Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Year in Pictures

The Tet holiday is upon Vietnam and our staff have taken off already, so any work I accomplish today will not be looked at until, oh, I dunno.. March?

Therefore, I'm about to make it a lazy Sunday and watch the Superbowl live, as opposed to a 6-12 hour tape delay. But the pre-game hype at this noon hour is quite redundant, given the two weeks of build up, so I thought I would clean out the cache of pictures over the past year.

Some of these I've probably posted before, and they are in no particular order:

Living outside of the coasts of the US means you have actual contact with live animals. If you're willing to eat it, then you should be willing to slaughter it. This healthy specimen was more for show in a traditional Korean wedding ceremony though.

In a temple in Korea - prayer notes, perhaps, like lighting votives in a Catholic church? I should pray for a steady hand while composing a shot.

We were eating lunch and the building tower we were in had a heat related incident. As in someone's kitchen was on fire. A bunch of fire trucks showed up. All of the patrons, continued eating, while checking out the commotion. I thought about the structural integrity of the windows and how much damage a 2nd story jump would cause before picking back up my fork.

The most interesting thing about the fire trucks was that they used water pumped from the fire engine itself, and not from street side hydrants. Therefore, they were only able to reach the 6th floor, or thereabouts. These building towers go up to 15 or so floors. Um, good thing I've moved out since.

A typical Northern Tet flower bouquet - or more accurately, half a tree cut down and placed in your living room. Think Christmas tree. In the west, people place aspirin, or Coca-Cola, in the water to help a Christmas tree retain its pines. In Vietnam, folks put in rice rinse water in the base to help these trees flower.

It wouldn't be Vietnam without a picture of lots of stuff carried on a motorbike. I've taken other likewise pictures - massive slaughtered pigs, caged live animals going to the butcher or the pet shop, spit-grilled pigs and dogs, enormous hauls of veggies going to the market, or styrofoam refuse doing to the recyclers.

But this picture above captures a lot of the essence of the current Vietnam. The demonstration of local demand for Red Bull (albeit in its Thai incarnation) shows the economic development and integration of its populace; the late 30s woman doing the work is typical for the country, as you find more women working in all sectors of the economy, except for perhaps the professions of taxi driver/xe om driver/cyclo driver. Some would say local men are lazy, others will realize that an entire generation of males died off due to violence.

Sometimes trees get cut down for progress, sometimes you have to accomodate them. Virtually everything is built by brick and concrete, so oddly clever adjustments to architectural plans abound in the structures of this country.

Frankly, I'm not used to this kind of legroom in a car, much less an airplane. Compared to US carriers, service by Vietnam Airlines' in-air staff, in all classes, is exceptional. It's too bad that with 2008, the airlines upped this ticket to 6 million VND for a HAN-SGN flight. Folks talk about inflation in Vietnam over the last half of 2007 - it hadn't hit me, till now.

This is for a friend who owns Li-Ning shares - they sponsor the Vietnam National Football (soccer) team.

We've been to the Hanoi Opera House quite a bit during our time here, and have managed to sit on every seating level. I would recommend the boxes - cheaper than the floor seats and a better experience to boot. (These are views from the 3rd level)

There isn't a lot of good tv on, but you can get Jezza via a VTC1 feed of the BBC.

Looking out of the Reunification Palace in Saigon. Just think what the view would've been like 35 years ago. And now, I've attended dinners *inside* the Palace. It's almost unreal sometimes.

Ah, golfing. See my ball? (Squint real hard!). Just a few yards away from that longest-drive marker! Ok, it was early in the day, but still! Golf claps, please.

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