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Photography, Travel, Vietnam
After Saigon, we headed down into the Mekong delta. So its on a bus and off we went – its amazing that small things that make a difference, like  air conditioning on the bus. On first stop  was at a temple to the laughing Buddha and  we arrived just in time for prayers. Our next stop was on to the river and a trip on the Mekong itself. We stopped off to visit a small family business making coconut candy. A real family business, from the grand parents to small childern – all  pitched in to help at various stages The next part of the journey was in a rowing boat ( the poor guy in the blue boat below).  I felt really sorry for this guy with 4 heavy westerners  in his boat (some heavier than others)  and against the tide too. There was a lot of grunting and groaning either from effort or maybe just to enhance the tip! Some of the highlights of this part of the trip – Hungs home-stay, down near Can to – magic place to stay right on the river. We have the most amazing fish (elephant ear ) and spring rolls here – Life on the river and how people make a living , a privilege to watch people daily lives on this most river. – As everywhere across Vietnam- the kids were amazing Anyway – here a pictorial view our few days in the delta
 
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I’be been a bit remiss in getting some images from our second trip to Vietnam.  We arrived this June in Saigon , accompanied by Mark & Rosemary Sedgwick. (have a look at Mark’s website –  http://www.theremarkableimage.com/) Anyway, Saigon!  A city of around 14 million people and most of them on motorbikes and no traffic lights. It makes crossing the road very difficult. So, the highlights,
  • The War remnants museum – formerly called the  something like the US War crimes museum. A must see for any visitor to Vietnam. It certainly pulls no punches and is a pretty in-your-face indictment of war. Agent Orange is still affecting peoples lives and the young man in the orange tee-shirt is such a victim
  • Palace of Reunification – Interesting but, if you’re stuck for time in Saigon, juts keep going.
  • Chinese Market – A mad place  teeming with people, narrow corridors and stuff for sale from floor to ceiling.  Certain people with us could not resist a bargain or two!
So, finally, so images from Saigon photocrati gallery    
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Photography, Travel, Vietnam
I’ve been a bit lax getting these images sorted, but, got a chance to go through them this weekend. To take up from the last post, after an amazing few days in Halong bay, we headed by train to a town called Sapa , in the mountains north of Hanoi. Its pretty close to the Chinese border in an area known as Tonkinese Alps. The town itself is above 1700m above sea level.   This particular adventure started with an overnight train trip from Hanoi to Sapa, about a 9 hour journey in a sleeper cabin. We really had no idea what we had booked, other than it was in Sapa and we were going to be there for a few days. We met up with a group of about 8 and a local guide from one of the ethnic minorities in the area, I believe she was from the H’mong  people.   We headed out of the village and met up with a group of locals who would be “assisting” us on the trek. Little did we know how much we would need then as the day progressed. We left Sapa round 9 or 10 in the morning and starting walking. The first mile of so was very tame, but when we left the road and headed cross country, it was a very different story.  What was incredible was, here was this bunch of westerners in hi-tech hiking boots slipping & sliding down these rough paths when the locals, sometimes in flop flops were strolling along with no difficulty at all and having to help out these clumsy westerners . If you are as unfit as I am, the next 7 or 8 hours were extremely tough and  the least said the better! We stayed that night in a local house in the middle of nowhere, but, boy was I glad to see a shower and a few beers that night! Anyway, here are some of the images from the two days in Sapa.
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Photography, Travel, Vietnam
The next stage of the trip was to meet up with Aisling in Vietnam. We flew from Bangkok to Hanoi  and we had previously organised a visa via the Visa-on-arrival program. All I can say about the process is make bloody sure you have dollars with you when you arrive in Vietnam and we will be forever grateful to a dutch national, Stefan, who had spare dollars with him…. We spent the day wandering round the centre of Hanoi. Its a crazy, vibrant city with more motorbikes than I’ve ever seen before. It took a bit of getting used to crossing the road – its very simple, you just head into the traffic and stay at a constant pace, the bikes will just avoid you. The only thing you’ve got to watch for is cars and van. We booked a trip to Halong Bay for the following two days – anyone who had seen the top gear trip to Vietnam will remember the stunning bay of limestone islands. The original trip we booked was a one night stay on a boat, but for some reason the plans changed and we were eventually offered the alternative of of going to Catba island and staying in a bungalow. If anyone is booking a trip to Halong Bay,  take the “bungalow” option – thats what the locals call beach huts. The trip out the bay was fantastic as was Catba island  and the beach huts. its a much better trip than the hotel or even staying on a boat. We spend most of the day chugging along in a flat wooden boat getting to the tiny island with the beach huts. We landed and dumped our gear and headed for a swim. The Halong bay trip was a real highlight of the holiday. We met some interesting people, including Elizabeth (travelersdish.wordpress.com) who quit her job to spend time travelling the world Enjoy the photos  
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Photography, Thailand, Travel
Trish and I have just come back from a trip to south east Asia and this is the first in a series of posts about the trip – along with a few photo of course We booked a trip to the floating markets about 150km outside of Bangkok. Had no idea what to expect. My big worry was that we would have a big bus load of tourists and be whisked from place too place to a schedule. We were up at 6 the following morning and met t he tour guide rep in reception. We got on a bus with 6 or 7 others and had to listen to 3 south African women complain about another who was a little late… We got to a staging area and got divided up between the different tours being run that day.  This guy approached up and told us he was our private guide for the day – Trish & I, a guide and a driver in a big Toyota with air -con – could not get better than this. So, we headed off in the car, the four of us. One of the most amazing things about Bangkok is the contrasts; one minute there are 8 lane highways, skyscrapers, massive junctions and trains whose tracks are at least 150m above the ground, the next, there are old canals and rickety houses made from wood and galvanise sheets in true shanty town style. In Bangkok, these are mixed together in the most bizarre way. After about an hour in the car, our guide dropped us at a warf on the canals. we were picking up one of those mad canal boats that featured in the Roger Moore Bond film – The Man with a golden gun.  We took a boat for a half an hour along the canals to the floating market. It was like entering a different world, all the houses along the canals with the myriad of life – people washing hair, clothes, kids playing everything. It was obviously a very poor area. We eventually arrived at the floating markets. These are are the biggest in Thailand and are struggling as younger people desert the lifestyle and buyers choose to go to Tesco for fruit & veg – yes, Tesco…. The floating market has lots of people selling fruit & farm produce, as well as lots of stands selling cooked food- bits of fish, chicken and pork – tried a few of these, the fish and pork in particular were very good. Anyway, some images from the first few days in Bangkok….. Click on an image to view a full size image.
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Ireland, Photography, Travel
I spent a weekend in Killarney 2 weeks ago and spend a great weekend photographing deer ( and the occasional duck). We stayed at the lakes hotel in Killarney – I could not reccomend the hotel highly enough – fantastic setting, great food and extremely friendly & help staff. If you are into photography, its the perfect place to stay! Anyway, despite fairly challenging weather, we did get some nice shots
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