The "Little Saigon" that I saw in Garden Grove

When I was in California, two weeks ago, I was able to check out just an "icing" of the Vietnamese community.  I do wish I spent more time there, but split time with being with family and this project. 

What I did see was an extremely vibrant community.  One that I know that I will be returning to.  Well whenever I head back to California that is.  Where I went to were banh mi shops, which are very numerous, hair salons, and super markets.  I did get into trouble at a super market.  I just had my camera around my chest and a security guard came up to me and told me no photographs are allowed inside. 

This community is really a self sustaining one and growing.  Everywhere I went, there were political signs for Vietnamese politicians.  It looks like this community has really adapted, but maintained our Vietnamese culture when they moved here. 


Be a part of "Searching for Little Saigon in America."

I was on my flight to Irvine when I drafted these questions.  As I hope to put this entire project into book form, I am slowly working on a long form essay to help build this narrative.  But it can't just be from literary research.  I need to get stories from others in it just as much as I want to put the photographs in.  If you want to be photographed and/or be a part of this story, "Searching for Little Saigon in America" kindly email me: ted@tednghiem.com or fill out the following questionnaire.  I would love to photograph and interview you!

  • Where were you born in Vietnam?
  • What were some of your fondest memories?
  • What were some of your worst memories?
  • When did you leave Vietnam?
  • When did you arrive in America?
  • What were your first impressions of America?  Did America fulfill those impressions and or goals that you had before coming to America?
  • What do you miss from Vietnam?
  • How long have you been living in the United States?
  • What foods do you miss from Vietnam if you cannot find them or the ingredients here?
  • Has the transition from Vietnam to America changed the food, the way you eat, and or the way the food is prepared in any way?
  • Are all or some of your family members living outside of Vietnam?
  • Do you plan on going back to Vietnam in the near future?  If so what kind of memories and traditions do you miss there that you can't recreate in the US?
  • How did you situate in your current location?
  • What are your dreams for the future?  For yourself, your spouse and or children?
  • Did you meet the goals or dreams in America that you dreamed of before coming to the country?
  • How do you see Vietnamese culture in America?  Is it the same as in Vietnam or has it transformed?  For better or for worse?
  • What traditions of your family do you hope to be passed on?
  • What do you think of the food in America?  The culture of food?  Has it affected Vietnamese cuisine?

These days are for grilling

It is the 4th of July weekend.  A day where Americans celebrate our independence by watching fireworks and grilling up some food.  But more importantly give our appreciation and love to our country and our military who sacrifice so much.

This weekend, I grilled up some hot dogs to make some chili dogs, bun thit ngon, and went off to start my new personal photography project.  Searching for Little Saigon.

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Personal Projects

So as my plotted ideas of heading Vietnam has been shuttered, for a year, I still want to get some essence of Vietnamese culture in photographs.  I still work and have about nineteen vacation days, I know first world issues, and will be in Texas and California this summer.  So that said, I would have a smaller amount of days to be in Vietnam.  And if you are heading all that way you should shoot for a month or more.  

So hopefully I will have accumulated enough money, with more incoming money from my photography work, to quit my job and go.  Or wait till I can just head there for a full month to head to Vietnam and photograph the life and food.  Since Philadelphia, and the cities that I visit, have their own Vietnamese communities, I will start this project off with exploring those areas.  

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Surely nothing would compare, in terms of experiencing Vietnam, but this will be pretty close and suffice till then.  I am still trying to get farms to let me photograph them and their workers, but, emailing and waiting is a slow game.  So I am just going to work on a couple photography projects.  

So that's what's going to go on for a little bit.  If you want to see where I go to explore and eat, keep your eyes on this blog!