Vietnam 2006 - Avocado

I have a bunch of video from my Vietnam trip in 2006 that I have still not gotten through, but here is the first of what will end up being maybe 12 or so videos.Here's how they eat avocado in Vietnam... or at least one of the ways. Avocado is so cheap in the area that my grandfather lives that we get them for free from other people's trees, most of them actually go rotten. Not quite the same as California, that's for sure.

Lottery Ticket Saleskid

Lottery Ticket Saleskid

??In Vietnam, you buy lottery tickets from walking salespeople. Actually, they are just people who go buy the tickets for resale, making about 10% or so of the value of the ticket (which is about 30 cents, typically). Often times the tickets are sold by homeless or disabled people... the rest are sold by regular folks without any other means of income... and a portion of these are children. There are many tactics they use to sell you the tickets... though most of them center on the fact that if you really annoy the crap out of some people, they will do anything, including buying a lottery ticket they don't want, just to shut you up or get you to leave.

Dan Toc Girl

Dan Toc Girl in Yellow Sweater

??This is the first in a series of shots I'll be posting on Flickr from an hour or so I spent at a little Catholic school in a Dan Toc Village. Technically I wasn't even supposed to be there... I slipped past the guardhouse which keeps foriegners out of the village. The government there doesn't want people bringing money into the developing area (mostly through the church)... they would much rather have you give it to them and have them... um... "disperse" it for you. Yeah. Bastards. Anyhow, there were kids there from about 1 year old through maybe 8 or 9, and it is basically a place where the parents can drop off the kids all day and they are fed and educated... and the only "catch" is that they learn Catholicism as well as the rest of their studies.Dan Toc is what the people the world knows as Vietnamese call the "natives" of the country. There are other names for them, and each tribe has their own name, but basically they are the "mountain people"... and until recently have remained segregated from "civilized" society in Vietnam. I won't go too much into the politics and history here, there is plenty of info on the net...So... I went to this school to photograph the kids... some were shy and some were playful... all were curious. Since foriegners are not allowed into the area, most of them had never even seen one. I realize that I am half Vietnamese... but I don't look it. Not one person in Vietnam saw me as anything but a foriegner, sometimes to my benefit, sometimes not. So I shot a bunch of photos, talked to a couple kids, and took off when it was nap time.

My Grandmother

My Grandmother

??Well, I'm back. I've been back since last week, actually. This is a photo of my grandmother. I think it's my favorite of all the portrait photos I've ever taken of anyone. It's also something I'd never be able to replicate, because my grandmother is notoriously difficult to photograph, because she hates having her picture taken.I was walking by the kitchen (it's separate from the house) and looked in the window, and she was talking to my aunt. The only light on her was coming from the door in which my aunt was standing... it was diffused sunlight (cloudy day)... so I quietly ran and grabbed my camera and shot it right through the bars in the windows just as she turned in my direction.I have lots of photos to post, I've put up a dozen or so on Flickr and will be posting dozens more... some of which I am really happy with. I also have about 9 hours of video to capture and look through... and hopefully post to Videonatomy.

5 Weeks in Vietnam

So I leave for Vietnam in less than 2 weeks. I'll be there for 5. It sorta crept up on me and I didn't even realize that it was so soon until this past Monday. I guess I should start planning what I'm going to take with me... but I won't. I'll save that mess for 2 days before I leave, that way I can maximize my pain... and that is always a priority.

Vietnam... what to do? (oh, and new job)

I'll be leaving for Vietnam in two months and a week. I'll be staying there for 1 month. During that month I hope to do the best photography and video of my life. Either way it will be a great experience, I am sure. I also finally started a regular job again. It's been 8 months since I quit Oakley. They were nice enough to hire me even though I have a month's vacation scheduled for July... and I really like the company... but it really does hurt to make 30% less than my last job. I also no longer have my own office, I have to clock in and out, I am a bottom-tier employee with no subordinates... there is a lot to get used to. The good thing, and the thing that I was looking for... is that it's a regular 8 to 5 job, not life-comsuming in the way that Oakley was. The bad thing is that I'm already liking the company a lot and can see myself committing to a long long time there if all goes well. I guess we'll see.

Anyhow... back to Vietnam. I am really excited about the trip... I was born here in the states, raised here... then sent to Vietnam for 2 years during high school to learn the language and my father's heritage. During that time I did enjoy my stay... it had its down points, like malaria and a few other unpleasant moments... but it was ok in general. Going now, though, on a vacation will be great. I expect to thoroughly enjoy my time. Also, now I'm a photographer and videographer... and my only real problem right now is trying to decide on whether or not to bring the big video camera. It's so heavy... and I will have to carry it everywhere... and it will interfere with my photography. Then again, I want to get some footage while I still can of certain things... certain family members... the condition of the towns and people right now... various things that will change greatly in 5 years' time. I know it will be already quite a bit different than the Vietnam of 12 years ago... but I don't yet know how much.

So... I guess I'll have to see. July = Vietnam.