Archive for 2017|Yearly archive page

Dark cave, 12:25 pm

In Place description, Poetic prose, South East Asia Photo Album, Writing on 2017/12/30 at 15:05

The water is cold, I wouldn’t go swimming in it if it wasn’t for the promise of adventure up ahead. I look behind me and all I see is a line of lights, eight of them  twinkling like stars in the darkness,  streaks of silver lashing the surface of the jet black water. In front of me I can just make out the walls of the cave but straight ahead nothing, just a darkness so compact my light cannot penetrate it.


Dark cave entrance, 12:10 pm

In Place description, South East Asia Photo Album, Writing on 2017/12/30 at 15:03

We have left the jungles slow moving brown river behind us and are entering the cave. In front of me, a pillar of rock that looks like petrified silt rises up out of the cave floor. On top of it is a stone formation that almost looks like a statue of a naked lady, all green with algae. Above, the vaulted roof of the cave is covered in lime stone formations hanging down like curtains. Behind, the jagged mouth of the cave is silhouetted against blue sky.

Vinh Moc tunnels,  entrance 9, 11:44 am

In Feeling of the moment, Place description, South East Asia Photo Album, Writing on 2017/12/25 at 14:26

I’m only a few meters from the entrance where a little bit of daylight spills in, and already it’s completely dark when I turn off my flashlight, I literally cannot see my hand in front of my face. I am truly in the underground, where human eyes cannot penetrate the darkness no matter how used they get to it. I don’t dare to go further in because there are no lights to guide the way and getting lost down in some old tunnels from the Vietnamese war is not a particularly appealing prospect. Instead I just stand here for a moment and savor the feeling.

Road QL15, 11:40 am

In Place description, South East Asia Photo Album, Writing on 2017/12/25 at 14:20

The paved road just ended and it turned into a bumpy, rutted mud track. This is, by far, the absolute  worst road I’ve ever been on. My wheels keep slipping and sliding in the mud and I move forward at walking speed, constantly on edge from the fear of falling over. I manage a glance at the GPS, 11 more kilometers til the turning point; it will be hell if it’s going to be like this all the way.

Ho Chi Minh highway, 12:25 pm

In Feeling of the moment, Place description, South East Asia Photo Album, Writing on 2017/12/23 at 03:53

Finally I am here, the real Ho Chi Minh highway. The disappointment I felt two hours earlier is gone, now all I feel is the excitement of being on this road, it’s smooth, it’s curvy in just the right way, and when the jungles along the side open up you get beautiful mountain vistas. It’s everything I hoped it would be.

Ho Chi Minh highway, 10:35 am

In Feeling of the moment, Place description, South East Asia Photo Album, Writing on 2017/12/23 at 03:48

The road is straight, relatively smooth and on both sides nothing but jungle. A quick glance at my GPS tells me I am on the Ho Chi Minh highway, that legendary road for bikers in this country and I am… a little bit disappointed. Sure, smooth roads and jungles are nice but I have read such good things about it and it doesn’t live up to the hype. I’ve been on equally smooth roads with much nicer views in other parts of the country,  the road between Dalat and Nha Trang comes to mind. Oh well, I shall keep going, see if it gets better later on.

Fa Yuan street raised walkway, 4:39 pm

In Feeling of the moment, Place description, Writing on 2017/12/19 at 08:59

The walkway is raised above the road, allowing pedestrians to navigate the streets without having to deal with the heavy Hong Kong traffic. It’s a couple of meters wide and covered but with open sides, and follows the street for several hundred meters, branching off here and there to follow the smaller side streets. Normally it’s nothing special, just a convenient way to get around, but today is Sunday, when all of Hong Kong’s maids (most of them Malaysian migrant workers) have their day off. Since they have no place of their own they can’t go home, and since Hong Kong is expensive they can’t go out, at least if they plan to save their money, so they end up here. Along the entire lenght of the walkway, the fences on both sides are lined with women. They have spread out picnic blankets or plastic sheets on the ground and some have even hung things on the fence to block the wind a bit. There they sit, one group of friends after the other, each with their own little camp site cluttered with shoes, snacks, drinks, playing cards, phone power banks and whatever else they need for an afternoon of hanging out with their friends. Walking along here is people watching at it’s finest.

XXX underground club, 00:33 am

In Feeling of the moment, Place description, Writing on 2017/12/18 at 15:49

The room looks like the basement of a school or something, thats been temporarily converted to a disco; an open space with low ceiling, bare white walls and a couple of support pillars. Against the back wall is a DJ booth on a raised platform and behind it, the letters “XXX” painted in white on a black background. On the left wall is an LED matrix display showing the words “Absurd TRAX – dj sniff”, and on the right wall is powerful light. The entire place is awash in red and blue light and the air is imbued with the smell of smoke. In the middle of the room is a small crowd, perhaps twenty or thirty people, all facing the DJ booth, in front of which a temporary DJ booth has been set up and DJ Sniff, in white t-shirt, baseball cap and surgical mask, is there playing his tracks. The music is, as announced, quite absurd, just a collection of random sounds without and clear beat or rhythm. Most of the people just stand there watching but two people near the front are trying enthusiastically to dance to the tunes. Behind the crowd, in a sort of alcove, are a bunch of sofas lining the walls, and an old, low quality Chinese film is projected on the wall. Not that that fits into the club scene in any way, it’s just there for whatever reason. The place feels bizarre, from the makeshift nature of the venue, to the absurd music, to the bad movie in the background, it’s all just weird, but I’m really glad I could be here to see it.

Bach Dang street, 6:24 pm

In Feeling of the moment, Place description, South East Asia Photo Album, Writing on 2017/12/15 at 13:17

Yesterday evening was a festival night and there were lots of people here. Today it’s back to normal, every day life and the streets are almost empty. A little while ago it was raining which kept people indoors. Now the rain has stopped but people aren’t coming out, not even the tourists. In the daytime this place is bustling with people but now it’s so empty. It feels so strange.

Le Loi street, 7:15 pm

In Feeling of the moment, Place description, South East Asia Photo Album, Writing on 2017/12/15 at 12:30

The street is lined with red and yellow lanterns enticing people in to the various shops and restaurants. Green lanterns have been strung across the street like pearl necklaces. The whole place is bathed in a soft multicolored glow, giving it a special atmosphere. Tonight a festival is in town and there are loads of people milling around, locals and tourists alike. There’s that happy feeling in the air that only a festival can bring about. Normally I would enjoy walking around looking at things but I’ve had some trouble with that lifeblood of a modern traveler, my phone, which has dampened my mood. I wish I could enjoy myself like the rest of the people but I just can’t get into it.