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ho chi minh city

Photography

Six degrees of separation

Ole from Fronterra and one of my friends and clients, once told me something that made a lasting impression. He would often get suggestions from his workers that other suppliers were cheaper to which he always retorted “But are they better?” To him, quality came first.

Another friend of mine, David, just posted a new blog post: “No accounting for taste” where he states “When an entire business rests on the image of a company it makes positively no sense to look cheap or low tech on the web. “

Enter Le Gillian, arriving from Switzerland as an image consultant. In her own words:

Le Gillian

“For me, the issue of appearance according to type and cause is more than what you see. Appearance and Beauty is an emotion that expresses itself through the skin, the personality and lifestyle. Beauty is the awakening of all the senses, sparkling harmony of heart, body and spirit. I wish for my clients the courage to type, to be positive change. Whether the subject is asked styling privately or in a professional context: who dresses cleverly fits the occasion, can only win. In my consulting work also incorporated my many years of professional experience and philosophy of life from Asia and Europe.”

I had the pleasure to meet Le Gillian in person after being introduced to her by Ole and invited her for a brief portrait session. This is the power of networking. To meet people. To meet interesting people.

Another friend lamented that he was not meeting enough interesting people lately.

Fortunately, life in Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City for the political correct, is getting better. Mr 720, or Ben, is the motivator behind Saigon’s Tweetup events.

Mr 720, aka Ben.

They are gathering a bigger crowd for each session and at the latest event I bumped into another colleague of mine, Harvey.

Harvey.

We caught up on news and I checked with Harvey if he had time for a new project and he did. We went straight to the first production meeting of Hayden’s crew, the Northern Touch, for the 48 Hour Film project that took place for the first time in Vietnam.

At 48 Hour Film Project Vietnam's kick off. (Taken with my iPhone)

Harvey joined the team and later in the week it was kick off. 49 teams signed up and 48 hours of little sleep and lots of memorable moments and new friends.

Northern Touch team on location. (Taken with my iPhone)

Stay curious. I try to live by that. Video is a new field for photographers and also a discipline on its own. Film making is a bigger undertaking and by participating, I got a better understanding of the process. Learned a lot. It was worth it and I will do it again next year. Sign me up Hayden!

Events like these brings people out. Different events, different crowds. I’ve been a regular reader of Swiss-Miss’s blog and was intrigued by the Creative Mornings. I spoke with David and said it would be great if we could get something like that to happen here.

Well, all it takes is to have the idea and spread it amongst friends. David told George and George would like to sponsor the first year of monthly events. David has emailed Swiss Miss herself to see if we can fit underneath her umbrella. Hopefully she will get back to us.

Soon, we will all meet interesting people. Six degrees of separation.

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Photography

Moto Moto!

In Vietnam a moto is a motorbike. In Zambia, they have the Moto Moto Museum. To them, Moto Moto is Fire Fire. Moto is also a nickname for Motorola. You have Moto Boy from Sweden. The Urban Moto magazine, the Moto programming language, another Moto Museum and Mr. Moto, the secret agent.

China are famous for The Great Wall and lately, its Great Firewall, as well as its many bicycles and Vietnam is equally renowned for its motorbike population. Bicycles are endangered in Asia according to this research. Even the cyclo’s are deminishing in numbers and more tourists are seen using their services than locals. Motorbikes in Vietnam have been limited at 150 cc until 2007. Thanks to the WTO agreement, larger capacity bikes are now part of the traffic, for better or worse. One thing is certain, the traffic jams are increasing and traveling in District 1, the Central Business District (CBD), takes longer time. A motorbike can still get around faster than a car though.

In a city where you can see Bentley’s cruising the street, a dedicated Porsche showroom in Phu My Hung, it was only natural to get some big name motorbikes. Enter Ducati. We got the honor of capturing the images needed for their launch.

Ducati Vietnam's brand ambassador Johnny Tri Nguyen.

Ducati Vietnam's brand ambassador Johnny Tri Nguyen

Helmets are finally mandatory and have been so for some time. Gone are the days you could jump on your bike and let the hair flow in the wind and regret not having a helmet when a drunk driver came the opposite way and knocked you down. At least, today when the drunk driver comes, you and your head have a much better chance of survival.

