Sunday, July 31, 2011

Manufactured Landscapes (2006)

 Edward Burtynsky focuses his lenses upon environments that have been vastly altered by humans.  Consider  him the anti-Ansel Adams as he documents the disconsolate shards of this crowded globe.

His work speaks of modernity: Impetuous and unsustainable urban growth...

Wage slavery...


All photos: Edward Burtynsky (

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

City Break: Vung Tau

To beat the heat and escape this sordid city we embarked on a short trip to Vung Tau last week.  With our first wedding anniversary approaching rapidly, we thought we would treat ourselves to a night in a fanciful resort, eat a few great meals, and catch some fleeting r & r. 

We boarded the moldy, sea-anachronism Green Line Hydrofoil and stuffed into a claustrophobia-inducing compartment to set off down the mighty, emerald-green Saigon River to Cape St. Jacques.

After an inordinately turbulent and cramped hour-and-a-half trip, we arrived to a fresh wind blowing off a lively sea.  Although much maligned by fellow Saigonites, the area is a welcome and convenient respite from the city if done correctly.  We checked into our white-washed, gaudy resort, Lan Rung, and enjoyed a glutinous, seaside lunch including vegetable fried rice, spicy Szechuan eggplant, and prawns lathered with a rich and tangy tamarind sauce.

 While I enjoyed a poolside massage under plaster Romanesque pillars, Gavin unabashedly splashed through the pool.

After a few hours of relaxation, beer, music, an ill-advised bout of body surfing in the notoriously unclean sea, and a lovely afternoon downpour, we thought it was time to get cleaned up and hit the town.

Rather than renting a bike like we did last time, we thought we would hoof it.  What a glorious walk!  We took in the sunset and rejoiced in a few goofy photo opts.

We finally arrived at Back Beach to find it packed with the detritus of humanity.  Like a Vietnamese version of Jersey Shore, hoards of teens and young families tramped through the gathering twilight; frolicking in the sea and sprawling on the dingy sand.  Seafood stands were set up along the board walk and we found a spot under the familiar whale and picked out an octopus, a couple of razor clams, and a plate of scallops to indulge in.

This is not a fun late-night town, so we spent the remainder of the evening playing a few games of billiards listening to bad Top 40.  The bars are geared towards the grizzled oil man attempting to let off some steam after a couple weeks on a desolate platform, so they abound with working girls and tired souls.  We can generally have fun anywhere, but attempting to party in Vung Tau can exasperate even the best of us. 

It sure was hard to say goodbye when the time came to take our "boat" back to Saigon!

Monday, July 25, 2011

One year ago today....

Happy Anniversary!  I love you so much and can't wait for many more years to come.