tahoe, california

ending 2015 with a trip to the mountains with two of my best friends.
we were the last ones on the slope.

northstar tahoe ski lift
lake tahoe snow mountains
(vi chugging her vodka-filled water bottle before the big drop.)

snowboarding in zero visibility and fresh powder is the closest thing to flying;
i couldn’t think of a better way to say goodbye to the year (and such).

currently listening to:
if you keep your options open there are places you will go.

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i miss my dog.

i’m concluding my six months in asia.
and i somehow managed to schedule five days of video shoots my last week here.
a few frame grabs.

DAY 1
during the french colonial period,
the cyclo/xích lô (bicycle taxi) was the primary mode of transportation in vietnam.
with the advent of scooters and cars, they’re now restricted to only a few tourist areas.
within a decade, they’ll be obsolete.
a story rarely told is that of the cyclo drivers,
who are often seen as a nuisance, scoffed and rudely brushed off by tourists.

back in august when truc-anh and i were shooting b-roll in bùi viện for the soul archive video,
i met, by chance, a cyclo driver named nghia.
there was a sincerity about him; i wanted to hear his story.
so vu and i spent tuesday with him.

bui vien

i’ll share the video later next month,
but really, despite numerous cruel adversities and heartbreaks… such a kind, resilient soul.
 

DAY 2:
jewellery making with charmés.

charmes jewellery
charmes jewellery
 

DAY 3-5:
marou and rice for the singapore national gallery.
a flight to hanoi.

west lake hanoi
 

then an hour drive east to a little village called đông hồ
to produce a video on a 500-year-old printmaking tradition
using pattern carved wood blocks,
seashell, stone and plant fibre based ink.

dong ho village vietnam
dong ho village vietnam

last day in saigon to settle affairs and then onwards to the next chapter.
 

soul archive

a video i produced, shot and edited while in saigon.

more details on the project here:
soul-archive.com

hong kong

hong kong causeway bay

teresa teng warmly reminds me of grandma and grandpa.
from the taxi cabs to the intercom at the mall, her songs murmured,
which made for a tender week on the island.

i had one free day from shooting and mac said we could do whatever i wanted.
eat through the city, duh. six restaurants in one day.
we went from the most extravagant portuguese barnacles (apparently men risked their lives to fetch our lunch)

portuguese barnacles
 

to the most humble spam and egg sandwich.


 

(and dim sum, dumplings, everything yummy hong kong had to offer in between.)
this guy mac, he’s all sorts of good people.

mac ling
 

somewhere in soho
i stumbled upon an antiquarian shop called indosiam that specialised in rare books and paper goods
and picked up these huge 2×3′ maps from the 1920’s


 

and a book on french colonial territories in southeast asia, published in 1930.



 

amid heaven and earth.

window seat airplane
 
currently listening to:
the most appropriate teresa teng song for this post.
香港 香港 和你在一起

wayne wang

director of joy luck club
and JLo’s fatuous romcom, maid in manhattan.

wayne wang

siem reap

how magical would it have been to have wandered deep into the cambodian jungle centuries ago
and stumbled upon these extraordinary ruins enveloped, hidden in foliage.

angkor wat.

angkor wat, cambodia
angkor wat, cambodia
angkor wat, cambodia
 

it was a bit eerie seeing the majority of statues missing their heads,
was told they were hacked off during the siam invasion.

angkor wat statues no heads
 

ta prohm.
if brooks had been there, he would’ve been screaming, “OMG tomb raider!”

ta prohm, cambodia
ta prohm, cambodia
ta prohm, cambodia
but all i kept hearing in my head was this.
 

angkor thom.

angkor thom, bayon temple, cambodia
angkor thom monkeys, cambodia

in saigon, again.

two things.
1. people can be cruel, life can be quite unfair.
you can play victim and whine incessantly about how the world owes you something, spreading negativity
or you can just not.

2. the term “việt kiều” is used to describe vietnamese from overseas.
dad once told me there were generally two types of việt kiều who return to vietnam:
the first, to brag.
the second, to make the country a better place.

i’m not the first of either, but i will try to do both the latter.

veanne cao
[shooting from a dippy little truck with rice creative and truc-anh.

belgium part ii

i promised thomas we’d go to bruges
before he moved back to the states to settle down, find a nice girl and start a family
and before i do whatever it is i’m supposed to do.

bruges, belgium
bruges, belgium
 

but our daydreams of a little fairy tale town felt more like a disneyland cesspool of tourists.

bruges, belgium
[picture by thomas]
 
but we did try to recreate the picture he drew for me.


