#066: Flashback [Vietnam] Part ITak's dispatch released on 26 April 2016

HCMC Vietnam

You step out from the windowless room; its green and blue tiles reflecting the dusty golden light escaping from the dusty wall sconce. The bathroom, a long, narrow chamber where pipes glisten, drip and gurgle. There is something appealing to the raw design; a porcelain sink spitting its contents down through the undersized drain pipe and out onto the floor, an aquatic adventure down the slanted tile floor towards the open hole in the corner.

You grab your well-worn flip flops at the entrance, an entrance whose only true separation with the world outside is the vintage metal gate pulled down in the dark of night. For now, the barrier is merely psychological, an illustrious world painted and heaving in front of you. You step off the tile entryway, turning right into the alleyway and weave around the tired, aged motorbikes.

At the end of the alleyway sits a Mexican restaurant, or at least, a restaurant hawking Mexican-styled cuisine, a novelty and conundrum all in one. You wonder the origins, the thoughts, the plans behind such; perhaps a North American yearning for the cuisine sensed a need for the concept. It does not look like the sharpest knife in the drawer, especially in the culinary wonderland of Vietnam; perhaps useful as an amusing sideshow and nothing more. It seems to be a light to the fearful at the very least, so it serves some use. It might be the best Mexican restaurant in the world, but you won’t be the one to find out, as you continue past.

You split to the right again, now out of the darkened alleyway littered with bubbling pots of fish heads and sauces, and onto an electrically-charged street, a carnival without rides, a circus without a ringmaster. Bicycle-vendors selling, what you can only guess are rodent traps, circulate intermittently as you walk the shoulder. Motorbikes race through the air, the dissipating sound of several entering the distances ahead, quickly replaced by the rising cacophony of more oncoming.

An older man cavorts along nonchalantly, scanning faces along the street. His motorbike, piled high with tropical plants, putters along—green bushes, blooming trees, pole-climbing vines, an amorphous mass of biological life.

A woman makes a sharp turn in front of him with her motorbike. He immediately halts, cuts the engine and engages with her. Her stance, her focus, her motions clearly tell him she is looking for something specific. He grimaces, looks to the sky while listening intently. He turns, sweeps his arm into the portable jungle and digs for a red clay pot buried beneath. She makes a motion, he puts the pot back and pulls out another. She nods ever so slightly, yet still slightly detached. She rotates the key in the ignition and evaporates. Unfazed, the jungle, one pot lighter, continues its move down the chaotic street.

Might the jungle be experiencing a better adventure than most?



The Vietnamese Shrubber
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New York, NY
Internationally-published photographer with a passion for creative food, fine products, unique cultures and underground music. Twitter / Instagram / Email

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