Thursday, December 28, 2017

Exercising in Hanoi

A man stretches before exercising at Hoan Kiem Lake in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. 

This will be my last post from Hanoi. I walked down to Hoan Kiem Lake early one morning to photograph people working out on the lake shore. This is a traditional activity in much of Asia. I've photographed people in early morning aerobics on Sisowath Quay in Phnom Penh, in Lumpini Park in Bangkok and in markets in Bangkok. Most of the people in the exercise groups are older - it's a good way to keep people active and avoid the lifestyle diseases that set in at middle age. 
Women stretch before their aerobics group starts. 

Most of the exercisers at Hoan Kiem Lake were practicing "low impact" type exercises, lots of stretching and tai chi exercises. But there were also high impact exercises going on. People lifting weights, jogging and running around the lake. 
Spotters? Spotters? We don't need no stinking spotters. Lifting weights in the morning. 

While a few meters away, tai chi classes go on. 

Almost of the people in the exercise groups were Vietnamese. A couple of tourists joined one group, but they couldn't keep up, even with the low impact stuff. Most of the other tourists and Europeans were jogging around the lake. 

At the end of the exercise sessions, people got in line and gave each other back massages. Not something I've seen in exercise groups in Thailand and I don't remember seeing in Cambodia. 

Back massages and rub downs after the exercise class. I don't know how effective the massages were. 

There are more photos of the exercise groups in my archive or available from ZUMA Press.

Finally, most of the photos in my archive are available for editorial use or self fulfillment as prints. If you see something you'd like to use or just hang on the wall, click on the "Add to Cart" button and follow the onscreen prompts.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Holidays in Hanoi

A boy in a Santa Claus suit with his family in a street side cafe in Hanoi.

We went to Hanoi for the holidays. It might seem an odd choice, Christmas under Communism, because Communists are, allegedly, atheist. The truth is though, Vietnam is no longer communist. It is, absolutely, a one party state. But communist? No. Since adapting market reforms in the 1990s, Vietnam, like China, is runaway capitalist. 
A vender sets up Santa hats for sale on a street in Hanoi. 

For years, we've celebrated Christmas in Bangkok, which although majority Buddhist, has huge Christmas celebrations. This year, we decided to go to Hanoi because we haven't been there in a couple of years and because it's much colder than Bangkok and we wanted a little weather break. 
Public school children at their school holiday party. 

If you think there's a "War on Christmas," you need to drag your head out of the FOX News / GOP bubble and tune into the world. It is, without doubt the most widely celebrated holiday in the world. And claims of a "War on Christmas" only serves to divide people. 
Christmas carolers perform in front of St. Joseph's Cathedral in Hanoi. It was one of the first large buildings constructed by French colonial authorities in the mid 1880s. St. Joseph's serves as the center of Hanoi's Christmas celebrations. 

Hanoi's Christmas is a thing to behold. Entire streets in the city's historic Old Quarter turn into a vast Christmas bazaar with shops selling nothing but Christmas kitsch. The Cathedral hosts multiple Christmas events for days before Christmas. Pageants, carolers, and masses in Vietnamese, English and French (we went to the French Christmas mass). Parents put their kids in Santa suits. Teenagers and young people don Santa suits of their own. Cans of fake snow are sold to create a European Christmas atmosphere. 
Women stand in a blizzard of snow in can during one of the Christmas celebrations in front of the Cathedral. 

Dancing Santas during a show in front of the Cathedral. 

Just like the US, it's mostly the commercial aspect of Christmas, but the spiritual aspect of Christmas is widely celebrated in Vietnam. Vietnam has a large Catholic population, the fourth largest in Southeast Asia (a legacy of French colonialism) and the churches are packed for Christmas. The French service we went to was packed to beyond standing room and thousands of people crowded into the plaza in front of the cathedral for midnight mass. 

At the French language Christmas mass in the Cathedral. 
The crowd on the plaza in front of the Cathedral before midnight mass. 

