Journalist My Tra: Photographing Truong Sa with all the love of a mainlander

Last update: 07:00 | 24/03/2018

A bilingual Vietnamese – English picture book, entitled ‘Truong Sa – Noi Ta Den’ (Spratly Archipelago – Here We Come), was recently released in March by Nguyen My Tra, a journalist from the Voice of Vietnam.


Journalist Nguyen My Tra (middle) speaking at the launch of the book in Hanoi on March 12 (Photo:

Published by the Kim Dong Publishing House, the book features 150 photos highlighting the nature, life and people in Truong Sa, as well as the soldiers who are safeguarding Vietnam’s sovereignty day and night.

The photos were selected from thousands of photos taken during Tra’s ten-day working trip to the archipelago in 2017.

Before the book was introduced to the public, a selection of photos from the book was displayed at exhibitions held in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

The trip to Truong Sa is worth remembering for Tra. Despite being badly seasick while on board, Tra savoured every moment to capture everything she witnessed during the route: a rainbow after the rain over the top of a lighthouse, which was sat in the middle of the ship and the island at that moment, a dog on the edge of the island and looking to the skyline, a smile which brightened up the suntanned face of an island soldier, and naïve children on the island.

The stunning moments were captured not only through the lenses of a photographer but also with the love of a mainlander towards the country’s archipelago.

The memories are still alive in Tra’s mind. She said that ‘Truong Sa – Here We Come’ is not a book for readers to skim through and only scan for photos. Although it is a picture book, it has a lot of text as the author wants to write down and share all of the things she has leant and explored during her time in Truong Sa with those who haven’t had a chance to go there.

One of her favourite photos in the book is a picture of a square-shaped Malabar almond flower, a symbol of Truong Sa and an inspiration for every photographer who is lucky enough to set foot to the archipelago.

Tra recalled that her trip took place at a time when Truong Sa had a poor crop of the flower. She didn’t see any sign of the almond flower in any of the islands she visited. One evening when she returned to Truong Sa Lon island, she was surprised to see an almond flower blooming on the top of a tree.

However, it was challenging to get a sharp focus for the the photo as it was completely dark, and she had to stand on a tall chair to take the picture with the support of a flashlight from her friends.

The book received great appreciation from the naval soldiers at the launch ceremony in Hanoi on March 12.

Rear Admiral of the Vietnam People’s Navy, Pham Van Vung, said that Tra’s photos not only capture the rich and diverse landscape and nature of Vietnam’s seas and islands but also truthfully depicts the work and daily lives of the soldiers and people on Truong Sa and the DK1 platform.

He also appreciated the photographer for providing a fresh and humane look at the vitality, optimism, aspiration and determination of the navy soldiers and people in their joint mission of firmly safeguarding the country’s sovereignty over its sea and islands.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Tong Van Tung from Brigade 146 applauded that, in such a short time, only 10 days of her trip to Truong Sa, Tra successfully recorded simple moments in the lives of people and soldiers on the archipelago.

Selected photos from the picture book:


Cover of the 'Truong Sa - Here We Come' picture book 


A rainbow after the rain over the top of a lighthouse, which was sat in the middle of the ship and the island at that moment


A malabar almond flower




Nhan Dan

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