alba and the world (part two: new zealand and vietnam)

when we were home from europe we found our mountains being torn apart by angry winds. we’d watch the storms shake the big trees past our balcony, as if they were only paper cut-outs.

the power was out for three winter nights. we made a nest from blankets, pillows and sheets and lit candles to read by. the constant rain meant we couldn’t collect firewood for a fire. i was glad alba was safe and warm in my belly. when the storm had left and the power returned we cooked pumpkin soup and sat in front of the fireplace, soaking up the heat.

afternoon naps & m’s guitar

sun setting from our balcony

where we play hours of board games

our home

ever-growing alba

my midwife, listening to alba’s heartbeat

a fire in the city

writing in alba’s journal, taken by claire

later we were on a flight to auckland, new zealand. we’d been hired by sony to shoot bic runga’s album cover. i never gave much thought to new zealand, never imagined how beautiful i would find it. we stayed in a 5 star hotel in the middle of the city. we were high up and had ceiling high windows that overlooked the bright nighttime bustle of auckland city. i’d go to bed with the curtains drawn wide just to immerse myself in it.

on day one we shot at piha, a black sand beach. clouds of dust floated like ghosts above the dark sand and dunegrass grew wild. it was deserted and felt like a dream. i photographed bic as she fell against the wind, hair dancing and alive.

the next day we shot at a park, where the paths were white with sheep being herded to and fro by sheepdogs. it felt like an english countryside with the rolling hills, dense woods and cool mist that fell softly upon everything. it began to rain and we finished shooting in bic’s home (which was cosy and populated by musical instruments).

papa’s hand over growing alba (14 weeks)

view from the hotel window

piha

bic at piha beach

cornwall park

the handsome filmmaker

shooting in the rocks

sharing pictures

bic and her sick boy

on the last day m and i explored auckland together, taking note of interesting things to later tell our daughter. i felt so lucky to be able to work and travel with my best friend, i hope i always can.

it is always so perfect to arrive home. to watch the sea of mountains coming into view from the train window, to step out and smell the cool, fresh air (like jasmine flowers and dewy grass) and to finally fall onto our daybed exhausted and content after dumping our luggage by the stairs. one of us always says something cheesy like ‘home, sweet home’ but it makes us smile.

we get a kind of travel high after a trip. where we are still filled with the excitement and spontaneity. if we’re home too long things become too dull. i think this is why we are so addicted to moving.

the train home from the airport

becoming a mother

alba waving hello

ultrasound

soon i flew to queensland to work for two weeks. i photographed model portfolios and i visited family and friends. m stayed home, planning my birthday trip and editing films. i missed him, but i was lucky to be surrounded by family. being apart in the beginning was torture, but i’ve slowly learnt to accept we can’t spend every moment together, and that there is a beauty in being alone.

cousin freya and her broken arm

driving into the full moon

dearest m took me to vietnam for my 19th birthday.  we’d often holidayed in indonesia together, but this was our first time in vietnam. it became our favourite place in the world soon after arriving.

we landed in saigon. there is this feeling i get when i arrive in a new city, like a fire has been lit in my stomach, that means no matter how exhausted i am from the journey i have to explore. it’s the closest feeling i have to the curious excitement i felt during childhood, when i didn’t know much of anything and there was so much newness in the world.

we walked down the busy streets with wide eyes. all was loud and bustling, street vendors sold vietnamese desserts from old carts and motorbikes almost skimmed our sides on their way past. we found a restaurant at the end of the busiest street. it was wooden and the floors were stacked on each other, the side facing the street was all balconies. we climbed steep, creaky steps to the top floor and from here we could see everything. i don’t think we spoke for 5 minutes, out of awe. eventually we ordered banana sinh to, vietnamese beer (for m of course) and chicken pho. it was a few dollars.

