District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 2008

Sorry, not really a photo, but I was trying to give the impression of a really busy place with people coming from all directions. And a bit of the contrasting old and new.

I miss walking in Ho Chi Minh City, it has a bustling buzz. People are always doing something and there is always something to see.

Except at Tet, when the busy streets suddenly clear and the road only carries people going to visit relatives.

Greek Columns, Ho Chi Minh City

Greek Columns, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 2009

Some cities are about bicycles, some are about cars and others are about motorcycles. Ho Chi Minh City is in this later group. You see whole families balanced on top of one machine, farmers carrying produce to market and sometimes Greek columns – probably for a Greek restaurant- carried on the back of a motorcycle .

There is was a book published on this theme “Bikes of Burden” (by Hans Kemp), but I think it spawned quite a few imitators.

Motorbike Couple – Christmas 2013, Ho Chi Minh City

In a bike

        Couple – Christmas Eve, Ho Chi Minh City, 2014

One of the things I really like about Ho Chi Minh City, is the amount of life that goes on at the street level. Sometimes there are motorcycle traffic jams, where the riders are shoulder to shoulder at the traffic lights, and when the lights change, they move off en-mass, rather like a swarm of grumpy bees. Strangely, if you are feeling brave, you can still cross the road, if you keep a steady pace and DON’T STEP BACKWARDS! I can’t emphasise that enough. The riders will miss you, but only just. Even crossing the road is an adventure in Ho Chi Minh City.

In photography, there are two schools of thought: those who want to carry everything with them, so they’ve “got it covered”; and those who carry the minimum, just “enough”. On this occasion, I was just carrying a Pearl River tlr (twin lens reflex), loaded with some old Shanghai GP3. Neither is great for photographing at night (slow lens and slow film) – but I still managed to take this picture.

I had been hovering photographing people coming to see the Christmas decorations opposite the Tax Centre (a famous landmark department store in Ho Chi Ming City). It was Christmas Eve and lots of young people where just cruising around – when I saw this couple and asked for a picture. They seemed bemused, but I like it and there is the Tax Centre behind them. 

Rain in Shanghai

Rain in Shanghai
Rain in Shanghai,

It rains quite often in Shanghai. Almost like clearing your throat before you move on to another subject in a conversation. On this occasion I had just acquired a “new to me” Mamiya VI dating from the early 1950s and was wandering the streets looking for pictures to try it out. One of the nice things about using digital is the almost bottomless high ISO you can get compared to with film. This was taken as the light faded to twilight – people were going home, when the heavens opened and it began to rain. Women tried various tricks to try to keep themselves dry: I was just trying to protect the bellows on the camera (bad things happen if they get wet).

I like the colours in the picture and the way you can feel that it late afternoon and will soon be evening.