A Week In Da Nang

It has become kind of a tradition with my family to take a week-long vacation in early summer. Since most of us work in academia, it’s the most convenient time (later in the summer we would be busy preparing for the upcoming semester); plus, the kids won’t have to wait too long for their vacation.

This year our destination is Da Nang, a city in Central Vietnam best known for its beaches. Most travelers skip it altogether or only use it as a transition point between two more popular destinations – the ancient capital of Hue and the old town of Hoi An – but we’re all about avoiding the crowd, so to Da Nang it is.

To shake things up, we also decided to take the train instead of flying. Sure, the trip takes 15 hours instead of 1,5, but it’s fun to sleep on the train (we had an entire compartment to ourselves), and you can catch some epic sunrise and sunset too.

Sunset over Thanh Hoa

Sunrise on the way to Hue

Another great thing of train travel is you get to go through the Hai Van (Sea Cloud) Pass, the most beautiful coastal road of Vietnam (called “a ribbon of perfection” by Top Gear). You can’t get views like these from a plane:

Our first glimpse of Da Nang from the train

In Da Nang, we rented an apartment right by the beach. It’s in a newer part of town, so we had the beach almost to ourselves. To avoid the sun, we only went to the beach very early in the morning (I’m talking about 5 AM early) or late in the afternoon.

The beach in the afternoon…

… and in the morning

If you go early enough in the morning, you can see the fishermen coming back with their catch in distinctive basket boats. You can even buy their fish – it doesn’t get fresher than that!

A fisherman’s motorbike and his gear

A make-shift fish market on the beach

You can also see a lot of wedding photo shoots

My niece and nephew’s beach combing haul

Of course, being so close to the famous old town of Hoi An (it’s only 30 km away), we had to take a day trip there as well. However, it wasn’t easy with two kids in tow, so I didn’t get to see as much of the town as I’d wanted. I’ve been there once before, but that was years ago and I didn’t remember much of it, except that it was very pretty. It’s still pretty now, like a more compact version of the Old Quarter of Hanoi, only with Chinese and Japanese influence on the architecture rather than French. Unfortunately, it was also very hot and insanely crowded. Otherwise, I would’ve gone back there by myself to really explore the place.

Typical Hoi An scenes

One of the many Chinese temples and assembly halls of Hoi An

There are also plenty of day trips and hikes that can be taken from Da Nang, but I was feeling lazy, so I just wandered around the waterfront area of the city, which isn’t far from our apartment. It’s a great place for people watching, and when Da Nang’s many bridges, the most famous of which is Dragon Bridge, are lit up as darkness falls, it is quite an impressive sight.

Dragon Bridge during the day

… and at night

Our answer to Singapore’s Merlion

Da Nang’s skyline

All in all, it was a good trip. I still prefer the “discover and explore” type of travel, but it’s fun to just relax once in a while.

From The Garden

It’s been a while since I share photos from our garden, but after seeing Kezzie’s post of her own garden, I was inspired to do the same. My dad is a pretty avid gardener, and I’ve been keeping sort of a photographic record of our garden for him, so it’s always fun to look back to see how our plants were doing each year.

Our amaryllis collection (the salmon-colored one is from a bulb I brought back from Amsterdam)

Orchid and Heliconia

Banana blossom (which makes a very good salad) and mulberries (which make very good jam)

Last Outtakes Of 2016

2016 will forever go down in history as “The Year That Must Not Be Mentioned”. Seriously, what the fuck is up with this year? So many celebrity deaths (Alan Rickman and Carrie Fisher hit me particularly hard), so many deaths, period, so many disasters, both social, political and natural. I think I can speak for pretty much everyone when I say I cannot be happier this year is over soon. Of course, who knows, maybe 2017 will be even worse, though I can’t imagine how.

Anyway, in an attempt to add some lightness to this black hole of a year, here are some leftover outtakes – I’m basically cleaning out my folder and posting everything I have left before moving on to the new year.

