Informal/Slow Growth Architecture

, originally uploaded by schro440.

Yes! I’m sorry about the repost, but I finally figured out how to get a decent sized image onto my blog via the iPad… Turns out its best to do this thru flickr.

Anyway, this is what I’m talking about when I refer to informal architecture. The base of this building was probably constructed during the French colonial period. Over the ensuing decades, this hybrid tower structure emerged – crowned with the anathema of the socialist revolution, commercial advertising space.

November 13, 2010

Very rarely jet lag can be an amazing tool. For example, had I not been a complete sleepless zombie last night i would have not been able to get up at 5 this morning to run out the door and start making photographs. The morning light in Saigon is radiant and beautiful. As I discovered this morning, if one gets up incredibly early, you can avoid the craziness of the moped traffic and actually see the ways the urban fabric has been constructed. So, it is. 8 am and I’ve already tackled my goal of photographing the Saigon river and surrounding environs. Absolutely beautiful, but i can only share a few quick digital composition shots.

November 12, 2010

Thoughts on Vietnam so far…

Looking back, I have been to two major cities that initially scared the shit out of me. Both Istanbul and Mexico City have earned that distinction in my book. However, hose two cities had a sense of… Order. Ok I know what you’re thinking… Mexico DF orderly? Never. Bare with me on this one. Mexico city has nothing on Saigon. Nothing.

First off, it is hot here. Not, oh it’s hot, but more like “Im jammed into a sumo wrestlers sweaty armpit while he eats habenero peppers” kind of hot. Not kidding. Secondly, every one is everywhere. And they are almost always riding on the back of a scooter, honking, smoking, drinking young coconut water, and talking on a cell phone. Thirdly, there is NO public transport here. Every now and then a bus will cruise along the sidewalk, but the metro this city needs is… decidedly absent. Anyway…

If you look at a city’s architecture as a way to diagnose it’s personality, one could easily say that Saigon has the personality of a newly middle aged woman. She moves fast, has some beautiful features but unless there is some serious reconstructive surgery, things are going to start to sag, and collapse.

Scattered throughout the city are some amazing buildings from the french colonial era. Unfortunately, the signs of western prosperity are growing on the facades like tropical moss.

Day, night Ho Chi Minh City

Well shit. I made it to Vietnam. Now, as an atheist, I believe there is no such thing as heaven or hell. I was wrong. There is definitely a he’ll. And, that hell is a booked united airlines 747 flying for 16 hours from chicago to hong kong. Loud. Old. Cramped and stinky all good words to describe the experience.

But, I made it.

And so far Vietnam is really beautiful. Well, I might be wrong as it is night and I can’t really see anything. The delicate ballet of motor scooters, cars, and bicycles is something truly horrifying. Imagine for just a moment, a city with virtually no street lamps, but crowded to capacity. Now combine that with a general disregard for any sort of painted lines on the road and you have late evening here. Pretty.

Ho Chi Minh City

Why do we travel?

I’ve been after an answer to that question since I went to Eastern Europe in 2005. Could it be that we travel because of a deep-seated yearning of our ancestors? Perhaps there is still a bit of the hunter-gatherer in our genetic make-up that requires us to search. For the people we have descended from, nomadic lifestyles were a way of survival.

Several millennia later, I’m traveling to Vietnam and Cambodia for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on. Initially, I was going to begin working on a new photography project: photographing the re-uses of French colonial architecture. However, as I’m writing this, gearing up, and getting all my paperwork in order… I’m going for a reason much more deeply ingrained: curiosity.

October 31, 2010


Spending Halloween in a proper fashion: eating tons of Reese’s cups and also checking out semi-lost cemeteries around the twin cities. Two of my favorite photos so far.