Saturday morning I woke up just before dawn. The bed in my hotel room was right next to the window, so why I’ll was still laying there I leaned over and pulled the curtains aside to take a peek outside. Thank God, I wasn’t disappointed in what I saw. Clear blue skies, with strands of thin, wispy clouds, illuminated bright pink in the early morning light. My friend was already getting dressed to go outside and shoot some stuff down at Xuan Huong Lake. Read more »
So, another weekend, another trip. Saturday was the anniversary of the death of King Hung Vuong in Vietnam, and it’s a public holiday here. Several years ago I took a short trip to Dalat on the same occasion, but at the time I had no clue it was a special day at all, and basically through dumb luck I stumbled upon a large festival commemorating the event at a set of 3 pagodas located on a hill above Prenn waterfall, about 10 kilometers outside of the town. Read more »
Sunday morning, 5am… the alarm on my phone goes off. I usually have an almost uncontrollable urge to destroy my cell phone when this happens. When I was a kid I would spend summers at my grandparents’ house in Ohio. My grandfather, a navy man in his time, used to sing this song early in the morning, often before the sun came up: “Oh how I hate to get up in the morning! Oh, how I hate to get out of bed! One day I’ll find that dirty pup, the one that wakes the bugler up, and spend the rest of my days in bed”. Read more »
Have you ever wondered how rubber is made? No? You haven’t? Well, I never really wondered about it much either until I realized that rubber plantations look really beautiful and are a great place to take photos.
After being back in Saigon for a couple of weeks without a single free day, it was time for a trip out of the city! I called in to work, canceled the entire weekend and Monday morning, and a good photographer friend and I decided to head out towards the northwest corner of Binh Phuoc province, along a stretch of what was once an authentic part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
The next day of Hmong New Year was supposed to be much of the same. Another bullfight, more tennis ball tossing. More Hmong girls in traditional costumes wearing sunglasses and talking on cellphones. I’d already gotten quite a bit of nice material of both subjects, plus I was a bit hungover from the the bombshell barbecue, so I woke up a bit late. After a headachey breakfast and a couple of much-needed stiff coffees at our favorite local eatery “Craters” (two huge unexploded bombs in front for decoration) we headed over to the bullfight.
I’ve complained to a few different people back at home and in other parts of the world that I’ve been very, very cold throughout much of this trip. Everybody seems surprised to find out that it could be cold here, usually fuelled by a belief that every corner of Southeast Asia must be a sweltering sweat hole. Well, during the hot season that is true, the heat in Laos can be unbearable, but during the winter much of the country is quite cold indeed. Much of the country is at a higher altitude, which in and of itself will cool things down quite a bit, and large parts of the north/north central area of Laos are really more influenced by the weather patterns in southern China than they are by the southern monsoons.