POINT BLANK: TAY NGUYEN HIGHLANDS
Tây Nguyên Highlands / Vietnam
Tây Nguyên is a plateau bordering the lower part of and northeastern Cambodia. Kon Tum Province shares a border with both Laos and Cambodia but Gia Lai Province and Đắk Lắk Province only share borders with Cambodia. Lâm Đồng Province is landlocked, and thus has no international border.
The native inhabitants of the Central Highlands are the Degar (Montagnard) peoples. Ethnic Vietnamese (Kinh) people arrived in the area during their “march to the south” (Nam tiến). The Vietnamese now outnumber the indigenous Degars after state sponsored settlement directed by both the government of the Republic of Vietnam and the current Communist government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The Montagnards have fought against and resisted all Vietnamese settlers, from the anti-Communist South Vietnamese government, the Viet Cong, to the Communist government of unified Vietnam.
POINT BLANK: “THE CRAZY HOUSE”
Da Lat / Vietnam
Hang Nga guesthouse, also known as the “Crazy House,” is a piece of artwork that really surpasses the limit of people’s imagination. Designed by Vietnamese architect and impressionist Dang Viet Nga, this extraordinary building of non-rectilinear shapes has appeared in many international architectural journals and finally made its way to the list of the world’s ten most creative buildings (according to the Chinese People’s Daily).
As the intention of the architect is to make a fairy tale house, the “crazy house” resembles a tree with uneven windows, tunnel-shaped stairways, etc. Both the exterior and the interior of the guesthouse are created and decorated with twisting organic forms and very few right angles. The hollow “tree” extends in many directions, rising above to reach to the sky of the amazing Da Lat. Walking along the cave-shape hallways inside the house is not simply a visit but an exhilarating experience, a departure from the norm; wild mushrooms and spider webs popping up on your way is not unusual. Besides, the guesthouse is really a spectacular construction with ten themed guest rooms such as the tiger room, the eagle room, the ant room and the kangaroo room…, with decorations and handcrafted furniture matching the theme. According to Viet Nga, each room has its own meaning: the tiger room refers to the Chinese; the eagle room describes the American; and the ant room represents the Vietnamese, etc.
POINT BLANK: “SHOW ME THE WAY TO THE NEXT WHISKEY BAR”
“..the way to the bar? …upstream… …just follow the river… you can’t miss it! Enjoy!” was the advice of the nice guy on the first image. …and we did! We followed the Suoi Tien river in Mui Ne (Vietnam) and get rewarded by the beautiful landscape of the Red Canyon and a cold beer in this unique bar. Wow, what an unusual way to reach a bar… …walking through a river as the only way to get there!
POINT BLANK: PLEASE WRITE ME A LETTER, MR. NGO
Mr. Doung Van Ngo sits like every day at the end of his bench at the Central Post Office in Ho-Chi-Min-City / Vietnam.
Right next to Mr. Ngo a sign that says ‘Public Writer’. A dictionary, a pencil and his little writing pad.
The CPO is a notable building. Spacious, bustling, functional and wonderful to look at in its Art Deco style.
..and (which is not to forget) it donates a little cool, even without air-condition, on this hot day in the end of April.
So I go over to Mr. Ngo and we start to talk in a very warm way.
MARKUS: ” I’m Markus from Germany and I would like to bring an article about you on my photo blog. Mr. Ngo, could you be that kind and tell me in brief a little bit about yourself ?”
MR. NGO: “Of course… ….and with pleasure. I’m 88 years old and since I’m 17 I’m working for that post office here in Ho-Chi-Min-City. Every morning I come here with my bicycle… …which I park always on the outside of the building on a shady spot… …and there was no single day where I missed to go to work… …even during the war. I learned french and english language at school. Against some not truthfully rumors, that say I learned english from some american GIs… …I have to say that is not true, I learned english at school… …but there was an american pilot that teached me the right pronunciation of the ‘th’. By my profession as a translator in french and english language , I offer translation services to people who need my help.”
MARKUS: “And what is this service… …I mean, what do you translate for you clients?”
MR. NGO: “Everything that my clients want me to translate… …documents, forms, letters… …but in times of the internet people are able to translate texts more and more by themselves … …but there are still clients who ask for my service.”
MARKUS: ” You said letters… ..but that sounds very private…”
MR. NGO: ” …that is very privat in deed. There were many letters with very sad and tragic content… …but I translated also many love letters.”
MARKUS: ” Was there a letter which touched you in a way that you still remember?”
MR. NGO: ” I learned to forget contents right away. I take the confidentiality and the trust very seriously. I forget letters immediately.”
MARKUS: ” Mr. Ngo, it was very nice to talk to you. Thank you for that and I wish you further many nice days and success in your profession.”
MR. NGO: ” Thank you.”
POINT BLANK: VIETNAM / OUT IN THE STREETS
‘When that whistle blows
Girl, I’m down the street
I’m home, I’m out of my work clothes
When I’m out in the street
I walk the way I want to walk
When I’m out in the street
I talk the way I want to talk
When I’m out in the street…’
POINT BLANK: FAMILY BUSINESS
In 1986, Vietnam launched a political and economic renewal campaign (Đổi Mới) that introduced reforms to facilitate the transition from a centralized economy to a “socialist-oriented market economy”. Đổi Mới combined government planning with free-market incentives and encouraged the establishment of private businesses and foreign investment… …by the late 1990s, the success of the business and agricultural reforms ushered in under Đổi Mới was evident. More than 30,000 private businesses had been created, the economy was growing at an annual rate of more than 7%, and poverty was nearly halved. (source: wikipedia)
POINT BLANK: REFLECT !!!
All this nice moments of 2017. A good year.
Thanks for all!
(photos by Victoria, Andrea, Lena and me)
POINT BLANK: WAITING II
“I’m 48 years old, not a kid anymore by any definition, but here is a universal truth that every adult at some point will realize: We are all always 17 years old, waiting for our lives to begin.”
“So, the combination of looking at lots of different people and how they react to each other and how they relate to each other and waiting for that inspiration is the thing that allows me to keep writing.”
POINT BLANK: Nón lá / RICE HAT
The Nón lá, the vietnamese rice hat. This style of hat is used primarily as protection from the sun and rain. When made of straw or matting, it can be dipped in water and worn as an impromptu evaporative-cooling device. By its diameter of 40 cm it also covers the average size of a shoulder from snakes falling out of trees. Hmm, good to know.
POINT BLANK: VIETNAM SCOOTERISTS
There may be nine million bicycles in Beijing. There may be in average two cars washed every saturday somewhere by one family in the western world. There are scooters in Vietnam. A lot! Not to express your lifestyle. Not just to cruise around. Just to let the vietnamese world spinning around. A world with wonderful people. Does this millions and millions scooters seem like a flood of anonymous vehicles? This is not about the scooters. This about the million individual stories of the people who ride it!