[picture by jason]
 

blankenberge.

jason bickley, cristina munteanu, thomas loder

 

brussels.
our last day there, jason had to spend some quality time with his family

jason bickley
 

so cristina took us around the city for the day.

brussels, belgium
brussels, belgium
 

brussels from an elevator, via iphone.


 

sometimes #teamhoodies


 

sometimes #teamchucks.


 

seriously, how can you go to belgium and not try a waffle?
it’s like going to new york and not eating a pizza or philly for cheesesteaks.


 

a cute goodbye.


 

you take me by the heart when you take me by the hand

doel, belgium.
an abandoned ghost town taken over by graffiti artists and a playground for photographers.

doel belgium
 

cristina, thomas, jason, little annabelle and i scaled walls, hopped fences and crawled through cracks
– the second most perfect way to spend a damp, dreary saturday.

doel belgium, cristina munteanu
doel belgium
doel belgium
doel belgium, thomas loder
doel belgium
doel belgium, jason bickley
doel belgium
doel belgium, cristina munteanu
doel belgium
doel belgium
doel belgium
doel belgium
doel belgium, jason bickley
doel belgium, cristina munteanu, thomas loder, jason bickley

ce-cil-ia, how i can’t wait to fu-feel ya

lux bought out lighting magazine and revamped it into this slick…
it looks and feels almost like a coffee table art book.

lighting magazine
 

i think it happened one afternoon during production of the first [re]issue
when ray asked me to hand-sketch some installation diagrams for him.
and now once a month,
i get to escape my computer screen for a few hours,
blast born ruffians in my headphones and zone out.

i’ll never not get excited seeing work in print, even if it’s just a bunch of doodles. :)

lighting magazine
lighting magazine
 

also, from this photograph,
i discovered the most amazing, abandoned asylum just an hour south in surrey

lighting magazine

and decided i would trick mark into taking me there this bank holiday weekend
for what could possibly be the most awesome picture taking adventure,
only to be heartbroken when i discovered the building was demolished last year. :(
 

currently listening to:
been singing the same song for months.


 

park saturday

it’s finally starting to feel like spring in london.
had planned on going to st. james to see the daffodils,
but decided on hyde instead so henri could chase his squirrels.

hyde park london
hyde park london
hyde park london
hyde park london
hyde park london

i can’t believe my saturday afternoon was determined by a funny little animal with a stupid haircut.

edges are beaten drift wood, whittled down

sometimes i’m caught off guard when i see a picture of myself
because how i look in my head vs. reality doesn’t always match up.

i wonder what it’ll be like when i’m 80, standing in front of a mirror
and an old lady is staring back at me.

veanne cao

ps. i’m wearing a tube top.

semblance

dad joined the south vietnam army at eighteen
to be with his friends.

several years ago,
mom told me a story of their late evening in the trenches
smoking opium, playing cards
when a bomb explosion obliterated the foxhole.
gory details are superfluous,
but because of where dad was positioned,
he was the only survivor.

so when i meet uncles – chú, bác, ông – once were soldiers,
i inadvertently feel a connection towards them,
as if they were dad’s comrades, dad.

i have a 20-hour flight back to saigon today.

*my apologies. dad wanted me to make a correction on this post.
he was not smoking opium that night with them, “just cigarettes. don’t make me look bad!”

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inchoate

first draft of screenplay done.
in pre-production, jack and i are shooting a movie this summer.

screen test.
casting is my least favourite part of the process, but i love how mark looks on camera, love his nuances.

mark wainwright
 

currently listening to:
snagged from mark’s spotify playlist.

grass stains on my knees for you, holes in my new jeans for you.


 

i took that picture :D

diamond rugs

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happy birthday to me.

my friends are scattered around the world,
but i found a way for twenty of us to do something together for my birthday this year.

the request was simple.
1. blast wreckx-n-effect’s “rumpshaker”
2. hit record on the camera
3. dance
4. send me the footage

view from terrace

made a proper cup of tea, as one does when one arrives home to an apathetic london.

east putney, london

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vietnam

sàigòn.
5am street corners on little red plastic stools with dad and his childhood friend.
i miss these mornings, dearly.