Here are the “Butter Fingers” pose:

outtake by 14 shades of greyouttake by 14 shades of grey

The “What’s Wrong with My Legs/Feet” pose:

outtake by 14 shades of greyouttake by 14 shades of grey

The “Wait, Did I Turn Off the Stove” pose:

outtake by 14 shades of greyouttake by 14 shades of grey

And last but not least, the “Doggy Photobomb” post (although I was more of the photobomber in the second photo. My dog was just hanging out on the yard and I stepped into frame – you can kinda see it in her “I don’t know what’s happening” expression):

outtake by 14 shades of greyouttake by 14 shades of grey

Outtakes With Pets

It’s been a while since I did an outtake post, so I figure it would be fun for another round. When I look through my photos again, I notice there aren’t a lot of outtakes where I make a mistake, because I  take photos myself with a tripod and remote. On the other hand, there are plenty of “photobomb” outtakes, because for some reason, our dog always thinks it’s time for a belly rub whenever I bring out the tripod (OK, the more logical explanation is that when I go outside to take photos is also when she’s seeing me for the first time in the morning so she’s just coming over to say hello, but I like to think she’s developed a Pavlovian response to the sight of the tripod.)

outtake 1outtake 2
OK, just some rubs…

outtake 3aouttake 3b
Where are you going?

outtake 3cNO, STAAHHP!!!

And finally, here’s a sole outtake with the cat because, unlike the dog, she couldn’t give a shit:

outtake with cat

Outtakes: Puppies Photobomb Edition

We had some rain earlier in the week, but now the heat wave is back in full blast, so outfit posts are not happening. Instead I’m going to share some outtakes from old outfits. These are not your usual outtakes though, since they’re all photobombed by one of our dogs and her pup. We usually keep our dogs in the backyard, but since she had puppies back in March, we’ve been letting her roam free. It’s better for her and the pups, but of course, that means a lot more photobombs. Enjoy!

outtake with puppiesouttake with puppies

outtake with puppiesLook at the puppy’s body language here. It’s like she’s asking “Whatcha doing?”

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April… and now

outtake with puppiesA scroll-down surprise. Though my “Are you kidding me?” face may have given it away

Breaking Cat News

I tend not to devote an entire post to something that is not an outfit or book/movie/TV review, but something happened over the weekend that I really had to share.

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you’ll probably remember that we have two cats, a gray tabby (the Mama Cat) and her daughter, a calico (Kitty – we don’t actually name our cats so that’s just how we tell them apart). Mama Cat is a lazy goofball who spends her day sleeping and eating, while Kitty is more skittish and active. We also have a dog. Now, about a month ago, the dog gave birth to four puppies. It was her first litter, and she got a bit overprotective. And on that very same day, Kitty disappeared.

She’s never been much of a “stay at home” cat so we weren’t too worried at first, but as days stretched into weeks and there was no sign of her, we figured she got scared of the dog and ran off, and something might have happened to her. Sadly, stray dogs and cats don’t stand much of a chance to survive around here, so there’s not much we can do.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I heard a cat mewing on our roof and saw a flash that looked like her, but it was dark and I couldn’t be sure. We left out some food in case she came back, but the food was untouched, so I thought I was mistaken, or she just didn’t want to come home.

Then, just this past Friday, I heard mewing on the roof again (it was more like caterwauling), and this time I saw clearly that it was her! We managed to lure her back into the house with food and put her in a cage. She didn’t like the cage though, so I let her out, and she’s been home ever since. Mama Cat hasn’t let her out of her sight (truth be told, I haven’t either), but it looks like she’s happy to stay home now, as if nothing has happened! What amazes me is that she looks perfectly fine for a cat that has ran away for five weeks. God knows where she’s been and how she’s managed to survive. I’m just glad she’s returned safely.

kitty by 14 shades of grey

P/S: I stole the title of the post from Breaking Cat News, an adorable bi-weekly web comic about the adventures of three reporter cats. You guys should really check it out.

Life On Film II

It’s been a while (two and a half years, in fact), since I posted my first attempts at film photography. I haven’t shot much film since – mostly because I was too busy, but also because it was a bit of a hassle to get processed. I finished two rolls about a year ago (it’s surprising how long it takes me to get the full 36 shots per roll), and didn’t get around to processing them until now, after I’ve discovered a lab close to the place where I teach my weekend film making workshop. Thankfully the films are still OK, and the photos turned out way better than I hoped:

Looking at these, I was reminded why I got into film photography in the first place. Now that I’ve found a processing lab, I will try to shoot film more regularly.  I know I sound like a total hipster saying this, but it’s so much more… rewarding than digital somehow.