Ho Chi Minh City

 A scene from Ho Chi Minh City. One of the last I plan on taking with my iPhone.

A scene from Ho Chi Minh City. One of the last I plan on taking with my iPhone.

All cities have their own energy.

Walking Ho Chi Minh City isn’t for the easily frightened. To navigate the traffic and cross the street, regardless of whether one has the green ‘safe to walk’ signal or not, demands an understanding of yin and yang - when to press forward and when to give way. Don Juan, in Carlos Castaneda’s Journey To Ixtlan, tells of seeing death out of the corner of your eye and using that sense of immediacy to inform your life. Do things now because there may be no tomorrow. When crossing the streets in Ho Chi Minh City, you’re not glancing at death peripherally; you’re staring him in the eye and slapping him in the teeth.

I love it here. All artists respond to their environment. Joel Meyerowitz and Gary Winogrand loved the energy of New York City. I’ve walked Manhattan twice now (and will again early next year), as well as San Francisco and Los Angeles, and I’ve enjoyed none of them as much as HCMC. I need only walk out of my hotel and into the alley and images immediately present themselves. The energy here is fabulous.

Before I began my journey, I thought that my iPhone would be a sufficient camera. It’s not. The plastic cover over the lenses appears to have developed micro-abrasions which are causing problems with flare. And I find the choice of just two lenses in the iPhone 8 Plus to be too limiting. I thought that I was going to need to wait to return to the US before getting another camera, or spends lots of money to have one shipped from there to here, but I lucked out and found a used kit only a 30-minute walk from my hotel. This new camera is fabulous. More on that later…

Not long ago I wrote of setting down my camera, and now I’m writing of having bought a new one. Things change fast on the road.