 

aunt chau and uncle phuong’s,
where i spent summer 2007 scriptwriting in afternoon thunderstorms.



 

i was introduced to relatives i’ve never met, including uncle thanh, on the left.


who regaled me with war tales of when grandpa moved the entire family of a hundred into one home
to keep everyone safe and united.
(mom said this number was grossly exaggerated, but i’d like to believe him anyway.)
 

iPhone timelapse on tristyan’s motorbike.
nose, cheek pressed against his back, swerving through districts, perfectly intoxicated.


 

vũng tàu.



 

i had originally planned to add a lot more pictures with weeks of stories,
but ever since i met tristyan, my enthusiasm for blogging has waned
because i’ve been sharing my narratives with him.

but i will say, i see my parents about once a year
and every time i see them, they get a little bit more tranquil, a little bit more eccentric.

with this trip, i was reminded of how hilariously funny they are,
how sweet and affectionate they are to me, to each other.
and there was a sadness, a heartache, a longing to move back to california
when they saw me off at the airport.
 

currently listening to:
the recording is rubbish and the camera guy has the sniffles,
but i was so obsessed with his performance that i had this on repeat my entire trip back to saigon.

mùa thu cho em – tiến nguyễn

translation here.

thailand

good morning bangkok.





 

we left civilisation for an island called pattaya.



 

i hate durian. it smells like old man farts and tastes like old man feet.


 
and then we went to thonburi. lady boys, sheep farms, blah blah blah.

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somewhere across the indian ocean

i woke up to a red sunrise,
and a heavy heart.

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every year, he gets a steak.

happy 6th birthday little dude.

henri malshi
henri malshi
henri malshi
 

my favourite sound in the world – it’s a tie between his snoring
and this little ah yep, i am perfectly content noise he makes with his mouth
whenever i kiss his head and tell him,
“you are the most handsome dog in the whole world.”

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same things i always say, same promises i make

been feeling homesick. not sure what home is though.

went to paris this weekend to see thomas,
since he’s the closest thing to home right now.

thomas loder
(another californian expat living in what seems the same, but is a whole world of difference europe.)
 

i really like this picture he took of me.

veanne cao
paris ferris wheel
 

iphone pictures (because the DSLR is cumbersome):

montmartre paris
veanne cao
paris metro

 

currently listening to:
i hella love thomas.
not in the omg i want to have your babies kind of way,
but in the homie/mad respect kind of way because a few weeks ago
he brought tribe, redman and outkast into our old school hiphop collaborative mix.
 


 

this is how we chill from 93 til ∞

lora and i went to scandinavia to chase aurora borealis,
but our attempts were thwarted by snow.
disappointed, but we made the most of our trip.

9AM. good morning oslo, i’ve written you a haiku.
“winter in norway”
daylight is fleeting
your men are just, beautiful
i can’t feel my toes.

oslo sunrise
 

the norsk folkemuseum.
we were transported back to various eras in time, all within one little town.

norsk folkemuseum
norsk folkemuseum
norsk folkemuseum
norsk folkemuseum
norsk folkemuseum
norsk folkemuseum
 

4pm. and just like that, there goes our five hours of daylight.

norsk folkemuseum
 

scandinavian winters aren’t so bad when the hotel bristol has the best hot chocolate
and you’re in good company. eystein, my favourite viking.



 

we went to the munch museum to see the scream,
but it was this piece (visjon) that resonated with me most.

munch visjon
 

göteborg, sweden.

göteborg, sweden

göteborg, sweden
göteborg, sweden
this last one reminds me of “let the right one in.”
 

eystein and i kickstarted 2015 with a snow walk in frognerparken.
“a great little adventure” he says, but i was left with a dear little memory.


 

although this is our first trip together, lora has proven to be an awesome travel mate.
considerate, chill and hilariously fun, funny.
NYE at the stratos.


 

walking down random alleyways in other countries, part 7.
except that we couldn’t find an alleyway and running in snow makes me happy.

veanne cao

this year i resolve to… be kind, work hard, create.
and perhaps my life will fall into place as it should.
 

currently listening to:
when the dj dropped this club rmx of california dreaming at the NYE party,
lora reminded me that no matter where i am, where i go,
i will always be a california girl.