Beautiful giclee fine art prints masterfully created in Hong Kong

(we deliver worldwide)

See the open and limited editions series galleries below....

Vietnam 360

In 2013, I hatched a half baked mad plan. I would call it the Saigon to Saigon Up & Down tour I decided.  The idea was to ride on a little Honda Dream 100cc from Saigon to Hanoi and then around the entire northern border with China and then 'nip' back down the Ho Chi Minh trail.  For the sake of this gallery section, I've elected to change the name to Vietnam 360. 

 

The day before my departure, I posted this on my Facebook page.

 

'If any of you are interested, just keep an eye on this post. I'll try and make it as entertaining and as visually compelling as I can given my 1 digit IQ, generally sloppy photography skills and poor linguistic capabilities (Engelush and Vietnamese). Oh and yes I will probably get lost along the way...but then again that's supposed to be half the fun'.

What follows is a day by day diary, to provide you the viewer of this limited edition collection of contemporary Vietnamese photographs, some anecdotal and behind the scenes insights into what I can only describe as been one of the most memorable motorbike trips of all my wanderings on  two wheels.
Richard.  Hong Kong.  2020

 

Day 1 of my little adventure. Saigon to Dalat. 234km. Taken me 12 hours to limp into the hills station founded by the French bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin 200 yrs ago. Last 5 hours of my travels at night. Total NIGHTmare! Buses and juggernauts coming at me head on, overtaking each other at speed with headlights full beam, using the full width of both lanes and here I come bouncing along on a road with potholes the size of bomb craters, I can't see a bloody thing and my only course of action to defer imminent death is to swerve off the road altogether into the even more indented and muddy soft shoulder. From now on no more night riding!

MileAGE at start. See how much I've AGED by the time this little sorte is complete.

Hammocks are a way of life in 'Da Nam. Short stop to check my maps , have a spot of lunch.

What a load of red Bull....

The problem with my scooter is I have to dismantle the whole wrack/pack shebang every time I need to refuel. I didn't think of that when I opted for the Dream mode of transport....

Lunch! A piping hot bowl of Pho Ga (Chicken Vermicelli noodle soup), with lashings of chillies, basil, bean sprouts etc etc..hmm yum yum.

The last Vietnamese wild Rhino was poached in 2010. All they got now is are stone ones.

Đà Lạt

Lâm Đồng Province

 LIMITED EDITION

Series edition of 20. Own or give a gift of a print that is part of an exclusive collection of not more than 20 printed worldwide. Each print will be numbered and signed by the artist.

art ships without frames

Day 2. Dalat. Some serious picture taking today. Well as serious I can make it anyway :-) This town has it all! A cooler climate so strawberry, blackberry & flower cultivation par none! Fine French architecture in the Cremmaillere & myriad abandoned villas! It's gown immensely since my first visit in 1991. Not the quiet town I remember as a 28 yr old pictured here with a well known artist of the time. Now akin to a city, Dalat's former bohemian air has vapourized into scooter fumes!

Day 3. Dalat. Zen & the Art of Motorcycle destruction part 1. (Sorry Mark I bought this Dream from you in mint condition I fear it's not going to be too mint when I get it home. But at least it's mine to destroy) :-( OK so decided to go off-road, for a spot of pre Ho Chi Minh trail mud slinging practice with road tires, I and drew some interesting Dream induced conclusions. First off. Going up 55 degree rutted tracks that are the consistency of red goo with mud impacted tyres is hard going. A bit slippy. However coming down is well err like riding down a foofy slide...! Brake front and back and nothing happens, you just keep sliding and sliding. It was only a miracle that I did not mangle myself and my bike, just day 3 into my adventure.

