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Fabulous Photo Shoot: Vietnam Rice Paddies

Rice Harvest Scene


by Liz Margulus, guest blogger

Photos by Liz and Mike Margulus 

My husband, Mike, and I have been very fortunate. We’ve traveled extensively in the U.S. (primarily out west) and internationally. While we don’t indulge in travel luxuries, we have been privileged to see some beautiful scenery and experience many different cultures. We’ve gained meaningful insights along the way: the impact of Norway’s high minimum wage on their economy, the pride of the Scottish in their Gaelic roots, the incredible diversity of Iceland’s “fire and ice” terrain, and the similarity between the basic behavior of us humans and the wild animals on an African safari.

Though we’ve documented experiences primarily through our very deliberate photographic work, I would like to share some of our impressions from a recent trip to Viet Nam.

Terraced Rice Paddy

 Except for one day in Hanoi, our entire stay in Viet Nam was in the mountainous area far north of Hanoi. Our primary interest was in photographing the terraced rice paddies during the fall harvest season. Often built on hilly or mountainous terrain, these rice paddies decrease erosion and surface runoff. This form of agriculture has been widely used for thousands of years throughout Asia as well as in Europe and South America.

Red Hmong Women at Market

We were shocked to learn that Viet Nam’s population is about 90 million, much larger than that of Great Britain, France, or Australia. “Viet Nam is a multi-ethnic country with over fifty distinct groups, each with its own language, lifestyle and cultural heritage.” Many of the smaller ethnic groups live in the northern mountains. We were impressed by their strong work ethic and their very happy dispositions, their intense respect for their elders, and by the expectation for very young girls to take on familial responsibilities. It was also a surprise to see how important a role the motor scooter plays in the economy and lifestyle of Viet Nam. The motorcycle most often serves as the only means of transportation for a family of four!

10 Year Old with Baby Brother



Family of 3-Look Closely_2

While the presence of the Vietnamese Communist Party is pervasive, capitalism thrives and has been growing ever since the economic reforms of the early 1990’s.

Lien Hoang Mountain Range near Sapa

As I alluded to above, our general means of documenting our travels has been through our photographs. We would love to share those with you and invite you to visit our non-commercial website, for more pictures of Viet Nam and many other places such as Chicago and New York City, villages throughout Europe, the Galapagos Islands, Africa and more. Enjoy!



Liz Margulus has been a lifelong educator in the Grand Rapids Public Schools and for the past fifteen years an associate professor at Grand Valley State University. She and her husband, Mike, have traveled extensively throughout the world. She shares her husband’s love of photography to enhance their travel experiences.



Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.


  1. posted by
    peggy depersia
    Jan 6, 2015 Reply

    Extraordinary photos; as magical as illustrations in a fairy tale book through the eyes of a young child. Beautiful!

  2. posted by
    Jan 6, 2015 Reply

    Vietnam has been on my list of places to visit in my lifetime…from your photos, I’m inspired to put this country closer to the top of the list. Thank you for sharing.

    • posted by
      Susan J. Smith
      Jan 6, 2015 Reply

      Jack and I traveled in this part o f Vietnam but in Jan. Didn’t get to see the rice paddies in these glorious colors. So appreciate the wonderful photographs.

  3. posted by
    ann cabezas creed
    Jan 6, 2015 Reply

    Beautiful photos which tell extraordinary stories.
    Thanks for sharing. Ann Cabezas Creed

  4. posted by
    Marie Preston
    Jan 6, 2015 Reply

    Spectacular photos Liz and Mike . . . amazing colors, scenes, and faces! Thanks for posting Susan!

  5. posted by
    Barb and Dean
    Jan 6, 2015 Reply

    Fantastic photos that we were privilaged to see with you. So glad more can enjoy them. We urge others to go to your website.

  6. posted by
    Kathy Eason
    Jan 11, 2015 Reply

    I have long admired the trips my sister Liz and brother in law Mike have taken. So proud and impressed with your beautiful photos. Looking forward to seeing more!!
    Thanks for sharing…

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