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Photography

The portrait of Ostrich

I met Ostrich at Big Mountain, Vung Tau. On a Sunday family outing. It’s roughly seven months since I last took a trip and blogged about it. The roadworks between Saigon and Vung Tau are still in progress, however, traveling time is now less than 2 hours by car. The ticket price has now increased as it is an all inclusive fee. The Alpine Coaster was thus enjoyed numerous times until the afternoon rain hit.

This time we walked a different route and discovered another area and thus meet Ostrich. I walked inside the small farming area and stood face to face. We exchanged glances and decided that Ostrich was indeed worthy of a portrait. The session was brief, but not as brief as a corporate portrait where the subject deemed his time too important to only grant two frames of his time. Ostrich was more willing to pose. I got more frames. More frames equals more options, so, lo and behold, here are Ostrich’s portraits.

Ostrich I

Ostrich II

Ostrich III

Ostrich IV

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Photography

Big Mountain, Cloud Lake, Miss Vung Tau and the Alpine Coaster

It is a Sunday, my parents are still in town, however, my mother decided to relax at the hotel while my dad, my son and I took a day trip to Vung Tau. The roads have improved, it took us 2 1/2 hours by car, average speed of 48 km/hr to reach Vung Tau, 120 km away. Still slow compared to the speedboat with an average of 1 hour 15 minutes travel time.

Station No 1 at Buffalo Island.

We drive straight to Station No 1, Buffalo Island. Park the car and board the cable car service. We are going to Big Mountain, 249 meters above the sea to visit Cloud Lake and say hello to Miss Vung Tau before undertaking the highlight of the trip, the Alpine Coaster. Racing downhill on Big Mountains slopes before being pulled back up again is great. Each trip gets done faster than the previous one. 30,000 VND or $2 per ride, but the joy is priceless.

It is cooler up here, more wind and you don’t feel the heat as much as you do at the beach. As all good things come to an end, we ride down for a late lunch, thereby extending the good life by enjoying Italian food, before starting the journey back.

Truly a great day out, enjoy the images:

Rearview. Leaving Station No 1 behind by the sea.

Arriving at Station No 2, Cloud Lake.

Panorama view from Cloud Lake restaurant.

Detail view.

Arriving at Cloud Lake, viewing the footbridge with a waterfall behind.

Behind the veil of water. Walking on a slippery footpath behind the waterfall.

Over view from Cloud Lake, with a 30 meter tall Buddha in the distance.

Closer view of the tall Buddha, no shoes allowed on the ground in front.

One of the statues by the footpath leading up to the Buddha.

Time to meet Miss Vung Tau at her stable.

Wheelbarrows left out to dry in the sun by the stables.

The Alpine Coaster tracks on Big Mountains hillside.

Departure time.

Leaving Station No 2 and Cloud Lake.

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Photography

Tet has passed and a New Year has arrived

Chuc Mung Nam Moi!

It is time to officially wish the New Year welcome and lets hope it will be as interesting or even more as the year that passed. We ended it with a highlight, if not, the highlight of the year. A helicopter ride to three oil rigs in a day, yay! All buckled up and riding along the coast of Vung Tau shooting out the open and secured door. A great experience. It is not an understatement to say that I love my job.

Photographer on assignment and loving it, yay! (Image courtesy of Clarence.)

This is my second time in a helicopter, the first time took place in Norway, on top of one of the glaciers. I was an apprentice at that time and we used the helicopter as a prop for a winter fashion shoot. As we wrapped it up, the helicopter pilot said we still had time left so we went for a spin around. Hovering in front of the blue glacier ice was a highlight. Beautiful sight.

This time the helicopter was bigger and the ride longer. We were lucky with the weather, we had been warned that the forecast was not good, the wind particularly strong and that may prevent us from going.

Here’s one of the shots from the ride, enjoy!

Oil rig of Petro Vietnam at the coast of Vung Tau.

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To travel or not to travel

Travel it is. Sunday in Saigon. The normal routine ditched in favour for a trip to the seaside. To Vung Tau. Only 130 km away. Seems close by, until you hit the roads that are still undergoing renovation. Stretches of rigorous suspension testing and a few hours later we have arrived.

Clouds over Vung Tau

Quick Italian lunch by the seaside, watching the hydrofoils arriving and leaving and seeing the rain and thunderclouds pass by in the distance. Occasional lightings are seen.

Ocean view

At the beach.

Tian having fun.

Snails for snacks.

Then the beach. Tian is overjoyed and runs in and out of the water. A table and deck chairs are made available. Seafood and snails are served.

A different Sunday. Change is good.

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A spiritual journey is good for the photographic soul

After our first road trip in the suburbs of Ho Chi Minh City, Jamie and I decided to do another. This time we remembered the sunblock and headed out for the road, to Vung Tau and back. All in a day, that was the plan. 200 km on the bike. Doesn’t sound to bad, but then the Vietnamese roads are nothing like the German Autobahn.

Plenty of CF cards, extra batteries, cameras ready and off we went in search of something to capture. It is not the destination that is of importance, but the journey itself and it was indeed true. 14 GB of capture and several image stories to choose between were more than we could have wished for. First story up, a rather spiritual take, as we somehow got drawn to monasteries and road shrines as we travelled along.

Road shrine outside Ho Chi Minh City.

After getting off the Hanoi highway, or xa lo Ha Noi, we were taking what is to be the upgraded road to Vung Tau. In its current state it is more or less 50 km with road works and dust. Full open surgery of the landscape. Despite the changed appearance, Jamie’s local knowledge from one of the hash runs lead us to the “hidden” monastery down a side road.

Statue in front of a monastery, on the way to Vung Tau.

Same statue as above, different angle.

Our next spiritual discovery came when we made a stop to refresh ourselves. The place was under renovation and next to a knocked down bar with a broken pool table there was an outdoor church.

Outdoor church in Long Thanh district.

Opposite to the church was another statue that caught our attention. This is Long Thanh district after all, with LothaMilk.

Broken statue being supported by wooden planks.

Hitting the road again, we picked up pace as the clouds started to gather behind us. Our little outrun did wonders as we encountered the golden light hour with clear blue sky and beautiful sunlight. All we needed was something to photograph and there it was, right by the roadside, a graveyard.

Angel statue at the graveyard.

Onwards we pressed, to make as much of the beautiful light as we could, finally reaching the outskirts of Vung Tau. Plan A was to have a quick bite and then capture a bit more, Plan B happened on a side street as we passed yet another pagoda. Food for the photographic soul instead.

Buddha statue in Vung Tau.

Buddha statue in Vung Tau.

Thus ended the spiritual ride of the day.

Jamie, ready for capture.

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