Christmas is a great time to be in Hanoi. It's much colder than most places in Southeast Asia. (Although this is relative. We're talking overnight lows in the 50s and daytime highs in the 60s. Summer weather in Minnesota.) Gray and overcast with frequent rain. And relatively short days. And I mean that in the best ways possible. If you're from Europe or the Americas and used to seasons and early evenings common to those regions, Hanoi feels more "Christmassy" than Bangkok or Singapore.
A family near Hoan Kiem Lake in the Old Quarter of Hanoi. No lack of Christmas spirit here. 

There are more photos of Christmas in Hanoi in my archive or available from ZUMA Press.

Finally, most of the photos in my archive are available for editorial use or self fulfillment as prints. If you see something you'd like to use or just hang on the wall, click on the "Add to Cart" button and follow the onscreen prompts.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Pictures of the Year 2017 Edition

Laborers carry sacks of rice off of a riverboat docked in Yangon. 

It's that time of the year, when we look back on what we've done and start to think about what we're going to do next year. 
A street photo from the Little India neighborhood of Singapore. Laborers on their day off. 

We still live in Bangkok, but this year I didn't work on any projects in Thailand. In fact, there are no photos from Thailand in my POY collection this year. It's more a reflection of my travel in the region and a few from our annual visit to the US. 
A boy catches snowflakes on his tongue during a snowstorm in St. Paul, Minnesota. In May.

Like the last few years, all of my work this year was done with Olympus Micro 4:3 gear. The Olympus lenses have been rock solid and excellent. This year I moved up to OM-D E-M1 Mark II bodies from the OM-D E-M5 Mark II bodies. The OM-D E-M1 Mark II is Olympus' high end professional body and it is a great camera. If you work in the Micro 4:3 universe and are thinking about a new body, I recommend the OM-D E-M1 Mark II without reservation. Everything on it just works, including continuous autofocus.
Celebration of the Hindu holy day of Holi in Bhaktapur. 

Buddhist monks at Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu.

I don't update this blog as often as I used to. I'd like to say that I'm going to get back to regular updates, but it depends on some things that are beyond my control. I should know by early next year if I am going to be able to get back to previous blogging habits. 
Still in Nepal, at a brick factory about 90 minutes outside of Kathmandu. Earthquake recovery is proceeding slowly and the brick factories are in Kathmandu valley are very busy. 

Most of my work ends up in my archive. I urge you to visit and take a look at the photos there. Thank you for sticking with my now very occasional blog and reading these posts. 
On a beach in Bali, a fisherman carries the pole he uses on his outrigger when he goes out to sea. 

From my archive, a gallery of some of the year's work.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Yangon's Wholesale Fish Market

A worker carries a basket of fish out of the cargo hold of a boat at San Pya Wholesale Fish Market in Yangon. 

I went back to the San Pya Wholesale Fish Market during my time in Yangon. It's hard to pick out a favorite thing to photograph in Yangon because it's such a dynamic, visual, place. But certainly the fish market is high up on the list.
A buyer checks his smart phone on a pier in the fish market. 

It's a 24 hour market, but it's busiest early in the morning. From sunrise until about 8AM. After that the light becomes harsh and the heat stifling. I usually go very early, leaving my hotel before sunrise and working the market until 8:30 or so. If I go straight back to the hotel, I can still get some yogurt and coffee for breakfast. 

Workers sort fish in the market.

The market is powered on the backs of its laborers. Fish and ice are hauled by hand. Boats are unloaded by hand. Food is pushed through the market by handcart. There are a lot of trucks in the market but they all take the fish from the wholesale market to other markets or the few grocery stores in Yangon. (The fish comes to the market in boats from up and down the Irrawaddy River. 
Fish for sale. 

The fish market is not the only market in the neighborhood. There's a poultry market next and traditional Myanmar market selling everything from clothes to vegetables to pork and beef next door, there's a lot to see and explore. 
A rivertaxi operator waits for passengers at the pier next to the fish market. 
Bananas for sale in a market next to the fish market. 

If you're in Yangon, you should go to the San Pya Wholesale Fishmarket. It's a great glimpse into real everyday Yangon life. 

Finally, most of the photos in my archive are available for editorial use or self fulfillment as prints. If you see something you'd like to use or just hang on the wall, click on the "Add to Cart" button and follow the onscreen prompts.