I am strong advocate of helmets. I use a helmet every time I ride a bike. I had in the past an ugly bicycle accident that I survived solely by wearing a helmet. In Vietnam it is not a question of “if you have had an accident” but “how many have you had”. People disrespect the traffic laws and yesterday evening, on the way home, I travelled in the motorbike lane on Saigon bridge. It is a one way lane. Suddenly motorbikes in front of me started to swerve to the side and I saw the headlights of another motorbike coming towards me at high speed. Somebody had taken a short cut and went the wrong way. It happens everyday.

There is an organisation, Asia Injury Prevention Foundation, that manufactures safe helmets. I buy my helmets from them. Another client of mine, Sophie Paris Vietnam, have their own branded helmets for sale, as seen below.

We photographed the bike and the models in studio and superimposed the background in Photoshop. Safest way to work while it is official rain season.

One of our latest assignments, for Castrol motorbike oil, was recently put on display on a billboard.

Castrol billboard in Ho Chi Minh City.

The artwork for Castrol.

From motorbike to motorbike helmets to motorbike oil it is only suitable to end it with motorbike parts. Saigon Scooter Centre is everything you need about vintage scooters and we are photographing their products. Item by item. Part by part. Full circle.

Product photography for Saigon Scooter Centre.

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Photography, Recommended

Scandinavian design from the shores of Vietnam.

Fronterra furniture design photographed by Studio MadsMonsen in Vietnam.

Asia, the heart of manufacturing these days. Ideas can be created anywhere, however, when the ideas are about to be realized and manufactured, then Asia is the place to be. One of my clients, Fronterra, have their designers in Scandinavia, or more precisely, Denmark. The Norwegians and the Danes have a good relationship. Denmark is still a popular holiday destination for Norwegians.

I remember from my childhood days we would get up early in the morning, load the car with suitcases and snacks and hit the road. From Bergen to Oslo and then the ferry to Frederikshavn or the other route to Kristiansand and the ferry to Hirtshals. Either way, we got to see the countryside and pass over the mountain range, have a ferry ride and then entering the almost flat country with the famous red hot dogs. We would visit Fårup Sommerland and of course, being an avid lego builder, Legoland itself, in Billund. Even my firstname is Danish. According to the family history, relatives on my father side emigrated from Denmark to Norway roughly 200 years ago and kept the tradition of naming the firstborn son Mads.

The Norwegian language Bokmål, is based on the Danish language and is commonly used in the south and in particular the larger cities while NyNorsk, the second official language, is used elsewhere in the country. All official communication is printed in both Bokmål and NyNorsk. Total population of around 4,5 million people. Feels like there are more motorbikes on the streets of Saigon than there are Norwegians in this world.

Finally, some more samples of their products that we have photographed for them here in Vietnam.

Fronterra furniture design photographed by Studio MadsMonsen in Vietnam.

Fronterra furniture design photographed by Studio MadsMonsen in Vietnam.

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Photography

Why nine lives are not enough for a copycat…

Dalat train station

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, however as a visitor to Dalat’s old train station, my enticement to buy a souvenir for my son, who happens to love Thomas the tank engine, vanished as hot steam in the air as I walked into the shop.

I could have been in Saigon, Hanoi, Nha Trang or even Bangkok. They had the same inventory. The same. “Same same” as they sometimes say. This time “same same” was “same same”. It was not “same same but different”. It was not being told that the Polo shirt from the street stall was exactly the same Polo shirt that retails for x amounts more. It looks the same, but is not the same.

Railway carriage.

Here I was at a train station and the only souvenir I could find depicting a train was a white t-shirt with a black silhouette train. I could get wooden cyclo’s, the usual t-shirts and lacquer ware and all the other items I would find elsewhere. I was at loss. You’ve got a good location that attracts new tourists on a regular basis. They all come to see the old station and the old train. They also want to take a train ride.

The old train.

Recap. So you have a good location and you have a steady stream of potential customers and you want to sell them souvenirs. So far so good. Then you look at what others offers of souvenirs and you fill your store with exactly the same goods. Something just derailed. Back on track. Filled with exactly the same goods? So when your customer arrive in Bangkok and see something of interest and purchase it, do you really think the same customer wants to purchase the very same goods from you? How far down the food chain is Dalat?

I am amazed that the shop was not filled with trains. People come to see trains. It is a train station. It is in the guidebooks. It got something that is different and you don’t sell train souvenirs? Except for a lousy t-shirt. Low quality. Almost like an afterthought.

Almost needless to say, we did not buy anything except for water bottles and ice-cream and that was from the other kiosk.

