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.

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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. :)

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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.

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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.

shanghai bund with tai guo

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currently listening to:
we hid in the back of the boat in twilight, away from everyone,
smoking shoddy rosebud cigarettes
and shuffling through my ipod.
i had the left earbud, he had the right.

this obscure song came on that no one i knew knew.

my heart jumped when he started singing along with me.

not big, not clever. not big whatsoever.

during lunch, i throw away a chicken bone
and my uncle tells me to save it for the dog.
i tell him chicken bones are bad for dogs;
they splinter into shards and can cut up a dog’s throat.
he’s like, “only for american dogs. the dogs here can eat chicken bones.
i feed him chicken bones all the time.”
now i know why the dog keeps coughing.

totally useless arguing with adults.
it’s like they have this rigid set of beliefs
you can’t dispel no matter how hard you try to reason with them.

it’s also rude to talk back to elders here
so i’m constantly biting my lip and saying to myself,
“it’s not a big deal” so i don’t get so frustrated.

 
nanpu bridge in shanghai.

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currently listening to:
i’m obsessed with teresa teng.

gad damnit.

i walked in on my aunt anh
sitting in a chair with my razor on her foot.
i was like, “what are you doing?”
she goes, “oh, i just borrowed your razor to scrape the dead skin off the bottom of my feet.”

motherfucking ew.

down south.

i fell asleep in the car and woke up on a ferry.

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there was a thunderstorm when we arrived in mien tay.

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our car window was tinted orange.

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currently listening to:
actually taken from alex (science)’s oode ix mix.
i have this fear that when i return to the states,
my friends will have changed or i will have changed
and things won’t be the same anymore.
are you still down with me?

and does anyone still play 2step?

another eight hours in two hours.

so like i told kalli, i’ve developed this shyness of taking pictures of random strangers.
like they’re minding their own business, doing their thing
and then i feel rude coming up to them and snapping away,
like they’re spectacles or something.
so i’ve been shooting a lot of random, non-human pictures recently.

printed two rolls today and mailing out thirty-five of them as postcards
to those of you who requested them.

 
here are a few:

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greedy mosquitos.

no matter where i am,
there are two places in the world where i always feel at home:
ranch99 and billiard halls.

last night,
chi yen took me to a dingy, dirty joint hidden in the side streets,
congested by cigarettes and men.
i wasn’t intimidated because i’ve been living in billiard halls since i was sixteen.
and one by one by one, i beat them.
i got too cocky and got schooled by the fourth guy.

had he been cute,
i think it would have been a great start to a fleeting, summer romance.

 
shortly after the thunderstorm.

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currently listening to:
my aunt and uncle took me to a night club on friday for a history lesson in vietnamese music.
the vocalists sang songs by trinh cong son.

this recording from 1967 is one of my favorites.

ouch.

“you’re pretty by the standards here,
but the way you carry yourself is not very attractive.
you walk like a duck.
and you’re a little fat.”

wow. if i never had any insecurities about my weight, i do now.

the zoo

hello i am super proud of myself.
my cousin tu taught me how to ride a xe hong-da (honda scooter) on sunday
and i drove him around his little town across the river.
still too chickenshit to make left turns,
but hopefully i’ll be brave enough to venture off into the main streets soon.

 
i told huong i wanted to check out the zoo,
and she wrote back,
“i heard the zoo here is really dilapidated and the animals are starved
and it smells like everything died. i’m so down.”
:) she’s so funny.

 
he’s smiling at me, isn’t he?

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is this not the scraggliest little thing you’ve ever seen?

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i’m sorry i didn’t not bring my camera with me this past weekend
because guess what i saw while driving through the city?
candy ravers.
imagine that, candy kids in saigon!
i got hella excited and wanted to yell out, “plur!”

when i asked my aunt about them, she said “oh those are bad kids.
they swallow these pills and dance violently for hours.”
i was like, “violently?”
she goes, “yes, violently. like this..”
and she throws her fists in the air and shakes her arms back and forth like beavis and butthead.

it was awesome. :)

greetings from the future

once you embrace the idea of living in a sauna,
drenched in your own sweat day and night,
sticky even after showers,
life in saigon isn’t too bad.

i’ve been leaving my camera at home
because like, how many times can you take pictures of people in rice picker hats
riding cyclos and pushing fruit carts
and misspelled shop signs like, “shoes and boosts.”

and also because i’ve been trying my hardest to fit in,
but everyone here stares at me constantly, like i’m a leper or something.
my aunt says it’s because it’s not proper for a girl to be sitting at coffee shops by herself.

this guy came up to me and said,
“cô gái nội một mình, hơi thuốc lá y trang đàn ông.”
i replied, “đàn ông nhiều chuyện y trang đàn bà.”

which basically translates to zero probability of a vietnamese guy ever wanting to marry me.

 
but the food here is amazing.

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currently listening to:
my parents video messaged me through ichat and dad was like,
“i know that song!” (that was playing in the background at the coffee shop)

it was so cute to see that little video box of him singing along on my computer screen.

5am post whee.

my flight leaves in a few hours for vietnam,
where i’ll be spending three months writing. prolifically i hope.
will also be in china for a few weeks.

i have a feeling this summer will be a magical time in my life.

 
essentials:
macbook equipped with final draft 7, cheap plastic camera, usb key and ipod.

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the new adventures of chor lau heung, dubbed in vietnamese
and the duke of mount deer, dubbed in cantonese.
so i can practice my asian speak during the eighteen hour flight.

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my cousin quyen said,
“if you’re gonna walk around talking like how they do in those kung fu movies,
people are gonna look at you funny.”

 
i feel kinda nerdy bringing all of these cables,
but i think they’ll be of more use to me than a pack of condoms.

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if you’d like a postcard (or love letter),
shoot me an email: veanne at gmail dot com
with your address and subject line: “show me some nubbins.”