The internet has probably forever ruined my ability to make a solid, irreversible decision on some matters. I’m stuck right now trying to put together a printed portfolio (which I haven’t done here in Vietnam for the past two years), and just the idea of it is enough to give me a small case of the Howling Fantods. I’ve become reliant on the temporary. There are fewer consequences here in the internet world. Things can change. Options are infinite. And if I decide that I don’t like a series of images, or that I can put together something better, than I can edit any and everything until my heart is content. What I need now is finality. A printed portfolio that I won’t want to change five minutes later.
I’m off to watch the buffalo fights in Do Son this weekend. Hopefully I’ll have some pictures upon my return. Then next week I’ll be speaking to an artist at her studio for a small profile pitch, maybe taking some images at a new restaurant and finally, on Thursday, leaving for New Orleans and New York City.
The group of photographs above is one in a series of examples illustrating my dilemma. It’s a clever enough progression color, theme and story-wise, but it ends there. It lacks depth and perception. Which hopefully isn’t becoming a metaphor for the artist/author.
The above two posts are just some image outtakes from last week in Sapa in northern Vietnam. Green and Black. Two of the prominent colors in the region. Something for the weekend. Homestays, hiking, rice terraces, Hmong women, brick walls, small children, valley views, overcast skies and more. Off to work on some fashion stuff now. Preparing for my trip to the US. Dragging my feet. Feeling the burn.
Until next time. Enjoy the summer sun.
So it seems I’m not the only person fed up or annoyed with many of the aspects of traveling in Sapa, in northern Vietnam. But I would be remiss to not mention all of the actually quite wonderful things about the town and the people. Many of the Hmong I’ve encountered there, even when they are trying to sell me small useless bracelets and trinkets, are some of the friendliest and most kind people in all of the country. And the rare occasion that someone understands/listens when you say you don’t want to buy anything and sits around and just chats with you anyway can be a great experience. In the end it’s a great duality traveling to this quaint but clattering little mountain town.
The two images above are both from this most recent trip. The landscape probably not one I’ll keep, but I like the symmetry with the portrait for the blog post. It rained a lot while I was there. Mist and clouds shrouded most everything. Like they do.
There is really no arguing that the villages and environs surrounding Sapa are all well deserving of their reputation as having some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in all of Vietnam. And that the Hmong, Dzao and Thai ethnic groups that comprise a large portion of the regional makeup are among the friendliest and most striking people in all of the nation. Even from the first ascent, some 40 kilometers swirling up the mountainside, one has the sense that they are somewhere special. You move quite literally into the clouds. I remember vividly my first trip to Sapa five years ago. The excitement hasn’t ebbed since.
Though it should be said that it’s different now. There have always been touts and hawkers and relentless women selling their wares on the streets and in the central square, but these days it’s getting more and more difficult to escape it, to find a single place for a moment’s respite. At every turn, you’re bombarded with someone trying to sell you something. Want to have a nice cup of coffee outside while looking over the grandeur and beauty of the little mountain town? Fine, but you’ll spend half your time telling people you don’t want any trinkets or pantaloons or blankets or bracelets or mouth harps. Fancy a bite to eat at an open air restaurant? There are several, but I hope you like your food with a few dashes of “You buy from me?” every two to five minutes.
It never stops. I understand why it happens. I know the yearly earnings of a rice farmer in this region. But I don’t know. Something about it still irks me. Maybe if I could just have a meal in peace it would be alright. More coherent thoughts on all this later. Plus the questionable authenticity of trekking to villages and spending the night in “local houses” in the countryside.