The perfect biking tour is, of course, all done on bicycle; however, Viet Nam is a thousand miles or so long. What we did from Da Lat on was to ride north along the coastal Highway 1, our bicycle riding typically supplemented each day on either end with bus transportation. Hot, humid and noisy as it was to ride on the bikes, I think I would've gone batty seeing Vietnam via tour bus only: this way we were closer to the country we were touring, and able to work off some excess energy.
Our final destination was Nha Trang, but we were to ride only as far as Phan Rang—about a 70 mile (110km) ride. Needless to say, I didn't achieve anything like that distance—I was always near the tail end of things, getting swept up.
Dawn in Viet Nam is typically around 5:30–6am, throughout the country, and because it is a (sub)tropical country, more or less throughout the year. I loved the light. Though much of Vietnam is fairly flat, there are some hills around Da Lat. This was shot out our hotel window.
Yellow buildings, such as this one (the red flag with a yellow star in the center is the country's flag) are typically government buildings.
Also yellow are the wheeled garbage cans the women sanitation engineers trundle around. Traditionally the shoulder yoke has two flat baskets on either end; this one has been adapted for modern use. These are still a very common for transporting goods to market, and more often than not, the people carrying them are women. Vietnamese can carry incredible loads with these devices, and the springy yokes require a step in rhythm as one walks along.
Though I've particularly enjoyed some recent work by American crafts artists using ‘broken pottery’ mosaic, this medium has been taken to fabulous heights in Viet Nam. This was supposed to be one of the best temples.
As a special bonus, we were able to see another temple, in progress. Concrete is used as a sculptural medium in Vietnam, as demonstrated by the wonderful shapes it's being molded in here.
This dragon helps to guard the entrance and the golden Buddha within. I thought about cropping the two little girls out of the shot, but Vietnam is very much a country in transition, old and new; and I rather liked that people sat, studied, and even played in and around temple grounds. It seems to me religion should be welcoming, not forbidding.
This closeup gives an idea of how even patterned china can be incorporated into the overall design. Needless to say, this art appealed to me on a number of levels: like bead-stringing, it incorporates a number of small components that are beautiful in and of themselves...
...yet must be made to work together to make a meaningful whole, not merely showcase their individual attractions (however tempting that may be!)—and, of course, broken mosaic uses scraps. And there's colors. And who could resist dragons?
By this shot, our tour guide, Tim, was chivvying me out of there for all he was worth; I was absolutely fascinated by the temple, and felt I could've spent all day photographing it.
But at last, I was finally on the road again. The contrast of such a beautiful building, buried in what was little more than an alley, rubbed upon some quirk of my personality, and so I took this picture.
Perhaps because I loved photographing the temple so much, I seem to recall a particularly happy feeling as I rode through the town. (I think we may have actually been able to ride out of town as well, which would also account for good feelings—it always seem to take till at least 8:30–9 to get loaded onto the bus, and certainly by the time we got off it, the best time of day, both from a light and heat perspective, was already past.) Rather than just photographing tourist attractions, I also wanted to capture some of the more mundane aspects of our trip. Even so I was still fascinated..
I took a lot of pictures on the 18th; so instead of putting all of them on one file, next time, I'll show shots of cham ruins and lotus flowers.
file created 18may05
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