June 17, 2004: Headlines: COS - Armenia: Photography: Packet Online: Dennis Price recently joined the Peace Corps to teach small business and community development in Armenia

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Armenia: Peace Corps Armenia : The Peace Corps in Armenia: June 17, 2004: Headlines: COS - Armenia: Photography: Packet Online: Dennis Price recently joined the Peace Corps to teach small business and community development in Armenia

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Dennis Price recently joined the Peace Corps to teach small business and community development in Armenia

Dennis Price recently joined the Peace Corps to teach small business and community development in Armenia

Dennis Price recently joined the Peace Corps to teach small business and community development in Armenia

Up Close with Hospitality

By: Susan Van Dongen , TimeOFF 06/17/2004

The Prices of Montgomery make friends in foreign lands with their digital cameras.

Dennis A. Price's urge to roam was inherited from his father, Dennis P. Price, an emergency-room physician and world traveler. An image from Vietnam by Mr. A. Price.

In the movie Apocalypse Now, the phrase "never get off the boat" was a metaphor for American troops to stay within the comfort zone of the Western military presence in Vietnam to avoid involvement with the native people and their culture. The line was spoken by the character Chef (Frederic Forrest) after he and Col. Willard (Martin Sheen) stop their Navy river patrol boat to go ashore and search for mangoes in the jungle. They don't find any, but they do stumble on a tiger, which scares them nearly to death as they run back to the vessel.

"Never get off the boat," Chef mutters to himself as they speed away up the river.

On his trip to Southeast Asia, Dennis A. Price did get off the boat and he took his camera. The result is a photography exhibit, Pictures from the World, a joint effort by Mr. Price, his brother David Price and their father Dennis P. Price. Their collection of digital photographs is on view at Orpha's Coffee Shop in Skillman through June 30.

The Prices, who live in Montgomery, have captured faces and moments from Iceland, Turkey, Cuba, India and Southeast Asia. Mr. Price says certain destinations, particularly in Laos, were so unusual and far removed from life in America, it didn't even seem like he was on the same planet.

"Parts of Laos were like that, just a jungle," he says. "We were going down the Mekong River, through Laos, Cambodia and Thailand with a bunch of other backpackers pretty much roughing it. At night, we'd stop and pull off the river to a little village of maybe just 100 or 200 people. Everyone would get off the boat and the people would approach us and say, 'Come stay with us.' So we'd find someone to stay with, have something to eat, maybe drink some of the local beer. These villages were very obscure, way out there. Few of them had electricity. Then we'd get up the next day, go farther down the river and find another village."

Most of the time the lodging was free an example of the hospitality he found to be standard on many of his foreign excursions.

He experienced the same kind of generosity in India. One of Mr. Price's favorite pictures in the exhibit is a shot of his surprise host, a bare-chested man, standing at the entrance of his home, portraits of various Hindu gods and goddesses displayed over the doorway.

"We had taken a backwater boat trip and the captain and crew of the boat took us to meet their family," he says. "This old man was the father of one of the crew members. He invited us into their house, we met the rest of the family and had dinner with them."

Again, Mr. Price was amazed that strangers would have so much trust unheard of in security-obsessed America.

"It's unbelievable," he says. "I can't picture that going on here renting a canoe or a boat and having the crew ask you back to meet their families."

However, if the hospitality was unusually inviting in some of the far-flung locales, the native fare was not. Take the deep-fried birds complete with necks and feet still attached he was offered in Vietnam.

The Prices were the only Americans on a small bus waiting to go to Ho Chi Minh City. Women vendors came up to the windows of the vehicle, bearing trays with their wares.

"This was somewhere in the Mekong Delta in this little town where my friend's dad had been stationed in the war," he says. "It was this steaming hot day and we were sitting on this local bus, all filled with women on their way to the market in the city. One lady came up to the window with these birds for sale."



On that day, in the spirit of foreign travel, he might have considered sampling the deep-fried birds momentarily, but "when I look at them now there's no way," Mr. Price says with a laugh. "I wouldn't touch them. But I love this photo because she's so proud to be getting her picture taken and the women behind her and beside her are giggling."

Mr. Price's urge to roam was inherited from his father, Dennis P. Price, an emergency-room physician at Princeton Hospital and Bellevue Hospital in New York. A world traveler, the elder Mr. Price has been taking digital photographs for about four years. He uses a simple point-and-shoot technique, which allows him to get close to his subjects. The elder Mr. Price often traveled to meet doctors in other nations and compare notes on emergency-room treatment. When his sons became old enough, they joined him.



"We've been able to combine a growing interest in digital photography with our experiences with people and landscapes of different parts of the world," the younger Mr. Price says.

A 2003 graduate of Boston College with a degree in economics, Mr. Price recently joined the Peace Corps to teach small business and community development in Armenia. He chatted about the photography show just two days before setting out on a two-year assignment.

"No one is going to speak English there," he says, chagrined. "I'm going to have to learn Armenian."

Mr. Price had been experimenting with digital photography for about three years, but was "still finding my niche," he says. The marriage of travel with photography was a perfect match, and after a few trips the three men realized they had the makings of an exhibit.

"It was actually my brother's idea to put a show together from all our (travel) pictures," Mr. Price says. "We have so many of them. (David) was the one who wanted to find a common theme, though."

The more the men traveled, the more confident they became with investigating countries farther and farther away. Mr. Price's friend suggested a trip to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam because his father had been in the war, and Mr. Price jumped at the opportunity to photograph these distant lands.

They could still see the effects of the conflict that ended almost 30 years ago. The roads, for example, were physical evidence of the war's aftermath.

"We took a bus to the Cambodian border to Angkor Wat," Mr. Price says. "The roads in Cambodia are just terrible, mottled from the mines that had been exploded there. We rode on a bus that just bounced up and down for six hours. When we finally stopped and got out, these children ran up to us and said, in perfect English, 'You want a Coke?' Which meant they wanted us to give them money so they could buy a Coke."

The children were sophisticated enough to know Coke from Pepsi, but they were amazed by a tool Americans take for granted a pencil.

"My friend Chris brought out a notebook and pencil and wrote their names down," Mr. Price says. "They were just awed by it."

Other signs of the Vietnam war were apparent when Mr. Price encountered men of a certain age in Ho Chi Minh City.

"There are these guys, probably about 50 or 60 years old, who pedal (bicycle) rickshaws around, and they fought alongside American soldiers in the war," he says. "The government doesn't take care of them, so this is what they have to do for a living. When you see it today, it just boggles the mind to think about what we were doing over there. And the people embrace us, like we were their neighbors.

"I don't think I ran into one instance of hostility," he continues. "You get the normal petty crime, but no confrontations. The people were warm and generous, even though they don't have anything. That's why I had such a fascination with these pictures, especially the close-ups. They capture that warmth coming from the people. Some of them might look at us with curiosity, some might not even know what a camera is. But generally they're just happy to talk and get to know us."

Pictures from the World, digital photography by Dennis A. Price, Dennis P. Price and David Price, is on view at Orpha's Coffee Shop, 1330 Route 206, No. 103-300, Skillman, through June 30. Hours: Mon.-Fri. 7 a.m.- 6:30 p.m., Sat. 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Sun. 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Orpha's is open until 10 p.m. on alternate Friday nights for musical events. For information, call (609) 430-2828. On the Web: www.orphas.com. The Price photographers on the Web: www.reganexperiment.com

©PACKETONLINE News Classifieds Entertainment Business - Princeton and Central New Jersey 2004

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Story Source: Packet Online

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