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.

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.

goodbye saigon!

i don’t have a camera with me,
but my macbook has a webcam that records video.
a tiny bit of my life in saigon:

afternoon thunderstorm in my cousin xiu’s bedroom (trt: 00:21):
(if you look closely, you can see a little gecko crawl across the wall in the background)



 
while on the front porch of my aunt’s house (trt: 00:17):



 
last night was my last night here,
and the saigon entourage sans tommy (who had to shoot until 2am)
took me out to dinner at ngoc xuan’s and club barocco to bid me farewell.
thanks davey for setting everything up. you’re the best.

here are some pics from dinner.

two months later,
one hundred and fourteen page first draft of screenplay done.
tonight i fly back to california.

see some of you very soon! <3
 

currently listening to:
my heart belongs to the breakbeat,
but i’ve been diggin’ house here at the clubs.

film making in vietnam

during lunch on tuesday,
johnny suggested i stop by the set of his new film, “nu hon than chet”
to see how productions run in vietnam.

it’s not much different than in the states,
except the nazi assistant director running around
like a headless chicken squawking, “quiet on set!” was no where to be found.

 
johnny plays the good guy aka little miss sunshine.

0755

 
and tommy plays the devil.

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i am an idiot.

i got into a fight with a hooker at the club.

exhibit a: shiner (still slightly swollen and discolored, but healing nicely)

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i paid the dentist 200,000 dongs (apprx. $12.50) to yank out the remaining half of my tooth.

exhibit b: hole in mouth

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the washing machine here doesn’t wash clothes; it spreads filth.
and so my aunt washed my clothes with the rags she uses to mop the disgustingly dirty floors
and now all of my undies have yellowish-brown splotches on them that resemble caca stains.

exhibit c: oh hell no.

 
i am all kinds of messed up right now,
but check it:

exhibit d: prescription-free fizzy fun. :)

0754

where have you been?

i couldn’t access livejournal in beijing,
but i could still access tubgirl mirrors.
dude, haven’t we learned that censorship doesn’t work?

now back in saigon.
i was teaching my aunt’s english class before leaving for china.
it’s so awesome to come back and see that the students still remembered
it’s pronounced “happy birthday”, not “happy bird-day”
and that it’s “good”, not “goot.”

davey, tommy and their entourage have been taking really good care of me
like finding me cheeseburgers and taking me to clubs that don’t suck.
so when they asked me if i could do a test shoot for six of their models,
i was like sure.

except wtf do i know about shooting fashion models?
not much, but i figured it couldn’t be too different from shooting anything else.
totally different style than i’m used to, but it’s fun to try new things.

 
tommy. switchout.
i’m realizing i like his test shots more than the ones from the actual photoshoot.

0747

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tam.

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phuong.

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how awesome is our lighting set-up? :D

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currently listening to:
been pretty obsessed with this song recently.

phuong took us out to dinner last night.

the taxi dropped us off in front of this dark narrow alley.
at the very very end, was this total dive, swarming with people.

we slurped down fresh oysters, clams, crabs and escargot in a myriad of colorful shells.
omg it was off the hook.

saigon is dirty and you’ll probably get a tummy ache a least once while you’re out here,
but like i said before, no fancy upscale restaurant could ever make me happier
than this little hole in the wall,
with its little blue plastic stools and sticky floors covered in buckets of food residual.

i told phuong she was the best. for real.
because no tourist will ever find such a gem of a place.
it’s a shame we’re are always told to stay away from dark alleys.