Second bit of fun was on the Bridge over the River Spadoosh. I decided on the great idea of parking my bike mid bridge and then to hurry back off to vantage point for scenic photie. Ahaha. So park bike on stand, alight, begin walking back towards terra firma. Alas the taught suspension wires and flimsy wood planks meant that every step of my 82kg frame I had the entire bridge bouncing about like a trampoline and my bike promising to do a somersault into the river below. Realizing my predicament, but still adamant I get the shot, I had to resort to walking like a man on a wire 200ft up, slowly, tip toe like to towards land. This had the locals in absolute hysterics and they all lined up to watch the spectacle this silly foreigner trying to drown his bike. They got a double take as I crawled back towards it on my hands and knees....I just wish someone had been there with me to snap a pic. I must have looked ridiculous.

3.jpeg

Day 4. Dalat (1475m above sea level) to Nha Trang (0m). Stunning 164km ride down down down from the cool central highlands ( jersey weather, first time I've worn one in 3 years in Vietnam. Felt strange to be cold) on a lovely bit of convoluted French built tarmacadam to the sultry moist low lands. Some nice vistas both from the top and then looking back to the peaks I had just traversed. Could well have been Mpumalanga! :-) But for one very noticeable difference! Instead of droewors & skyfies (dry sausage and chips) for lunch instead Banh Trang at a road side stall, washed down with a glass of hot & delicious yellow tea. The oversized spring rolls (I had 2) mouth watering ingredients are;

100g rice paper thin, soft and small.
2 teaspoons salt shrimp.
1 teaspoon sate.
1 tablespoon onion.
2 cranberry fruit (rule).
Laksa leaves.
50g dried beef.
Quail eggs (depending on preference)

Bloody yummy....yes the landscape might look a tad like some parts of South Africa, but the pad kos (road food) is way way better! :-)

Anyway, arrived in Nha Trang and took me ages to find a hotel. All full due it seems, to the Russian Summer hols. This place is crawling with some very overweight Ruskies, but equally some very delectable young Rusky-ettes. My hotel conundrum soon sorted itself out and I found by chance a room with one helluva veiw of the Bay of Nha Trang. Perfect for a lazy photographer like me. All I had to do this evening is point my camera out of the window. And even better after a night on the town all I gotta do tomorrow at dawn is the same.

4.jpeg

Nha Trang

LIMITED EDITION

Series edition of 20. Own or give a gift of a print that is part of an exclusive collection of not more than 20 printed worldwide. Each print will be numbered and signed by the artist.

art ships without frames

Day 5. Afternoon. Cam Ranh Bay.


Historically, the bay has been significant from a military standpoint. The French used it as a naval base for their forces in Indochina. It was also used as a staging area for the Imperial Russian fleet under Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky prior to the Battle of Tsushima in 1905, and by the Japanese Imperial Navy in preparation for the invasion of Malaysia in 1942. The United States Navy operated a major port facility at Cam Ranh, and the United States Army had a major presence there as well. Four years after the fall of Saigon and the unification of North and South Vietnam, Cam Ranh Bay became an important cold war naval base for the Soviet Pacific Fleet. On May 2, 2002, the Russian flag was lowered for the last time.

So after checking maps and google earth I set off for the 45 km run down the coast from Nha Trang, expecting to be able to explore the old vestiges of Russia's maritime grandeur in East Asia. From the google earth images the sandy peninsular that arcs around the bay all looked rather abandoned and it seemed plausible I could go find some great photos. Alas. Once I came upon the road I knew led me to this treasure trove, around a bend I ran into a Vietnamese Navy checkpoint. I gestured beyond the check-point with the universal bent finger in click click motion. They were having non of it.... Forlorn I took off back where I had come from. But you can't keep a good dog down, and I still managed to bring back a few 'trophies', as can be seen following.


1) Strange army post that was housed in two buildings kind of Sinbad meets Napolean style. Needless to say I got chased off the land!
2) Beautiful bit of Vietnamese 'Propaganda style' signage for aforementioned army post.
3) Another police post with mechanic working on a War era Jeep. 4) And my favourite. Roadside scooter fuel mix, and guy towing polystyrene kegs behind him in the rain.

