Versus

For this week’s mission I was in a place defined by a conflict that has lasted nearly six decades. North Korea VERSUS South Korea. While S. Korea has modernized and prospered, N. Korea has grown into the strangest place on Earth. On my visit to the DMZ between North and South I found this tribute to peace and symbol of reunification contrasted with the current reality of razor wire.

As always check out my counterpart at Chasing Shadows for a different perspective.

 

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Lunacy

Vietnam is a pretty loony place all throughout the year ( a big reason why I love it here), but is most so around Tet, their massive lunar holiday.

Before I spotted this lady I spent an hour or two watching people try to win the favor of Tao Quan, the Kitchen God. This particular god comes down from heaven once a year and checks to see who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. Those with good marks are rewarded with food, spices, clothes and money. Being Vietnam, it is very natural to think that you can make up for any annual vices through a modest bribe. The best way to buy off this god is to provide him with a ride back to heaven, and it just so happens that this god prefers to travel by fish. So the thought is, if you hurl enough fish into the river, he just might choose yours for the journey.

It gets real loony when people take this a bit too far and start “offering” just about anything you could imagine. I saw several tables, some pots, food, flowers, money, and dirt dumped off of Long Bien Bridge.  But predominately it was gold-fish or red carp who took the big plunge, usually still in a plastic bag. If they were dumped from the bag first, then the bag would be just a second behind. Some would opt for a drive by tossing, and often missed the water completely. So after a few thousand  repentant Hanoians have made their offerings the river is absolutely trashed, and that is why this lady appears to be in a dump. But I’m sure the Kitchen God is extremely proud.

Remember to check out Chasing Shadows interpretation of lunacy.

Free

In this city of perpetual chaos it is a challenge to find some shelter from the madness, but I believe this man is in a sense free from a lot of the modern demands facing most Hanoians, at least while he is on the water.

Be sure to check out Chasing Shadows to see a different view of “Free”.

The End…

The first installment of Dueling Photo, a weekly collaboration with Chasing Shadows, where we will each interpret a set theme in our own way and post a photo that represents this. To start things off we decided on “The End” as a good beginning.

As I had this theme bouncing around my head for the last few days, I was constantly confronted with vivid examples of ends; students happily rushing out of class, an empty bowl of Pho Xao, running out of toilet paper and a dead man on the road who I saw on my way to Hoa Lo Prison to get this shot. Of course there are just as many examples of beginnings in this crazy city, and often they are tough to distinguish from the ends, but that is for another week.   So here is how I saw The End.