Thursday, 21. March 2013
Posted on Saturday the 17th of March 2012 at 12:59 PM
I started crying or the women in power
In this research trip I encountered unexpected events that later on I realized these unpredicted things inspired me the most.
At Soc Trang city, a city famous for being populated by Khmer people, also was the hometown of the Vietnamese scholar Vuong Hong Sen. I visited there for no particular reasons, just intrigued by being in a new city.
On the way I saw a theme park that its ridiculous appearance made me feel curious. At the front gate, a large cement statue, colorfully painted that was so kitsch and so bright, depicted Trung sisters, 2 Vietnamese sisters famous for being the first female heroes who fought against Chinese invaders from AD 40-AD 42. The theme park was named Binh An (Peace and Happiness).
It took me a while to realize this theme park belonged to Ms. Dieu Hien, a tycoon in the fish exporting business, her power reached towards real estate and beverages, whose company recently has gone bankrupted and owned their fish raising farmers more than 264 billions VND, equivalent to 12,7 millions US dollars.
I wandered in the park, amazed myself by the peculiar figurines and the abandoned architecture. I realized my sister Phuong and I were the only visitors in the park. We soon discovered a warehouse with hundreds of desks and small chairs, some painted in green and blue, according to the size I guess they were made for elementary school kids, I wondered why they ended up in this filthy warehouse. It supposed to be a cheerful scene, but somehow the air was mysterious and uncanny. I started to walk around and take pictures and footages. However,a middle age, sad looking security guard caught us and asked to delete the pictures that I had just taken, saying that this area of the park was not allowed for picture taking.
I did not know how to react in these situations. I felt extremely sad for the old man who was trying to take information out of my camera, I had an extreme will to protect the footages I took even I had to made myself a fool. I started to feel the pressure I had in those days when I travelled around, not all of them pleasurable, and suddenly tears came out, while I followed him to the office. The security guard was quite calm but seemed surprised by my reaction. He stopped trying to call his manager but decided to solve the problem himself.
I kept crying non-stop while thinking about Alice in Wonderland in the Pool of Tears she created. In this park this association seemed very appropriate. The animals were anthropomorphic, the figurines were so big and scary, the furniture were tiny and scattered
‘I wish I hadn’t cried so much!’
Chicago March 2012
Posted on Sunday the 11th of March 2012 at 12:15 AM
The factory, Thot Not, Can Tho, Vietnam 2012
From downtown Long Xuyen, where I stayed for a few days, to the fish factory I got permission to visit in Thot Not, Can Tho took one hour on motorbike, around 40 minutes.
I was drinking sugarcane in a small coffee store across the entrance to An Thanh factory, at dusk, when the workers started to come home from work. The heat of daytime had surpassed replaced by a chilling air thanks to the river. Boys and girls with young faces, passed by and chatted happily. They rode made in China bicycles and motorbikes. Their working uniforms folded neatly in the baskets in front of their vehicles. I waited patiently for Mr Hoang, the person who was in charge of the factory night shift, to accompany us inside the factory. Access to the factory must have been impossible without some personal connection.
My imagined factory at night came first as a disappointment. I thought it would be empty and pitched dark, which I personally found more intriguing than bustling with people. Mr Hoang explained to me that at this time of the year the factory operated 24 hours, with 2 shifts covered by thousands of workers. When I came in, equipped myself from head to toe with protective wear, included long vest, boots, rubber gloves, facemask and hair cap. I had a slight fatigue, as I always had anytime I went there. The air, a very different, distinct air, could associate more with the atmosphere in a hospital, where people tried to hide the smell of death by a complex treatment of chemicals.
Haft of the factory was empty, only the packaging division is in their rush for finishing the last order of the month before they could have a nice, long break for Tet, or Lunar New Year, the most important holiday in Vietnam.
I tried to adjust to the intense light that turns everything to a shade of bright blue.
Chicago Feb 2012
(beautiful) basa fillet
A little bit of self-promotion. That’s me, taking pictures….
Posted on Monday the 13th of February 2012 at 12:41 PM
Third day in Phung Hiep, Hau Giang, Vietnam
Uncle Phong, who is a farmer, has the unusual habit of burning things in his free time. He does it for fun and it has never harmed anybody. Even though the village he lives in has electricity, there is not enough light to see things clearly. His house faces a small river in front and paddy fields at the back, and is the ideal image of a placid, peaceful Vietnamese farming household.
When I visited him, he was afraid that I would be bored. To entertain me, he took me to the backyard, where there was a well-tended banana garden.
He set it on fire.
I was quite shocked at first sight, it was a beautiful, compelling scene. Banana plants carried a feeling of something intimate and domestic, as this plant is so familiar to Southeast Asians. The scene conveys a subtle hint of catastrophe. The Banana plant is a typical motif in Vietnamese paintings and decorative arts, a symbol for peace and wealth.
Thieu nu trong vuon (Girls in Garden) (detail), lacquer painting by Nguyen Gia Tri
The memory of the burning trees also reminds me of the banana massacre which happened in Columbia in 1928 and was fictionalized in the well known novel One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.
Posted on Sunday the 29th of January 2012 at 1:39 AM
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