo and caption by Prabu Mohan|