I’m writing from Hanoi, Vietnam. It seems we have come full circle on this journey. We began here in late October 2015, on one-way tickets from Berlin to Hanoi. Our only plans were to be active participants in Vietnam’s Quest Festival. I was invited to install a new Light Box installation and photograph the event for Quest, while my boyfriend Axel, aka. Axlr8te was asked to play one of his badass Tech/House DJ sets. I was also on assignment to photograph and write an article about Quest for FEST300.com.
We began here in late October 2015, on one-way tickets from Berlin to Hanoi.
While the festival itself was super awesome, for me it was also quite an exhausting experience. Creating a new installation while also being on assignment for two clients, wowsa that was pressure. Photographing a festival is a full time job, one where you are even afraid to go to sleep, because you don’t want to miss anything. The Light Boxes are also a full time job, as they need constant attention in an outdoor setting. But in the end I was so happy with my article on Fest300 and my new Light Box installation, that I can proudly say that all the chaos & work paid off. Huge thank you to my partner, pictured below next to my newest installation, he was an integral part of making this vision come to life!
I can proudly say that all the chaos & work paid off.
After Quest, Axel & I began an adventurous travel through Vietnam, which we absolutely loved. The food in Vietnam is just incredible, some of the best food I’ve ever had and such a fun eating environment, the best is on the streets, BBQ, tons of seafood, from North to South, East to West…just incredibly good food with amazing diversity. (I have more to say about Vietnam, coming up in my next blog posts.)
After our 30 day Vietnam Visa’s ran out we flew to Bangkok, which after a month in Vietnam was a rude awakening. This was actually my 4th time in Asia and Bangkok is always a bit of a rough landing, but this time I just could not enjoy the city. A lot has changed since I was last in Bangkok in 2009. Mainly the traffic has become unbearable and the entire city feels like a huge shopping mall. Which is great if you love shopping and have a lot of money to spend. But being a budget traveler isn’t much fun in BKK.
Thus we quickly moved onto Northern Thailand, spending a few days in Chiang Mai, Pai and then a region closer to the Burmese border in Mae Hong Son Province.
The truth about Thailand for me is that its culture has been lost. What was once an exotic destination has become a Westernized over-hyped tourist attraction, with way too many horrid sex-pats. In my impression the Thai people resent the massive tourism while reveling in the money it brings.
The truth about Thailand for me is that its culture has been lost.
However money doesn’t necessarily equal happiness. Thailand receives upwards of 26 million tourists a year and tourism accounts for about 10% of the GDP, although it feels like substantially more. The only thing left in Thailand that feels authentic is the food.
The only thing left in Thailand that feels authentic is the food.
We purchased the above very cool piece of art in Pai from a young local Thai painter. In it two people are greeting each other with Thailand’s traditional “sawatdee ka” (for females ), while hands are held in a prayer with a little head bow…it’s a beautiful greeting. Sadly by the end of our time in Thailand, the sound of it made my skin crawl. It rarely came from the heart and almost always was tinged with dishonesty. Money seems to drive most interactions, which is why this watercolor is coming home with us…to remember what’s really important in life!
Of course our time spent in Thailand wasn’t all bad by any means and I’m looking forward to continuing the story of our trip through Asia over my next few blog posts. Up next, what we enjoyed in Thailand & a month in Burma…and of course, more about the food in Vietnam ;)