Day 6. Nha Trang. The Oceanographic museum and something about bottled exhibits piqued my interest. Hmm I thought, might be something fusty and cobweb covered there! And sure enough... :-)


First thing that greets you though as you walk in past the ticket office is Vietnam's Hydroplane experiment. I wonder why it's up on stilts. haha. :-) Ok then my eyes fall on a sight to behold. Hundreds of cobweb covered bottles containing all sorts of marine specimens.. Many on these shelves since the 1940's. Ouch!!! I paid the attendant 100,000 dong ($5) and he let me spend 4 hours carting bottles of my choice to a quiet corner to photograph them. Here are a few of them... ;-)

Tomorrow heading on up the coast....

To see the beautiful

Maritimus Oriental

SIGNATURE

LIMITED EDITION OF 3

giclee fine art prints masterfully created in Hong Kong

(we deliver worldwide)

Click image below!

Day 7. Up the coast to Thuy Hoa. First off. Those little orange things either side of scooter ahead are not indicators. See next photo for answer :-)

Ok at the top of Co Mau pass view of ship fuel storage depot in Vung Ro bay.

Arrival in Thuy Hoa. Nondescript little town, non the less found a few interesting things.

Club Nach Xanh is straight out of the swinging 60's Vietnam. Tuy Hoa just 160km north of Nha Trang well below the 17th Parallel, still in US controlled Vietnam, I guess this joint was a hip place to jive during the war years. Still on the subject of war...sobering reminder of the millions of Vietnamese that died during that senseless war. A memorial on a hill overlooking the town, with hundreds of names inside inscribed on marble slabs. The Vietnamese regularly pay respects to the dead in many ways, with burning joss sticks at temples to appease the spirits is one of them...

Day 7. Up the coast to Thuy Hoa. First off. Those little orange things either side of scooter ahead are not indicators. See next photo for answer :-)

Ok at the top of Co Mau pass view of ship fuel storage depot in Vung Ro bay.

Arrival in Thuy Hoa. Nondescript little town, non the less found a few interesting things.

Club Nach Xanh is straight out of the swinging 60's Vietnam. Tuy Hoa just 160km north of Nha Trang well below the 17th Parallel, still in US controlled Vietnam, I guess this joint was a hip place to jive during the war years. Still on the subject of war...sobering reminder of the millions of Vietnamese that died during that senseless war. A memorial on a hill overlooking the town, with hundreds of names inside inscribed on marble slabs. The Vietnamese regularly pay respects to the dead in many ways, with burning joss sticks at temples to appease the spirits is one of them...

LIMITED EDITION

Series edition of 20. Own or give a gift of a print that is part of an exclusive collection of not more than 20 printed worldwide. Each print will be numbered and signed by the artist.

art ships without frames

Thuy Hoa

Day 8. Thuy Hoa to Quy Nhon. OK first off. In the load out stakes. I lose! :-(

Second. Long day. Took a side road sign posted Vung La thinking it was a scenic route to Quy Nhon. 30km. So rutted average speed 10km/h. Came to a dead end. 6hr deviation. Jesus & road so shagged my first puncture. Fortunately was only a 1/2 km push. Bike too heavy to ride on flat tire. Besides that. Great day. Some amazing vistas riding the coast. And some interesting bits & bobs along the way...like pickled gecko in jars. I remember coming to the 'Nam in 2001 and one would still see these oversized or giant geckos hanging around house lights at dusk. Sadly you don't see too many these days. I wonder why?

Day 9. Quy Nhon. Morning. Laugh a minute. Driver Minh. Best dressed private in the Vietnamese army :-) Vietnamese air force Mig takes off with new advanced state of the art munitions. Heat seeking canaries!!!! And Vietnamese NAVY SEALS craft. Can be used as bathtub while en-route to INFIL point. On a more serious note. Hells Kitchen. These guys make Gordon Ramsey look like some lame reality TV show...

Quy Nhon

 LIMITED EDITION

Series edition of 20. Own or give a gift of a print that is part of an exclusive collection of not more than 20 printed worldwide. Each print will be numbered and signed by the artist.

art ships without frames

Day 10. Quy Nhon to Quang Nhai.

 

Day with my ass predominantly on the Dream seat. A tad numb to say the least. While only 120km apart I took again the coast road, which was spectacular...albeit again rather slow going. But good to be off Highway 1 (the main north/south liberation road as it's know) since it's the domain of kamikaze bus and truck drivers...who seem to take joy in overtaking on blind corners using a combination of headlamps and 1000 decibel horns, to scare all oncoming motorcycle and cars for that matter into the gutter. Many of the trucks are of the USA Mac juggernaut variety, OK on 4 lane US interstates, but put them on a crappy 2 lane Vietnamese road, and drivers use them as bulldozers and they just cause chaos and mayhem...

Talking trucks. This battered old beast surely a veteran of the war (with grill lamps guards it looks kind of military) caught my eye. And rest of pics today, since i shot very little, I've decided to post a few of my favourite Vietnamese propaganda style signage that just fascinates me.

Tomorrow will be a sombre day around My Lai. The site of the 1968 massacre (+- 400 civilians killed) that galvanized US public opinion against the war and demonized the military and their tactics.

Day 11. Quang Ngai Province. My Lai.

The My Lai massacre is probably one of the most infamous events of the Vietnam War. It took place on March 16th 1968. Shortly after dawn on March 16th, three platoons of US troops from C Company, 11th Brigade, arrived in the My Lai area having been dropped off by helicopters on a seek and destroy mission commanded by Lieutenant William Calley.

The soldiers had been advised before the attack by army command that all who were found in My Lai could be considered VC or active VC sympathizers, and told to destroy the village. They acted with extraordinary brutality, raping and torturing villagers before killing them and dragging dozens of people, including young children and babies, into a ditch and executing them with automatic weapons.

One soldier who was at My Lai, Varnado Simpson, stated in December 1969:

“Everyone who went into the village had in mind to kill. We had lost a lot of buddies and it was a VC stronghold. We considered them either VC or helping the VC.”

Today I met 4 survivors of the 10 people total that managed to elude death that day. Most of the entire hamlet population of over 500 perished. Each of those photographed told me how they managed to survive.

 

A very sobering narrative indeed.

My Lai Survivors

1/1

Day 12. Quang Ngai to Hoi An.

Am I character in George Orwell's Animal Farm? I waved goodbye to the resident Cockerel who was more cheerful than the receptionist at the hotel this morning in Quang Ngai and set off for the 60km run up to Hoi An. Ran into a herd of buffaloes en-route and upon arrival in Hoi And, checked in to my cheapie hotel, and herewith the view out of my window. Could one get a more classic SE Asian scene? The ubiquitous Water Buffalo taking shade under Elephant grass, while sibling stands not far off munching on water hyacinth and ducks waddling about in the creek. And I swear to God non of it is a photoshop montage. Promise!!!!

Day 13. Hoi An. OK today is a right______OFF. Last night was a NIGHT______mare.

Actually not that bad ;-) However, broke my no drinking for a month oath and feel very guilty. Also head today feeling like a Volcano. Knowing Hoi An to be a party town I decided (foolishly) on a night of some R&R after been ensconced in the Vietnamese jungle for 8 days. A friend of mine (who lives in Hoi An but was out of town) recommended I go to a bar/club called VOLCANO (I wonder why it's called that?) Basically the deal been one pays VND 80,000 at the door for all the spirits you can drink from 11pm-3am. (80,000 dong sounds like a lot but in fact its just $4 :-)).

So silly Dwitchard thinking this was the deal of the century walked through the door. "Gimme a glass of whiskey" I shouted across the bedlam to the bargirl! What I got was a plastic tumbler of something that was a mixture of 70% methylated spirits and 30% the cheapest moonshine plonk in the world. Needless to say I drank a few tumblers full and then after annoying all the pretty young FINGS in the club, attempted to ride home to my hotel....

