1. Rush Hour - Hanoi, Vietnam

    Rush hour always seems to bring out our more primal side. We are no longer beings living together in a civilized society but are wild competitors, anonymous to each other. Instead of competing for food or water, we compete for the opportunity to get to where we’re going the quickest. Our tempers flare up and adrenaline pumps as the clock ticks away towards 9am or 7pm…

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  2. Hai Van Pass in Color and B&W - Hue Province, Vietnam

    The Hai Van Pass is 21km of pure asphalt heaven. Filled with tricky turns and banked hairpins, the pass is one exhilarating way to literally climb a mountain on two or four wheels. However, this post isn’t about the Pass, this post is about the mystery of black and white. I was post-processing this image in Lightroom and there was just something missing. By accident, I hit the b&w conversion option and something just clicked in my head. This didn’t really make sense to me as I think the colors of this photo are gorgeous with the deep blues of the sea and the greens of the mountain’s trees. There was just something so atmospheric about presenting the image in black and white. To be honest, I’ve been pretty reserved about doing B&W conversions in the past but I’ve been doing it more often lately. While I’m not saying that everything should be in B&W, there’s just some shots that are so perfect when you view them solely in luminance. 

    PS Visit the Hai Van Pass if you’re in the area. You won’t regret it. I apologize for my pointless rant on B&W conversions.

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  3. Unexpected Bliss - Hue, Vietnam

    To be honest, I’m not quite sure where this place is. After scaling the Hai Van Pass on our scooters, the guide asked us out of the blue if we wanted to go to the beach. Feeling spontaneous, we said sure. About half an hour later on the way back to Hue, he turns into this small road which lead into this dingy little “resort”. There seemed to be a big lobby and a bunch of restaurants along with some villas that were being built. We headed down to the beach, finding only another group of three and a bunch of guards/caretakers who promptly collected our fee to use the tents and chairs. While the water wasn’t the cleanest, it felt liberating to be on a beach occupied by only six others. It was a slice of paradise, in a place we would least expect. Moral of the story, agree with your tour guide if he suggests you go to a beach.

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  4. Heading Home - Hue, Vietnam

    Despite the sometimes unbearable heat, there’s something magical about heading home in the middle of summer. I think it has something to do with the sun’s rays. The days last longer in the summer so the “magic hour”, the time of day when the light is the best for photography is stretched out longer. As such, when you’re on your way home, everything looks beautiful because it’s painted by this gorgeous light. Combined with the ecstasy you get from being done with your day, the feeling is just pure bliss.

     

  5. Boys - Hue, Vietnam

    Curiously enough, the so-called death of film was made most apparent to me when we were travelling through the more rural parts of Vietnam. While most photo labs in the big cities had a ready supply of film, the ones in the countryside were completely devoid of it, even though they had empty boxes of it proudly on display. It seems then that film had become nothing more than a decoration. When I tried to buy film at one particular shop, the shopkeeper offered me memory cards and kept on trying to sell them to me when I refused. Eventually I just showed him the screen-less back of my beat up 35mm Nikon Action Touch and he stopped, flashed a smile and let me go on my way.

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  6. In the Rain - Hue, Vietnam

    There’s something so liberating about taking photographs in the rain. When its pouring outside, everyone seems to be seeking shelter, lost in their own world with the only objective being to get under cover. I think it is in this moment that people let their guard down against cameras because they’re so preoccupied. Speaking of cameras, the one that I took this photo and the next few that I will be posting with is not my trusty M8 but a cheap Nikon Action Touch that I found on eBay. It doesn’t have a megapixel count because it uses film but the most important thing about it is that its completely waterproof (to 10 meters!). I’ll write more about it and put up a picture some other time but for now, enjoy the photos!

    Film - Fuji Superia X-Tra 400, PP in Lightroom and Silver Efex

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  7. The Opposite of Adult - Hanoi, Vietnam

    I have to admit that I never worked while growing up. Most of my time was spent at school or studying and the remainder was just free time. Come to think of it, I wasted more of this time than I should have. I could have picked up a new skill, learned a new sport, volunteered with an organization or even done some work. I’m not saying that we should legalize child sweatshops but I think that it would be beneficial for their future if children of a certain age, say in the young teens, got some meaningful work experience. By meaningful, I don’t mean working at fast food chain for minimum wage but something that would teach them useful skills or a job in a field which they might be interested in. I know most companies would be reluctant to hire teenager for all but the most menial tasks but they wouldn’t even have to be paid. There’s already plenty of unpaid internships abound so this wouldn’t be such an outrageous idea. Rather than spending their college years at internships that turn out to be pointless, they could weed out the less desirable career choices first. At worst, the teens would discover what they don’t want to do and at best they could discover a very successful future career.

     

  8. Power Nap - Hanoi, Vietnam

    I’ve noticed that in Singapore and Hong Kong, naps are really only taken by young children. For an adult or even a teenager to take a daily nap seems somewhat silly. After you’ve been in Vietnam for a while, it’s clear that almost everyone in the country takes an afternoon siesta. According to our guide for this part of the trip, the typical Vietnamese work day has an hour after lunch reserved for naps or as she put it, “reading news”. Aside from the Spanish who are infamous for their siestas, this practice seems quite common in mainland China as well. For the few months that I worked there, it was quite normal to see people with heads on their desks in the early afternoons. According to my dad, it used to be part of the daily schedule back in the 90’s and working visitors were even given a room or guest house to rest in for the afternoon, complete with a bed and sheets. With a quick scour of the internet, it seems that there are benefits to attention and concentration with quick naps in the middle of work. Why not sacrifice a little bit of the day for a substantial boost for the rest of the afternoon? Seems like a good idea to me. Now we just need to get our bosses to agree…

     

  9. Village Chickens - Hanoi, Vietnam

    While there’s always talk about free-range this and organic that, people in Southeast Asia have been paying premiums for a particular breed of chicken for many years. Known more formally as the Malay, this breed is usually only found in rural areas and villages, giving rise to its colloquial name, kampong(Malay for village) chicken.  Supposedly boasting better flavour and less fat, the chicken is sold at higher prices and is touted by many restaurants as a more “premium” meat.  Despite all these claims and being part of popular beliefs, I can’t seem to find any formal taste tests on the chicken. I guess I’ll just have to conduct my own tests someday… With a lab coat and glasses, of course.

     

  10. Scooter Valet - Hanoi, Vietnam

    In Vietnam, a scooter is not just for delivering pizzas or getting hipsters around a trendy neighborhood. In Vietnam, the humble scooter serves as a daily commuter, a family sedan, a delivery van or even a pickup truck. With cars being taxed astronomically, Vietnam has stuck with scooters and motorbikes as the country’s most popular mode of transportation. While there are some moves towards mass transit in the bigger cities, the buses I saw in Hanoi tended to be fairly empty almost all of the time. However, despite the astronomical amount of scooters on the streets, there seem to be a lack of traffic jams which are commonplace in the major cities of Vietnam’s neighbors. This got me thinking. If the people of Hanoi, a fairly densely populated city can get around with such ease without resorting to public transport, why can’t we do the same in Hong Kong or Vancouver? Sure, mass transit in Hong Kong is great but a scooter allows you the freedom to go wherever you like, whenever. Isn’t this a good enough reason to push through our innate phobias of riding in the rain?