It is always easy to copy what you see others are doing and thinking it will be a successful business, but it will never be the same. The souvenir shop will go through their “nine lives” unless they start innovating.

Quoting from Vietnam Talking Points:

“Now, despite being very entrepreneurial in one of the fastest growing economies in Southeast Asia, Vietnamese folks are not very innovative, especially in the fields of sciences and technologies. The 2009 Global Innovation Index ranks Vietnam as #73 out of 110 countries with scores of -1.09 and -0.16 for Innovation Input and Innovation Performance.”

It is clearly room for improvement as copycats are everywhere and copying has been here for a long time, including the art museums and institutions.

VietNamNet posted an article about: Learning or imitating? and the WildWildEastdallies recently posted: Stealing ads? Let’s shoot somebody’!

Photocopied Esquire edition.

Finally, via Mr 720’s tweets, I had to see it before my own eyes to believe it, a copied magazine! Elle and Esquire got photocopied. In colour. Only to run a full ad for Bobby Brewers, the very place that have them available for their patrons to read. I guess it is cheaper to get the local shop to do a colour copy of the magazine than to actual purchase the advertising space. Back covers are not cheap. German Elle rates outside back cover at Euro 37,000.

Photocopied Elle magazine.

At an average price of 50,000 VND or roughly Euro 1,90 per cup of coffee, over 20,000 cups sold are needed to cover a real ad. That’s a lot of coffee. With the imminent launch of Elle Vietnam (October 21st 2010), I believe Bobby Brewers would prefer to sell more coffee and buy the real deal.

Magazine copied completely with ads intact.

Photocopied fashion spread.

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Photography

The “100 Faces” photography project and the Vietnamese contribution

“The project is a book in which sale proceeds will be donated to The Global Hunger Project.
We are collecting an array of portraits from different photographers around the world.

The Goal of this Project: Gain exposure for photographers and the art of photography,
raise money for global affairs addressing children poverty, expose the world to the different
perspectives of Beauty amongst different cultures.

We are asking each contributing photographer to submit 1-10 portraits of women
between ages 18-32 which are considered to be beautiful in their local culture.

The brief in short. Received by email. Sounded interesting. Profits to be donated to charity. We can support that. The following Facebook status update went out: “Participating in a world wide charity project about women’s beauty. Need to submit images of ten Vietnamese women. Anyone interested? “

Who would heed the call? 6 women did and here’s the result:

Martina

Thuy

Quynh

Senda

Thy

An Tran

Then came the follow up email:

“Dear Photographers,

I am very sad to be writing this email today and I have developed relationships with many of you
over the past months. I am writing to you because the 100 Faces photography project has been
indefinitely suspended due to lack of funds. “

Sad news indeed, but that should not stop us from ever trying. We tried and got the results above and we would not have had them if we never got the brief.

Yes, disappointed that the project didn’t proceed further and grateful for the opportunity to create the work above.

It was a fun experience as we had to use natural light and James’ helping hands with the reflector to follow the photography guidelines.

Overall, a good experience.

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Photography, Recommended

“Puppets that dance on water” – Múa rối nước

Showtime. Or so we hope. At the ticket counter they wouldn’t sell us tickets, instead they told us to take a seat and wait in hope. Hope that more than ten souls were willing to spend half an hour to watch an art form that dates all the way back to the 11th century. Welcome to the world of water puppetry in 2010.

We were lucky. More than ten arrived and we were asked to purchase tickets. Around 50.000 VND for an adult and a child ticket. Finally show time.

It is worth seeing. Period. If you have children and live in Vietnam it is worth seeing more than once. First time I went with Tian was on an outing arranged by the kindergarten and he loved it. We sat at the back as he was still a bit skeptical to the puppets. However, the second visit it was front row and the show is still as mesmerizing as the first time.

Water puppet show.

The quick summary: Water sprouting dragons turning on their fire and smoke, farmers protecting their ducks only to fail, children swimming and performing acrobatics and men and women catching fish the hard way.

Water puppet show.

Water puppet show.

Water puppet show.

Splashing water, the screams from children when hit by water droplets and the traditional music pouring over the loudspeaker system interspersed with laughter make the 30 minutes experience seem like only 5.

Afterwards you have the option of touring the museum, enjoy drinks or ice cream at Ozo or venture further into Saigon Zoo next door.

Water puppet show.