The problem was I'd forgot exactly where my hotel was! I then proceeded to drain off my last 1/4 of tank (average full tank 160km) of fuel, approx 40km driving around a town (that has four main streets) in circles looking for my digs. At one point I got so exasperated I considered just pulling over and dossing on the pavement. Finally though at daybreak I puttered into the hotel car park, engine running on fumes. Probably could have run on my breath too... and so today...TOTAL RIGHT OFF! No more R&R for the rest of the trip.... hmmm I've said that before...

Day 14. Hoi An.

Productive portrait morning now the alcohol induced haze has cleared. Hoi An Red Cross piqued my interest. And what I found inside was a real gem! A certain 78 yr old Mr Nguyen Minh Nguyet who as can be seen from his medallion encrusted jacket is a highly decorated veteran of the war. I tend to think he probably blapped more Americans than I've had hot dinners, but with his happy demeanor I couldn't imagine him harming a fly. So with his wife nearby he kept coming over and kissing me on both cheeks. Not once but 4 times. That's four separate encounters. Hmmm guess he likes blondes! :-) Oh and was the last one to wave me goodbye...

Tomorrow I'm going to take him and his delightful wife out for lunch with an interpreter, and find out just how much of a headache he was for the US army. :-)

I also include a portrait of 4 generations of the Nguyen family. I don't know where all the men folk are. Oh out the back sleeping!! :-) And some whitey's burning themselves pink at China beach Danang.

Day 15. Hoi An. Some great shots around Hoi An today, but wanted to post a series that came at the end of the day. Namely DUCKFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL. :-) Cowboys have horses to corral cattle. Farmers have dogs to corral sheep. But Ducks? Well you have oars and a canoe!! And the ducks can swim and waddle faster than you can paddle. So watching this duck herding enfold was the funniest thing I've seen for a long time. These guys had to repeatedly chase renegade, breakaway Duck Dastardly's, who were literally swimming for their lives (I think they were next on the duck pate list) out across the river. Not once but three times! As you can see the OPERATION DAFFY DUCK started in daylight and it was almost dark before they had them all on the road and waddling to market. Just another day in the 'Nam....!!

Day 16. Hoi An. Some Bruegel and Constable inspired landscapes from yesterday. :-) Think today will ride to the top of the Hai Van pass. DMZ country...17th Parallel. The old North/South dividing line. Plan is then to head up country to Hue tomorrow.

Day 16. Hoi An. Some Bruegel and Constable inspired landscapes from yesterday. :-) Think today will ride to the top of the Hai Van pass. DMZ country...17th Parallel. The old North/South dividing line. Plan is then to head up country to Hue tomorrow.

Hoi An

LIMITED EDITION

Series edition of 20. Own or give a gift of a print that is part of an exclusive collection of not more than 20 printed worldwide. Each print will be numbered and signed by the artist.

art ships without frames

Day 18. Danang. At the foot of the High Van pass, at the end of the Nam O beach where famously the first US combat troops arrived in 1965, the river Song Cue De river hits the sea. At the river mouth fishermen set large fish traps that are suspended on a levitating suspension system that allows the net to be lowered and raised in and out of the water. As I crossed the bridge I saw something amazing enfolding below. A guy in a floating bamboo basket, negotiating his passage below the huge hanging net, then carefully retrieving the few silvery fish that were his meager bounty for the day. A balancing act to say the least....oh well just another day in the 'Nam

Day 19. Danang/Hoi An. Day sightseeing and hanging out with a Danish friend of mine Simone. She arrived in Danang Friday night and we will travel together for a while. Since I can't fit her on my bike due to the baggage load-out logistics, ;-) she will take the train to Hue Sunday morning and I will ride the 100km over the stunning High Van pass. We will then spend a few days exploring Hue. Nice to have some pleasant company! She also nice to look at :-)

LIMITED EDITION

Series edition of 20. Own or give a gift of a print that is part of an exclusive collection of not more than 20 printed worldwide. Each print will be numbered and signed by the artist.

art ships without frames

Đà Nẵng

(Da Nang Province)

Join My Newsletter

10% special discount off anything in my gallery when you sign up as a token of my appreciation.

  • Instagram
  • Facebook