“A spiritual journey is good for the photographic soul” was the title from one of our previous road trips. The working title I had in my mind for this one was “Riding with Buddha”, however, looking through the images from the trip, it was changed to “Deus ex machina” or “God from the machine”. Still on the spiritual path of thoughts as “Riding with Buddha” is more a tale to tell than images to view.
We started the Saturday with a rendevouz at the zoo. Another project I am undertaking at the moment involves capturing the beauty of Vietnamese women for a charity book project. Using existing light (ambient) and no harsh shadows (i.e. direct sunlight) and photograph the women as they are. A separate blog post will follow on that.
However, once the two sessions were done, Jamie and I were ready to hit the road, except Jamie’s road atlas had been sent to Malaysia by mistake. Who needs a map when we can follow the signs we thought and off we went. Our plan was to travel to Ben Tre, in the Mekong Delta area. Plan A never happened as Plan B kicked in when we realized we had taken the wrong turn and saw Tay Ninh on the sign in front of us. Cu Chi tunnels and Cao Dai temple could do for the day.
Quick stop at the petrol station, can never be too careful, we always dread the thought of running out of petrol and verified our directions. “Turn back to the junction and take the highway or go straight and prepare to zig-zag on small roads.” Straight we went in search of photographic adventure and treasure we found. Little did I realize that what we captured here would be the blog post of today as what happened next gave birth to “Riding with Buddha”.
After our treasure hunt we continued and went looking for a restaurant. Lunch time is lunch time. No good to keep going on empty. “Stop, let’s head back, I need a shot of that one!”, Jamie exclaimed. A bicycle vendor with various Buddha statues for sale had taken a stand by the crossroad. Spur of a moment decision, I bought one, thus “Riding with Buddha”.
Found lunch, saddled up again and found the main road and was reassured by the ones we asked that we were indeed on the correct way, great. My turn to initiate a stop, saw an interesting road sign. Riding with Buddha proved a bit cumbersome, and while readjusting the plastic bags, Jamie gasps. The wheel of fortune broke at Buddha’s back!
Worried for a second if it is bad luck or not, we conclude that Buddhism is about forgiveness and set off again only to have a flat tire!
Luckily, being on the main road means that 800 meters down, there’s a repairman. The inner tube has bursted and is beyond repair. Only a new will do. We wait. It’s rather quick, and we settle the payment and are about to head off, when the bike refuses to start! What’s going on? A Buddha curse? While the repairman is taking the bike literally apart to find the problem, we are on the phone, asking our experts if it is indeed bad luck to break a Buddha. “Yes, it is” is the immediate response, “No, we shouldn’t worry” is the conclusion offered. Didn’t make us any wiser, but the mechanic solved the issue, replaced a faulty part and we set off.
At this stage, we realized that our next trip we will need to have a road atlas and that asking for direction is the same as tossing a coin and that road signs on Vietnamese roads are far in between. We had been sent in the wrong direction. There would be no temple and tunnels on us today and rain clouds soon catching up. We’ve been circling around the city’s outskirts.
A disappointment, well yes and no. Yes, we did not get where we intended, however, we got something else, the “God from the machine”, enjoy the view below: