Welcome to Hanoi Vietnam. A great city to hang out in for a week while winding down the trip.
I want to talk about my grandpa. I am not sure why, but he has been on my mind for a few days. Charles Gowen is a guy that I deeply respect and admire. He was a Navy man, fighting in the Korean war. His unit was part of the “Train Busters” who destroyed the supply train line on the mainland. He was stationed on the HMCS Crusader which had the highest number of “busts”. In 1977 while working a heavy equipment in Saskatoon, he discovered the oldest Saskatchewan Native site that happened to be 6,000 years old (Now called the Gowen Site). For years he was a pro-level golfer, winning tournaments as far back as I can remember (even having a dedicated trophy room in his house).
When I was young, in the winter, he’d take me out ice fishing. It was more fishing for him as I am pretty sure that I would just spend most of my time playing in the snow. In the summer, he’d take me out golfing at Foam Lake Golf and Country Club. I have fond memories of that place. My sister, cousins and I would spend practically all summer there. It was the first time that I had tonic water. My grandpa told me to get a drink out of the cooler and I thought the tonic water looked good. He asked if I was sure that I wanted that. I was adamant. I recall the initial taste was alike to old rubber bands and I am pretty sure most of it was poured on the fairway off of the golf cart than into my mouth.
Now that I am older and living across the world from him, I don’t get to spend the time with him that I would like. Every time I go home I revel in the fact that I get to spend time with him, listening to his old stories that I have heard many times, that I would gladly listen to thousands more. Tales of traveling to Hong Kong with the Navy, going on shore leave and other adventures that only come from living a full life. I even love listening to what many would call mundane, the birds that have appeared at his feeder, the state of the harvest around Elfros, and who was doing what in a town of less than 100 people.
I can’t wait to get back to Elfros again.
These photos were shot in Hanoi Vietnam. In the trips chronology, they were some of the last pictures that I took. After this, it was a short trip to Hong Kong and then back “home” after a 29 hour train ride up the coast of China.
The details. All shot with a Leica M2 with either a Voigtlander 35 1.4 or a nikkor 50 1.4 on Kodak Tri-X, developed in D76 1:1.
Here is the proof that I am not dead. I have made it back to Beijing after living out of a back pack for the past six months. I survived countless hours on shitty buses, trains, cars, vans, motorcycles, airplanes. I have traveled over some of the worst roads and paths to get where I was going. I endured hours of heavy bags, sweltering temperatures, freezing sleet, bugs, wild animals, touts and beggars.
I also saw some of the most amazing places that this Earth has to offer. I met some of the nicest people that I can imagine. I ate some of the greatest food that has been made. I have been blessed on this trip.
The total was nine countries, thousands of miles (not sure of the total), 158 days (I think), 50 rolls of film and somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 books.
I shot less film that I thought I would. I took about 120 rolls and went through a little under half of it. So far though I have been happy with what I shot. I am only 8 rolls into the pile as far as developing goes and only one roll into the scanning. I am torn on how to proceed. Should I develop everything and then start scanning or should I develop some and then scan some? Tough call.
On the trip the Leica proved to be a solid companion. It never faltered even though it was made in the late 50’s. Next time I do it though, I would probably leave the 85mm lens at home. I think I used it a grand total of one day for one roll. It’s too heavy to lug around.
Packing for this trip was not the easiest. I had to pack for the -30’c in Saskatoon Canada and also the +38’C that I encountered in S.E. Asia. It made for a heavy and full backpack. The camera bag also was a little of a strain. I never bothered getting hand checks for the film at the x-ray scanners and so far, no issues. So to all the people who worry about it and say “go Digital” I say, no need. Use what you want and what feels comfortable to you. For me, that was a Leica and Tri-X film.