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Great phi75 2006-04-29 5:40

excellent shot, and super colors!
regards
philippe

  #1  
Old 04-29-2006, 09:06 PM
ngythanh ngythanh is offline
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Default To phi75: In silence

Dear Phil:
In silence, I am "monitoring" the building up of your beautiful album where I discovered a soul behind the eye that looks through your camera viewfinder. I must say that there is a real photographer hidden inside yourself whom you are decoding day by day. Out of the tiny concern on the brightness of your photos, I felt like the landscapes sucked you into their beauty and you were ready to give up to the emotion... I am looking for your continuous success...
Besides, I am wondering if I could be in touch with you to learn more about your wife's side: those who returned to live in Vietnam. I remember you wrote somewhere that your mother is in the country, too, isn't she? There are millions of Vietnamese live abroad, but there are quite only a few came back. More rare, a foreigner to chose Vietnam the favorite place for retirement. I wish I will meet her, and share her feelings and experience.

Thanks for your stopping by my humble picture. Please relay my best regards à ton maman. For you, I wish all the best.

Sincerely,

Thanh
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Old 04-29-2006, 10:33 PM
phi75 phi75 is offline
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Default Re: A phi75: In silence

Hi Thanh,
thank you very much for this charming note about my humble work or passion for photography. We recently came back from Vietnam, my wife is pure Viet , mom and dad are viets and living in France since a long time, some members of their family return to live there!
Concerning my mother and her past family, they lived in Saigon during French occupency, but she is still living in France, she'll probably come with us next trip to look at her youth hometown, she use to go to school in the same neibourghood as my wife mother, and they are the same age! Life so strange sometime, for my wife and I, this trip was a kind of return to our "roots", every French who lived in Vietnam still have nostalgy of this time, since I was a young boy, I remember stories about Vietnam from my mother or grandfather. And during our stay in Saigon, I used to speak French with older person, they had a large smile, I knew most of them spoke French, and they were happy so remember few words and to see me married with a Viet , a kind of natural return , the grand son of the French Colon, got the "yellow land" fever. One time in Cho Lon, an old man came to me , only because he heard me speaking French and also 'cause he saw my wife! In Saigon, I've been in many places, some with no tourist, I was like at home, people couls see it , and nobody had bad attitude or bad words for me , I was like in my home land. I know people can see when you are really honest and with a clean soul! This country is for me like a rebirth , the most suprising thing is concerning food, I eat meals that I never dare to eat in France, don't know why myself, maybe this invisible strengh that push people to get closer with others.
Thank you again , to help me to discover myself......
Sincerly,
Philippe
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  #3  
Old 04-30-2006, 02:07 PM
ngythanh ngythanh is offline
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Default Saigon, Saigon... (1)

Dear Phil:

Coincidentally, today, The New York Times published an interesting article about French people coming back to visit Saigon that I think I should post here to share with you and other TE friends (since NYT requires registered membership to access their online posting). Here you go. Enjoy!


***

The Saigon of Marguerite Duras (1)

(By MATT GROSS / The New York Times / 04-30-2006)

[text removed for copyright reasons by admin]
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  #4  
Old 04-30-2006, 02:09 PM
ngythanh ngythanh is offline
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Default Saigon, Saigon... (2)

The Saigon of Marguerite Duras (2)

(By MATT GROSS / The New York Times / 04-30-2006)


(Continued)

The next morning, I descended from Room 205 in an Italian linen suit, the closest thing I had to the lover's raw-silk outfit. Outside was a topless, white 1930's Citroën Traction, a substitute for the lover's black Morris Léon Bollée, which I'd hired to take Sita and me to Sa Dec and back. The driver was Mr. Chien, a fit, dashing Vietnamese in his late 30's, who gently steered the Citroën's luxurious bulk through the crammed streets to Sita's house across the river.

She emerged looking like Marguerite Duras reincarnated. Thin as a teenager, she had on a light sundress, and her hair hung down in braids from under the fedora she wears even when she's not pretending to be someone's fictional mistress.

For 15 minutes, we reveled in the image we presented — two stylish travelers off for a weekend in the country. Then we began to feel guilty; this was a little too neocolonial. Meanwhile, we realized we had no air-conditioning and nothing to block the dirt that gets kicked up along Vietnam's highways. The road to the Mekong Delta is not, as it's pictured in the film "The Lover," a rust-colored path through verdant, unpopulated rice paddies. Vietnam's surging economy has brought with it urban sprawl, and factories, offices and industrial parks were all there was to see for many, many miles.

