It's now been over a year since my trip to Vietnam, so my memories are, to put it gently, rather fuzzy—fuzzy as the bottlebrush flower shown below: I actually cropped these a long time ago, then stalled on the identification. Perhaps some day I'll go through that huge bag of paper docs—momentos—I brought back and specify names of the firms, temples and what not correctly—but in the meantime, here are some pictures with warm and fuzzy comments. (Going through the guidebook I was able to identify our hotel—the Dalat Novotel, but only cuz I remember the church next door: we could hear hymns at six in the morning, and, not being particularly musical, I can't recall how they sounded: I seem to recall a blend of Vietnamese and western traditions.)
Since today was a rest day, we took a walk in a park around Xuan Huong Lake in Dalat, which is nicknamed ‘Little Paris’. This time, unlike the evening before, when we got totally lost, we managed to keep our bearings. I have flashes of the night before: trying to orient ourselves via the star, the city's big landmark; climbing up hills; little plastic bags of trash heaped here and there. In Vietnam, poor-status women trundle around big cans to pick up the garbage; there are no garbage trucks. There is a lot of litter in third world countries.
Despite being after dark in what I suspect were rougher parts of town, I never felt unsafe, then or at any other time while in Vietnam—for one thing, people live out in the streets, day and night, when dim fluorescent light illuminates the little shops, alleys and streets—Vietnam has wonderful nightlife.
Instead cast concrete typical of American sidewalks, Vietnamese typically use tiles about a foot square, the patterns (and quality of upkeep) varying from storefront to storefront. Dalat evidently has good water sanitation, though the lake shown above was murky for a reason; but even so the sewers were shallow channels, covered with blocks (occasionally removed) between(?) the sidewalk and road.
Even in Vietnam, I still enjoyed taking pix of flowers. Being in the mountains, the 70 degree temps were for us a comfortable respite from the heat: the Vietnamese living there consider the place freezing cold and wear heavy coats.
Vietnam, like China and Japan, has a fabulous silk embroidery tradition, and, having worked in this medium a bit myself, I was delighted to visit a Vietnamese Embroidery compound, or school. This one particularly emphasized a beautiful setting for its students/employees.
Normally I don't photograph people, but as it was clearly part of this woman's job to demonstrate for the tourists, I took a picture of her. Here she's working on a transparent ground, which has the advantage of making it easy to see the ‘under hand’ —but all the Vietnamese embroideresses worked amazingly fast to my eyes.
I just love this image, which seems like it could've been from any time in the last 500 years. The ‘cloud’ shape dangles on the edge of the roof soften rainfall—so much more aesthetic than gutters, visually, aurally, and practically (no leaves to clog!)
Then we went to a temple. Sorry, I don't know which one. (Actually, there's a good chance this was Dalat Flower Gardens, cuz the gardens and flowers were spectacular...but I don't actually know.)
I just loved all these flowers that we see only in arrangements or growing indoors sprouting out of the ground.
I enjoy taking candid shots of people, and even understand the appeal of posed group shots. Nevertheless my subversive sense of humor found this picture of our tour guides as photographers, ringed with cameras, well worth the sacrifice of my own version of the group shot.
Unless otherwise noted, text, image and objects depicted therein copyright 1996--present sylvus tarn.Sylvus Tarn