midnight walks

18 weeks

me upset, after a silly fight with m

that first night was magic. i sat on the lounge, barefoot, cross-legged and eating pho with chop sticks, feeling m’s hand on my growing belly, watching out over this chaotically beautiful city and i felt like the luckiest girl alive.

i wrote to alba in my journal while m told me how very perfect our life was right then, and i agreed with all my heart.

i turned 19 a few days later. we spent much of the day on the mekong river, stopping at different villages, buying homemade coconut candy, eating fruit from the fruit trees and then falling asleep on the boat ride back to the city. we went out for dinner and as much as i’d imagined having some amazing vietnamese food, all i craved was a big, juicy beef burger and deep fried french fries. it was kind of funny really, seeing as though i’ve never been a meat eater.

growing bump. on the speedboat back to the city

m’s scribbles with a broken pen

i didn’t take many pictures on this trip. a huge downside to shooting professionally is if you overwork yourself, picking up the camera just feels like a job all over again. i know one day i won’t do campaigns anymore. i will have exhibitions and release books of all the images i took for love (not money).

one night on a walk through the streets it began to rain so heavy the roads flooded like little rivers and we held our shoes in our hands and kicked the water as we ran. lightning lit the skies and the little rivers and we splashed one another, holding hands and laughing like children. we found a cosy restaurant and ate dessert for dinner, listening to the thunder.

we caught a night train to nha trang next. we stayed in a fancy hotel on the beach but it all felt too money-driven to us, too western influenced. we spent the moments where day became night in the ocean, the bright lights from the building on the shore glittering in the waves. i clung to m’s back, resting my head in the warm space on his shoulder, thinking about how our daughter would fall asleep like this one day. how lucky she is to have someone so loving and kind-hearted as her father.

my love

nha trang city

afterwards we’d walk along the sand for a long time, letting the memory of the sun (still there in the heat of the nighttime air) dry us. past the rollerskating children, the blind beggars and the lovers kissing on the beach.

we flew to hoi an last of all. this was a beach town too, but with so much more life and character. the roads were dusted with sand and everyone was barefoot and smiling.

weary, warm days all melted into each other. we spent so many afternoons playing childish games and laughing in the water, our sinh tos (fruit smoothies) at the pool’s edge. we bought our daughter tiny trinkets, hand-sewn stuffed animals and soft scarves from markets, and felt her tiny kicks. a little person that was made from our love, a little person that is us.

my birthday dinner

it was the romantic summer of my teenage dreams made real. there is a nostalgic sadness in remembering the bliss, knowing the only way to relive the moments is in my mind.

home again. here i grew, and i grew, and my belly was as round as i’d always dreamed. here we fell deep in love with alba and she learned our voices, the soundtrack to her world. we built her a library of treasured books found on our journeys. we had our first ultrasound in a big, white hospital in the city and we saw her dance with tiny ankles and long fingers. the midwives visited our home and we heard her strong, musical heartbeat. our little girl.

most images taken by my love
cousins sommer & belle
midnight walks
birthday cuddles from a snake
waves crashing, 19 weeks

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  16. Your blog and pictures are amazing, such an inspiration! I almost can't find any words for it rather than Breathtaking Love, x S.

  17. these are BEAUTIFUL.
    your pictures and words provoked emotion in me, especially the ones of florence.
    you are an inspiration to me.

  18. this is all so very beautiful. the photo of you sitting in the sand as the waves crash around you is breathtaking. i've hardly seen a picture more beautiful. youre going to be a wonderful mother<3

  19. Este blog é uma representação exata de competências. Eu gosto da sua recomendação. Um grande conceito que reflete os pensamentos do escritor.

  20. I've been following "We live young" for a long time but I never thought that you would visit my country! I'd like to thank you for all your kind comments after the trip!

  21. I'm glad you wrote again.

    It seems to me like you've changed since the last time, there's something different in your words. I send my love to you, Matt and Alba.

    Your home is beautiful.

  22. AN AMAZING blog you have…

    the photographs your LOVE takes are just incredibly beautiful … the chemistry you have with the lens is just magical…

    following you now!!! kisses for ALBA:)

    ♥ Label me ADDICT ♥

  23. i've been sitting in front of my computer for a few minutes now. i don't know which words to chose. i'm not sure how to explain exactly how beautiful you are – in every possible way; whether it's your perception of life, the family you are building with m, your writing, or abla's wonderful nest (your belly).
    you manage to capture something i simply can't find words for. and you see. you truly see. and you live. both the good and the bad. that's something i have yet to learn. my stomach hurts when i think of the possibility that i might now be able to learn that. i just don't want to live life according to what is expected and how you are supposed to live. not for the purpose of being something else, something different than everyone else. that's not why. i just want to be able to truly see. and to live. like you. so thank you for being my inspiration.

  24. oh nim i love the last image of our rock!i think it may well be one of my favorite places in the world,especially when standing upright,feeling as though i am on the edge of the world!remember how strange it felt standing there at night,like underneath was a complete abyss.. you look so beautiful as always darling,i'm glad to see you not hiding your beautiful face like in my phone pics haha.

  25. I live in Saigon and when I read this entry, I really wish I had seen you here, you such a wonderful person I've ever known ! Happy belated birthday and thank you for your beautiful words about my country 🙂

  26. finally, i was being so impatient whenever i went on blogger because i was always wondering when you would post part two of alba and the world. your belly looks beautiful, so do you. i also love your home. looking forward reading part 3? 😉
    artandloveandme.blogspot.com

  27. Oh goodness, the way you write and live is something I dream of. Photos are brilliant, as always and the photos of YOU are magnificent! It's lovely to see the person behind the photos.
    Your daughter is so lucky.

    Always sending love from Canada.

  28. you are beautiful. you inspire me to enjoy every moment of my life.
    and i giggled at the one photo Matt took of you upset. my Josh does that to me all the time when we have little nonsense arguments.

  29. this is such a magical story, pictures and words are amazing. alba will grow up with lovely parents. x

  30. i hope your stomach didn't hurt when you were on the speedboat, because when i went on a speedboat from patong to phi phi island it was SO bumpy and painful i needed a massage straight after lol.

  31. Ive been wanting this post for such a long time! It's a really strange thing, I don't know you at all but I find myself thinking, I wonder how nirrimi and matt and baby alba are? Beautiful pictures, as always, and I wish the three of you all the luck and love in the world. You will be the most incredible family.

  32. I don't know what to say,, I've been waiting for your post for ages! Now I'm speechless.. every word and every captures are amazing! it's like you guys are like the only focal point and the entire world revolves around you! there is so much love and it's beautiful!
    Wish you three all the best!

    Azaa

  33. Ooooh thank you, i was desperate to see more pictures and read about you, i'm so happy!
    I already have seen some of these photos on facebook, but still, everytime a see "waves crashing, 19 weeks" it caches my eyes for a few seconds.
    And now there is also the first one of this post "afternoon naps & m's guitar" that I find is one of the most beautiful you've ever posted here. So warm so peacful so perfect.

    I send you all three my best wishes from France!

    Clara

  34. i am so happy to see something from you, and m, again. i have missed your beautiful writing and stunning imagery, and this exquisite, long post has definitely covered the absence. alba is such a lucky girl.

  35. I'm always so excited to see an update on your blog and this one is one of my favourites, what a beautiful post, beautiful words and beautiful photographs. Thank you for sharing x

  36. Hi doll,
    I'm from Vietnam and I have seen these pictures before, but I had no idea they were taken in Vietnam. You made it so beautiful and powerful. Thank you and all good wishes for you and your little family <3

  37. Thank you for sharing glimpses of your life with us. I'm almost in tears at how happy you are. Alba is so fortunate to have you and m.