Address:

The Historical museum, 2 Nguyen Binh Khiem Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City (Next to Saigon Zoo)

They do morning and afternoon shows. We went in the afternoon. 2pm, 3pm or 4pm.

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Photography

The colorful ones – Saigon brightens up

Colourful Saigon, street style.

Talking about Vietnamese fashion, the Ao Dai comes to mind, however, the real deal is something practical and often quite outstanding, in terms of colour that is. How come? Are bright colours the equivalent to the reflective safety vests?

Colourful Saigon, street style.

Walking the streets of Saigon you will not easily become the next Sartorialist as the most fashionable dressed people simply do not walk the streets, especially not under the sun. Tourists are seen walking, office workers during lunch time can sometimes be spotted and street vendors plying the streets. The rest, they travel around by motorbikes or cars, stopping outside their destinations, spending as little time walking the streets as they have to.

People literally park their motorbikes at shop entrances. Valet parking service is common at more fashionable shopping establishments. Walking is simply done in the morning, 5.30am at the park, if you are into public exercising.

Colourful Saigon, street style.

Colourful Saigon, street style.

Colourful Saigon, street style.

Colourful Saigon, street style.

Public eye and public space. People are not so shy in public, from squeezing zits or picking noses to men unzipping behind electrical poles, marking it doggy style, so when wearing your pajamas, nobody raises their eyebrows as it is old school style.

Pajamas old school style.

“Fashion fades, only style remains the same” Coco Chanel.

It sums up the final image, Mr Style, walking the street.

"Fashion fades, only style remains the same."

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Photography

The masked riders of Saigon’s streets.

One of Saigon's masked riders stopped for texting, actually a rare, but welcomed sight, as the majority multi-tasks while riding.

Motorbikes are plentiful in Saigon. Over 4 millions according to travelers websites, and in 2000 alone, 1.4 million units were produced locally and sold. According to a survey from 2008, 26 million vehicles are registered in Vietnam, 95% of them are motorbikes. Over 9000 new motorbike registrations daily.

An Arizona cowboy. Digital ID: 1610053. New York Public Library

The numbers are just numbers until you meet the herd. Unlike the masked riders of the Old Wild West, riders of the East have less space and more riders and faster means of transportations. The Old West could be lawless and preach the “survival for the fittest” mantra and it has more or less not changed here.

Bikes have to give way for bigger vehicles and bus drivers are regularly referred to as “Devils on wheels” and don’t even start talking about lorry drivers. With horns that blow you off the road if you are lucky or under the wheels when you are not.

Late 2007, the Vietnamese government made the second attempt at introducing mandatory helmets for all motorbike riders. The first attempt failed within the cities as people rather paid the fine than to “destroy their fashionable look” by wearing helmets. The second attempt was better, however, the law had to later be amended to include reference to how the strap should be secured as many simply put the helmet on when they noticed the traffic police. Others were riding with the strap too loose, and it is still common to see riders stop to pick up their helmets as they flew off their heads while riding at higher speed on the highway.

Despite getting people to wear helmets and the efforts to get them to wear them correctly, too many have opted for sub-standard helmets that you can pick up for around US$2 and upwards. 80% of helmets in circulation are reported to fail standards.

Some still refuse to wear them at all as seen below.

Still refusing to wear a helmet while riding a motorbike.

All hooded up. Hoods are always in fashion amongst bike riders, especially female, as hoods help them to cover up from the sun. Hoods with text/lettering on can be of endless amusement due to numerous spelling mistakes and/or subject matter. Ignorance can be bliss sometimes and the topic is worthy of its own blog post.

Hooding up.

Wearing a hood with English text.

Despite the hot climate, gloves are being used to shield the sun rays. Even boys can be seen riding with their wrists turned upwards to “minimize” their exposure and sometimes people ride with umbrellas as shield. Colourful socks worn in flip-flops are also part of the sun protection kit.

Layered head wear, colorful socks and hand gloves, all set to combat sun rays.

The habit of stopping, sometimes on the pavement in order to text or call, is picking up, especially if you have an expensive phone. Yes, the majority of riders are still using their phone while riding, however, others can easily ride up alongside and snatch the phone. Once you have had one or a few phones stolen, you start thinking security and for optimal security, you park on the pavement.

Optimal security stance, texting on pavement.

