Monday, March 7, 2011

Saigon - not the Little one.

30 January - 5 February, 2011
Saigon, Vietnam.

Rice paddies along the way south from Hanoi, rather early into the 36-hour train ride.

Large, crater-like ponds... I'm not sure of their origin, but the landscape and region correspond to a violent history.

Closer to Saigon on the coastal approach between Hue and Danang, we were greeted by this wide expanse of warm, well-protected bays.

Truly, the end of the line. Behind Chris converges the terminus of what, in whole, is often billed as the Reunification Express. Its over 1,726km of track links North with South, and is the entirety of the Hanoi-Saigon rail line.

So, honestly, I'm not sure if to use Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Who you ask, and how you beseech the answer, is likely to yield varying advice - and even then it may totally depend on where you are when you ask.
Truthfully, I prefer Saigon - and apparently the roots to that name run slightly deeper than those of Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). Regardless, the respect for the man who is the inspiration for the contemporary nomenclature remains great, and I am inclined to conclude it is rightfully deserved.  He and others led the first post-industrial peasants revolution in Southeast Asia - in the context of a in increasingly interdependent and quickly modernizing, global capitalist economy, dominated by the West - and his reputation here and abroad stands rather sustained.

Serious, all over the world; but here, aggressive public stance.

Hardy travel compatriots enjoying a meal break from the heat. Yup, mist spray.

The unsung heroes of Saigon - street sweepers, after 11pm, attack refuse with abandon.

We spent nearly a week here, during the major national and cultural holiday of the year. We were graced with stern, local advice for foreigners that greatly enhanced our stay, and intensely enjoyed the esteemed company of all members of my very good friends' family (the invitation was extended from his grandmothers household!!!). I still feel like the surface was barely scratched, and it retained through my stay a lush, explosive sheen of celebratory cheer!

Ostentatious, colonial architecture, clearly Western. Presumably French...?

Peace. Solidarity. Friendship. Cooperation. Development. & Tanks. War Remnants Museum.

I dream about buildings and city blocks that look sport this motif in the U.S. One day...

Notre Dame cathedral & Mary.

Elaborate mosaic of glass and ceramic plates. Le Van Duyet Temple.

We were fortunate in Saigon at this time for another reason - we arrived during a major national holiday celebration in one of the capitol city's major parks. At Cong Vien Van Hoa park, in the center of the city, we found a massive, green public space converted into a showground for exhibits of Vietnam's plethora of natural and cultural treasures. Flowers, bonsai, gems, birds, fish, butterflies, handicrafts, art, sculptures, and more were on display across acres and acres, showcasing among the best of 2010's pieces.

Butterfly tent at the New Year's fair. Cong Vien Van Hoa Park.

A favorite photo, came out so crisp.. Cong Vien Van Hoa Park.

Hedgerow and flowers dragon, easily +35 ft. long. Cong Vien Van Hoa Park.

Elaborate sculptures using local foodstuff - chilis, peppers, fruits, nuts, & flowers. And this was a basic one... Cong Vien Van Hoa Park.

Year of the Cat, a rotating homage in flowers. Easily 15 feet tall. Cong Vien Van Hoa Park.

Plagued with nauseous nicotine withdrawl and something akin to delayed cabin fever from the train, didn't visit the People's Committee Building and the nearby holiday night fair/markets. Chris K., photog.

Traditional ethnic weaving, employing an ingenious array of rope&pulleys, and such deft motions as to nearly render me hypnotized.

The pace is far from breakneck. Food must be approached with caution. And learning the local driving etiquette is more like taking instructions to etch-a-sketch a Hieronomys Bosch painting with your hands behind your back - to quote Jim Bruer's Brian, in Half Baked (1998), it's "fuckin' impossible, man". Which is all exactly what contributes to its all-pervasive sensation of being at all times both a beautifully gritty and harshly serene, while remaining a consistently dynamic city of world-class cultural richness and depth.

Moments into the Year of the Cat, sharing in cheer.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Yangshuo - South Central China

Yangshuo, Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Province, China

25 - 27 January 2011.

While our overland excursion began first in Beijing, China - and to there we returned in our final week on the continent- the real deal of this journey began after our brief stay in the capital city. Admittedly, we were still on something of a main travelers trail in this region, but we passed through at a time when in these rural spots we were among few other trekkers. To be in China during this period, when the prevailing aim of the peoples' focus goes almost totally 'local', was wildly refreshing and more than a treat to say the very least.

Inspiration on the first leg of our trip through Asia - take it from Mao, he knows whats up. Is it still propaganda if you agree....? Yangshuo, China.

Everywhere is the town dressed for lunar New Year. Yangshuo, China.

Li River quay. Yangshuo, China.

A landscape and its painter. Yangshuo, China.

Local transport hub - people, animals, cargo, etc. Yanghuo, China

Seems like all arable land in China is used to the fullest. Yangshuo, China.

Chris, on a long stretch of lonely (a rarity!) country road. Yangshuo, China.

Chris with a local 'masseuse'.  Services not employed  Yangshuo, China.

Cooking class - veggie dumplings, beer fish, and stir fry noodles w/veggies - and we kept the recipe. Yangshuo, China.

Fog-shrouded temple nestled within the karst landscape.  Yangshuo, China.

The lighting, the subjects - au natural.  One of my personal favorite photos. Yangshuo, China.

Upon our arrival we discovered another busy City mid-afternoon before the holiday. Yangshuo, China.

The photos laid out heretofore are taken with an Olympus Stylus 1050 SW
 Creative Commons License
These works by Tim Paez are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License