  38. just a year ago you turned 18 and now its like you've turned 30 …you are like full grown wise woman in a matter of months… beautiful

  39. Most every picture I said to myself, "Beautiful shot…" and didn't realize, until the end, that they were m's pictures. you both have a different eye, but i am just starting to learn that.
    i love everything about this blog. alba is one very lucky girl, and you guys will be very lucky parents. the journal, the photos, the books…. great ideas. n, you're giving me baby fever!! not okay.
    best wishes!
    a.

  40. this is so beautiful and so mesmerizing. when i read what you write, i want to be you. which is silly because i have my own life to build, but you seem so together, so definite.

  41. I'm pretty sure that you know what I'm going to say, but I'll say it anyway, ja.
    I'm from Italy, and in italian Alba meant sunrise.
    I think is the perfect name for a young life like the one that's growing in you. She will be the happiest child on heart, beacause she have wonderful parents.

  42. Hand on heart I read this entire post and have no idea where to start in saying how much I loved it. Your travels and work sound like endless adventures, being enjoyed by two talented people with so much love for not just one another but also who you are soon bringing into the world. Beautiful!

  43. wow Nirrimi! Congratulations, I'm impressed. I love the way you capture moments that can be gone forever, and the way you capture the true essence of life and beauty. Even though your photographs are processed, they look so naturally beautiful and breathtaking. I hope you and Matt are happy with Alba. You will be such a great mom.

    Victor x

    http://digitalogphoto.blogspot.com/

  44. my heart is glowing from reading this post, i sit here all rugged up on the couch listening to the neighbours too-loud television and soaking in your sweet words and photographs full of life, escaping reality. i feel like if i close my eyes i can imagine how wonderful these places and memories must have been, i feel the same nostalgic loneliness reliving moments that were so beautiful in my own past.
    this post has made my very quiet, lonely night so much better. my lover is working 55 hour weeks slaving away in a kitchen and i am learning to live most of my days alone, it's awful but also interesting to be ones only company for hours on end, i know how awful you must feel being away from M.
    you inspire me in so many ways nirrimi, thank you for this beautiful post, and for opening my eyes in so many ways

  45. Amazing. Amazing. Amazing. You're such inspiring, responsible, and loving parents. There's just so much difference in your life than… Anyone I know. Such a pureness and deep beauty. Congratulations on Alba's growing. You're all precious and make me feel the urge to carry on when there's days I feel stuck and restless. You guys show me there's plenty to look forward to, and to be patient.

  46. Hey, is it okay for me to post your first image on my blog, filmfashionphotography.tumblr.com?
    With full credit to you, of course.

  47. This is incredibly beautiful! It's magic. You and Matt are magic. Alba will be so proud of having you as parents. She will be a very very very very happy girl.

  48. This is amazing Nirrimi. You are stunning, you are magical and you deliver everything. Every beauty moment . You are really one of the special girl I know.
    Take care

  49. your photos and writings are amazing. I think we are all very honored that you and m share this all with us. it's incredibly lovely.

    Im vietnamese and love Vietnam as well, though I've been born and grew up in Germany. Wil you go back some day to Vietnam maybe and explore the north? 🙂

  50. Long time no see. Glad to read your new update.

    I enjoy reading your experience so much. The photo together with the words are so good.

    Anyway, your daughter have a great mum and dad.

  51. i'm so happy that you updated!! i'm also happy that you find my country (new zealand) so beautiful <3 i love your photographs and your writing so so much, i can't wait to see what you get up to next 🙂 x

  52. This is really beautiful! Every picture and word is oh so beautiful! And that last picture was just WOW! Amazing! I love how much this baby is loved and adored before it is even born, how much it's being told and showed, in a way. How amazingly beautiful <3 Oh!

  53. it´s an honor to be the first.
    Thank you for taking me on a journey again.
    Your photos speak to me and tell me your story.
    All colors are so serene and calming that I can stare at them for hours.
    I can breath the fresh air and smell the woods.
    Your daughter is fortunate to have young and responsible parents like you are.
    much love,sofie

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