An unwritten rule it seems, the following rider combinations are commonly used. Single riders, self explanatory. Dual riders, the obvious options: two females or two males. Then, when you start mixing, you will notice, male rider and female passenger, more or less all the time. The most typical exception to spot in District 1, female rider and expat male passenger, either newly arrived or too scared to ride.

Following the unwritten rule, male motorbike rider with female passenger.

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Packed like sardines as accidents do happen

Traffic jam

The image above was captured on the road from Phu My Hung heading towards district 4. A motorbike carrying building bricks had slammed into a SUV and consequently fell on the road, breaking most of the bricks. Police at the scene filling in forms while the traffic jam is building up as the SUV was parked in the bike lane and the motorbike was dragged onto the pavement. One single accident and the cars piled up a few kilometers behind. Welcome to the fragility of Saigon’s road infrastructure.

Road accident

The man with the tie ran red light and tried to get in front of the oncoming traffic but got hit just before he made it. Accidents like these happens every day. Hit and run. Only when the bikes or the riders sustain considerable damage they will involve the traffic police. In this case, the business man got on his bike and drove off with a broken plastic cover and bruised ego. All done in less than two minutes.

Future investment, when parents fail.

As a parent myself, it both saddens me and angers me when I see parents taking children on motorbikes without helmets. In this case, the father is wearing the helmet while his son is not. Even at slow speed, a head impact can be lethal. I know that first hand. Bike riding on a racing bicycle at around 35-40 km an hour, my tires tripped me up on a cobblestoned road and I went head first hitting the road surface. A 1 cm imprint on the helmet from the stones, fractured neck, split lip and broken teeth. Was told by the doctor that stitched me up that the helmet was the only reason I was still alive. A good helmet is priceless.

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Photography

Arriving in Vietnam and facing the traffic

Facing the traffic.

Most people, when asked, would answer that the traffic mayhem that you experience on a daily basis leaves an impression, for better or worse. In the central business district, foreign pedestrians can be observed breaking out in panic and sprinting in hordes across the zebra crossings. Not for the faint hearted indeed.

There are a few simple rules to obey and you will live to cross the street and tell the tale.

First of all, do not panic and run. Make sure the oncoming riders are seeing you before moving forwards and when moving, move slowly and steadily and soon you will be on the other side in one piece.

I have got the height to be easily spotted, but for others, especially children, waving hands or umbrellas help too. I have seen blind beggars cross the street slowly by blowing a whistle every few seconds by themselves.

To sum up:

  • Make sure you are noticed.
  • Progress slowly.
  • Keep eyes on traffic at all times.
  • Move steadily and in a predictable route.

The motorbike riders will see you and avoid you. Sudden movements increases the chances of an accident.

Man crossing the street.

I went to one of Saigon’s bus stations and found a street side cafe, front row view to the mayhem as the buses arrived faster than the planes at Heathrow airport. Ordered a “ca phe sua da”, my favourite coffee, I find second to none when you get the right blend.

Back to the chaos. Patience and timing. Motorbikes are passing by and you will sometimes only get one shot at it before the moment has gone. Below is the result of a morning spent at front row view, bus station.

Woman with child talking on mobile phone.

Family about to cross the street.

Student crossing the road.

Woman just arrived to the city.

Carefully crossing the road, always watch the oncoming traffic.

Dad and son waiting.

Young boy watching.

Stretching after a long trip.

Family crossing.

Modern versus traditional clothes style.

Arriving in the city.

Roadside grooming. The real reason why motorbikes got mirrors.

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Photography

The streets of Saigon. What to see and what to expect. The street vendors.

The cyclo driver.

I spent two days watching people and capturing the some of Saigon flavours as I left my normal gear behind and went back to basic. One camera and one lens. First out of a small series of blog posts: The street vendors. Above, about to be extinct from the roads, unless in an organised group for tourists sightseeing the town, the cyclo driver.

The sunglass seller.

The sunglass seller. Will also carry lighters and other accessories.

The lottery ticket seller.

The lottery ticket seller. Daily draws and multiple providers. It is a big cash cow for the issuing authority as the chances of actually winning are slim, however, there are stories of people striking it rich.

VietNamNet Bridge – A poverty-stricken 97-year-old man won a lottery jackpot of more than US$400,000 during Tet, sparking an outbreak of chaos in his neighborhood as local residents mobbed his home asking a piece of the windfall.

The toy seller.

The magazine and newspaper seller.

The portable food stall seller.

The various nuts seller.

The mobile fruit seller.

The pushcart food seller.