But the eyesores did eventually come to an end, just before we crossed the My Thuan Bridge, a sparkling mile-long span over the Mekong that was built by Australia in 2000 and made obsolete the ferry on which Duras — then Marguerite Donnadieu — and her lover first met. From there, a bumpy road dotted with hivelike brick factories led to Sa Dec.

Sa Dec, population 96,000, may be the quintessential river town. Sandwiched between two branches of the Mekong, it is threaded through with streams and canals over which arc bridges of all sizes. All along the water, there are shops and warehouses sending rice flour and pigs along a trade route that has served the town for centuries.

Signs of Sa Dec's most famous residents were not, however, immediately apparent. At the Bong Hong Hotel, Sita and I checked into separate rooms (some affair!), changed out of our fancy duds and, while Mr. Chien bathed his dusty Citroën, began our inquiries: Where could we find the riverfront house of a rich Chinese man? No one we asked gave coherent directions, but they all knew who we were talking about: Huynh Thuy Le, a k a the Lover.

Still, somehow, we made it to the colonial villa that served as the Donnadieu residence in the movie (it's now a Department of Education office), and then to a low house with a Chinese-style ridged roof. Was this really the "big villa" with "blue balustrades" and "tiers of terraces overlooking the Mekong" where the Lover had lived? Its current occupants, the antidrug police, did not look interested in talking to us.

Finally, our motorbike taxis took us to the Truong Vuong Primary School, which we had been told was built by the French. It did indeed look colonial, and as Sita and I stood in the quiet courtyard, a man in white pants and black slacks waved at us from the doorway of his office and called out, "Bonjour!"

Mr. Sang was a shy, gentle French teacher in his 60's who had spent his entire life in Sa Dec. This school, he explained carefully, had most likely been that run by Duras's mother, but one could not be sure.

"There are no documents," he said. "Others have said that Madame Donnadieu lived here, since the director had a house next door in order to observe the school. But everything has changed. One cannot find the exact site."

We asked about the drug-squad headquarters, and he confirmed that it had indeed been the Lover's villa. Then he offered to be our tour guide: "You and your friend are foreigners in my country," he said, "so it is my duty as a Vietnamese to show you around." How could we refuse?

Our first stop was the tomb of the Lover and his Chinese wife, on a concrete island in an algae-covered pond near our hotel. A white gate marked with Chinese characters hung above the tombs; a neighboring isle had two more, those of the Lover's parents, who refused to let him marry Duras.

Mr. Sang next brought us to the Chua Huong pagoda, built in 1838, to which the Lover had donated heavily. Inside, past a turtle-filled pool, we discovered an ornate shrine displaying two photographs. They were, Mr. Sang said, Huynh Thuy Le and his wife.

The Lover looked to be in his early 70's, thin and mostly bald, but with "the white skin of the North Chinese" that once caught Duras's attention. Was there regret in his eyes? Years after their affair, he phoned Duras in Paris to tell her "he would never stop loving her for the rest of his life." Perhaps that is why his wife, in her photo, looks so uncomfortable, so unloved.

Outside, a light rain began to fall, and we hurried to the car. Mr. Chien drove us all through the wet streets, then we treated Mr. Sang to a dinner of stewed pork and sour fish soup with bong dien dien, a kind of Vietnamese zucchini blossom. Afterward, Sita and I retreated to our respective rooms, and I put a bootleg DVD of "The Lover" in my iBook. It wouldn't play. Instead I watched "Sin City," and fell asleep alone.
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  #5  
Old 04-30-2006, 02:51 PM
phi75 phi75 is offline
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Default Re: Saigon, Saigon... (1)

Hi Thanh,

Send the article on my e-mail!

[email protected]

thanks
philippe
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  #6  
Old 04-30-2006, 06:10 PM
ngythanh ngythanh is offline
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Default Re: Saigon, Saigon... (1)

Sorry about the "removal" off TE, Philippe. As you see, I clearly stated the name of author, the newspaper and the date but they still think I stole the article ;o)
There is an alternative: you can access the text by clicking this link, then read #133.

Enjoy!

Thanh
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