Fall Begins – September Ending

The routine continues: meditation and yoga after rising; breakfast; work on art (or blog or whatever); walk to lunch (shopping or whatever); work on art; meditate and yoga; walk to dinner; watch TV or movie on laptop or read a book; sleep; dream. Repeat. And one day a week I go for an extended walk. Or sometimes, when feeling stir-crazy, I’ll go for a walk. I’m making lots of art and am quite happy with it. And my web site is pretty much up-to-date and finished until I get home and can access my archives.

Here then are a few photos from the past three weeks or so:

Life in the hood…

working on electrical wiring, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Wire Work

I don’t know how they can do it – sorting that mess of wires. And while we’re on the subject of work… Here’s a typical small motorcycle repair facility.

working on motorcycle, Saigon, Vietnam
Motorcycle Shop

And a roadside wheel repair:

roadside wheel repair, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Roadside Repair

A selection of transportation:

various forms of transport, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
small truck, Saigon, Vietnam
Motorcycle Truck

While walking past a gas station I noticed an image of the Colonel:

gas station, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
The Colonel Stops for Fuel

I don’t know if they have public toilets in the gas stations but once in a while I see structures like the one below. However, the smell of urine is quite strong near walls. No wonder people walk on the streets. Or maybe it’s just the scooters parked/driving on the sidewalks (at least they don’t drive on the sidewalks here as much as in Hanoi).

public toilets, Saigon, Vietnam
Public Toilets

It’s not all bad smells, noise and dirt though. While walking down the lane to my guesthouse I frequently hear songbirds. People keep them in cages in their homes, on their balconies or bring them out.

bird cages in Saigon lane
Birds Sunning

I walked out of the lane one day to the amplified sounds of  what sounded like Vietnamese blues. Two blind musicians, connected by electrical cords. Somewhere in there was a small amp. The bag on the end of the guitar holds donations.

street musicians, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Street Musicians

I enjoy the funky mix of buildings in the neighbourhood. This funky little building houses an appliance shop.

funky appliance shop, Saigon, Vietnam
Appliance Shop

When walking I sometimes see very narrow lanes disappearing into the darkness of a city block’s interior. Think Victoria’s Fan Tan Alley, but not gentrified. Finally I worked up the courage to stroll on in. It was like going back in time. The lane’s about 4 ft. wide, the store awnings hang down below 6 ft. (so I’m ducking) and the shops lining the lane are minute – maybe 6ft. wide, 5 high and 4 or 5 deep, sometimes opening to another shop behind them. A real maze. Lots of dark wood, bright grains for sale, incense burning, water dripping. The shot below is when I re-entered the wider part of the lane on my way home.

narrow lane, Saigon, Vietnam
Small, Crowded Lane

and deeper in the lane…

small lane, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Deeper into the Lane

In the narrowest part of the lane there was barely enough light to photograph.

I’ve also been popping into pagodas and temples. I specifically sought out the Xa Loi Pagoda (below). It’s the Buddhist temple made famous during the Vietnam War when monks self-immolated to protest the war. Today it’s a peaceful haven in the midst of the city. I visited their small shop where I purchased a set of wind chimes for my daughter Clover and a 3D poster of Quan Am, the female bodhisattva known for her compassion (aka in China as Guan Yin).

Xa Loi Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Xa Loi Pagoda

I’ve also stopped by two Hindu temples. The colourful decor is amazing. Below is one of a series of inset wall sculptures depicting Hindu deities at the Mariamman Temple.

Mariamman Temple, Saigon, Vietnam
Wall Decoration

Another day I stopped by another temple and was directed to the roof by one of the caretakers. There, on the flat expanse of roof, a large sculpture depicted a host of figures.

sculpture on roof of Hindu temple, Saigon, Vietnam
On the Roof

Downstairs was an open, airy space with an enclosed altar at the centre.

Hindu temple, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Around the Altar

I had a few parcels to mail home so walked to the central Post Office, an impressive French colonial building designed by Mr. Eiffel. It took a while to fill out all the forms but when finished I stood back and took a few photos.

Central Post Office, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Post Office Interior
post office telephone booths, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Post Office Phone Booths

The classic wooden phone booths line the walls on both sides of the entrance with large maps above; on one side a map of the surrounding country, on the other a map of Saigon in days gone by. Outside I took a photo showing the post office and its neighbour, Notre Dame Cathedral.

Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Notre Dame and the Post Office

On the walk back I spotted these contrasting messages. The foreground, Communist imagery, is part of an open screen surrounding a park, and in the background a message on a construction hoarding.

contrasting signage, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Contrasting Signage

The contrast is quite pronounced in Ho Chi Minh City, which is sprouting skyscrapers everywhere, where Mercedes, Bentleys and BMWs are commonly seen along side cyclos, bicycles and scooters.

But still, one has to be wary of the ancient wildlife…

tiger in the park, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Tiger Stalking the Unwary


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