The refreshment seller.

The coffee and tea stall. Liquids on an electricity box with warning display attached.

The parking attendant.

The parking attendant. 5,000 VND to park your car if you are lucky to find a spot. Until now, there is no dedicated parking centre in Ho Chi Minh City and more cars are registered and entering the road every day.

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Chasing lightning as it rolls over Ho Chi Minh City.

Lightning over Saigon.

The rain season is definitely here and this evening was spectacular with the lightning frequency. Almost as strobo flashes going off on the dance floor and the crowd lose itself in the music of (insert your favourite dj here). Playing Chemical Brothers while editing images was almost like being back in London’s clubs with the rolling thunder outside.

Had to shut down all workstations as a safety precaution as the thunderstorm passed overhead. Time to get the camera out and up on a tripod. Headed up for the rooftop, realised the drains had been neglected as we suddenly had a mini pool outside the door. Not even two minutes later, drains open, water gone and I am soaked. Time to chase the lightning.

The image above is the capture of the evening. The others below are variations of the storm. All images taken within half an hour.

Thunderstorm over Saigon.

Thunderstorm over Saigon.

Thunderstorm over Saigon.

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“What were the skies like when you were young?”

Rain clouds over Saigon

They went on forever

And they — when I

We lived in Arizona

And the skies always had little fluffy clouds

And they were long and clear

And there were lots of stars, at night

And when it rained it would all turn

It — they were beautiful

The most beautiful skies as a matter of fact

The sunsets were purple and red

And yellow and on fire

And the clouds would catch the colors everywhere

That’s — it’s neat

Because I used to look at them all the time

When I was little

You don’t see that

Layering different sounds on top of each other

Layering different sounds on top of each other

Little fluffy clouds

Little fluffy clouds and

Little fluffy clouds and

Little fluffy clouds and

You don’t see that

You might still see them in the desert

The most beautiful skies as a matter of fact

Purple and red

Purple and red and yellow and on fire

The Orb

One of my favourite songs and fitting in the sense that rains bring beautiful clouds, maybe not fluffy, but with texture. I had set aside the day for personal exploration, however, I got a last minute booking for the morning. By the time the morning session ended, lunchtime arrived and afterwards I set out for the road. Heavy, dark rain clouds was over the city. Option one, cancel and go back in again, option two, make the most of it. I always prefer to make the most of it, you never know what you can get.

Saigon skyline in the afternoon

I went around the city, took the new road to Phu My bridge and captured the skyline. The close up is a nice silhouette and when you pull back you see the heavy clouds, complete contrast and change of mood. From 200mm to 70mm does that.

Saigon skyline with rain clouds in the afternoon.

Onwards I went and by the time I reached the ferris wheel in Phu My Hung, the clouds had caught up with me and the rain came. Time for a coffee and watch the clouds go by.

Ferris wheel in Phu My Hung.

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Photography

A weekend of spiritual wellness for the photographic soul

What better start on the weekend to pay visits to pagodas and take in their atmosphere. Parking the motorbike in the courtyard and see people walking slowly without any haste is a welcomed relief from the traffic mayhem that goes on outside. First stop is the Jade Emperor Pagoda on 73 Mai Thi Luu street. Beautiful sunshine outside, however, once you move inside, the light falls off fast and even at a high ISO setting you will worry about potential camera shake and a tripod is highly recommended. Despite the technical challenge, it is possible to photograph handheld.

By the courtyard entrance of the Jade Emperor Pagoda

By the courtyard wall of the Jade Emperor Pagoda

Inside the Jade Emperor Pagoda

Inside the Jade Emperor Pagoda

Inside the Jade Emperor Pagoda

Close by, on 34 Vo Thi Sau street, we find the Tran Hung Dao Temple, and the parking attendants indicate the parking area for the motorbike that is right next to one of the offering furnaces. It doesn’t take long before the bike is completely covered in thin layer of white ash. Another challenge is light, or rather the lack of available light coming in to the temple, taking handheld photography to a higher level of steadiness exercise.

Detail from Tran Hung Dao Temple

Detail from Tran Hung Dao Temple

Final stop before lunchtime, Vinh Nghiem Pagoda on 339 Nam Ky Khoi Nghi street. On the premises there is a great vegetarian restaurant, Viet Chay, perfect place to end the half day tour.

Detail from Vinh Nghiem Pagoda

Detail from Vinh Nghiem Pagoda

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