Marine Karbowski // Sapa, Vietnam

Kurbowski Marine in Sapa, by Mukul Bhatia

Marine’s grandfather, who served the French Army, was killed in the Indo-China war by Vietnamese troupes. It was since then, that there is a sense of tension about Vietnam for Marine’s family, an interest that grew for Marine as she grew old in contemporary France and became an artist. She finally made her mind years ago to travel to Vietnam, and her visit in little mountain town of Sapa in northern Vietnam, was beyond magical. She kept Sapa as an inspiration for a long time when she returned to Paris.

One night, she decided to hear her calling, sold everything she had, took a few clothes, and left to build a new life in Vietnam and started living with the shamanic Hmong tribes since over 6 years now. She paints everyday life of contemporary Hmongs and raises money by selling her art in galleries across France.

Why Sapa?
“Call me a French romantic, but I honestly don’t know why, it was a calling I could not ignore, and I’ve honestly never felt more in place. When I see Hmongs tribes from my window, within the majestic mountains, with green fields and this sense of mystic energy, it’s a very good feeling. I love Hmong people and their traditions, their sense of connection with nature and strength to survive anything with happiness. That’s the mood of Sapa and I wish to live and create works around it.”

What’s your big purpose in Vietnam?
When I came to Vietnam, I observed there is zero painting or art education imparted to kids in high schools. As an artist, I really know how art can open minds and make people happy, and I decided to share my knowledge. Fortunately, I got huge funding for the cause from France, and I did some great workshops in Sapa with the kids Sadly, two months later, police stopped me because you cannot teach anything outside the school in Vietnam, its extremely restrictive here, and my French background doesn’t help. That’s my big purpose, and I am sure I will teach them again.

What’s your favourite food?
Tofu and tomato in the misty weather of Sapa. We live in fog for 9 months and its heavenly.

What did travel teach you?
I have travelled a lot in my life and every time it felt like it would be very hard to adjust to a new space all by myself, but after a while, it was really inspiring to have new people, culture and landscape. I think one can go anywhere in the world, nothing is inaccessible in 2016. By taking a chance, I’ve discovered a much peaceful life here in Sapa; something tailored for me. Waking up every morning to this village is a rich experience. I would like everyone getting more slow. In Paris, everyday I would say to myself I am happy but I wasn’t. I am happy here!

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