Málaga Ashtanga Yoga and Billie E
Joined a local gym today. The main reason being they have 3 yoga classes a week. I’ve not been practicing enough these last 3-4 weeks and I need to get back on track asap. Three classes a week is ridiculous when compared with my previous gym, My An Sports Center in Da Nang Vietnam, where they offer a whopping 5 classes a day, six days a week.

Whatever.

Tonight’s class was good, and even if I’m not a huge fan of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, small and dimly lit yoga rooms, I still enjoyed pushing my stiff body’s physical limits. Unsurprisingly, the instructor guided us in Spanish, which I understand marginally better than Vietnamese. I can count well enough, so that made it a little easier to follow. And even if some might feel a little uncomfortable when I sneak peek around to see what needs to be adjusted, tweaked or stretched, it’s absolutely “necesario”.

I was the only dude at tonight’s class. Somehow I doubt that yoga attracts Spanish men. It’s probably not macho enough. They don’t know what they’re missing. Walking home from the gym today I realized how warm it felt. These past sunny days have given us comfortable evening temperatures. It’s still jacket ‘n sweater season for sure. But that could be over real soon. Maybe even by next week.

So happy for Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell for sweeping up so many Grammy’s last night. What a talented team. Sad to hear of the helicopter crash and tragic death of former NBA giant Kobe Bryant and his young daughter Gianni. Don’t understand why the pilot was granted special permission to fly during such extremely poor visibility.

 


Mutt at Pedregalejo, Málaga.

Saw this fluffy mutt during yesterday’s visit to the always enjoyable village Pedregalejo on the north end of Málaga. Only after a while did I realize that the poor pouch might well have been locked in between the iron bars and the window by his owners. I really hope not.


Rooftop View Málaga

 

After a few days of intense rain and relatively cold weather, the sun rose over Málaga this morning. Here’s what it looked like from the rooftop of our apartment building, where, as soon as it gets a little warmer, I plan on practicing Yoga and Qigong.

 


Coronavirus: Symptomatic of Mindlessness

In a few hours, after four months in Asia, daughter Elle will arrive in Göteborg, Sweden. She sent me a safety-masked selfie from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport just before boarding. The scare of the Coronavirus is apparently widespread and growing rapidly.

I wonder what it’s going to take, epidemiologically speaking, before Chinese officials responsible for providing informed guidelines and implementing/enforcing regulations on hygiene and animal welfare, start taking their jobs seriously. Doesn’t the government in Beijing understand the potential risks, even after Sars and other related viral epidemics that stem from unhealthy food production practices? And while they’re at it, maybe it’s also time to start promoting a plant-based diet to its 1.5 billion population.

I’ve been to so many food markets in China and other parts of Asia. They’re often fascinating, exotic places filled with vibrant colors and a wealth of rich, often pungent smells. But after each visit, I am convinced that excluding meat and poultry from my diet is so right.

The lack of empathy for animals in general and the brutal enslavement these creatures must endure in factory farms before reaching the dinner table is symptomatic of a mindless society that has lost touch with the planet and where common sense is long, long gone.

The sheep above are from an island in Sweden called Orust. As soon as they saw us, the fled. Rightly so.


Which Switch?

This piece is aptly called “Which Switch?”. It’s based on a photo shot somewhere within an old industrial workshop in Malmö, Sweden. I’ve sold it in varying sizes and on different materials, but I wonder if the visual appeal of those that have bought it is at least partially aligned with my initial concept of what it means to have too many choices and the mental stress from chronic ambiguity.

I was recently once again invited to the juried exhibition arranged by the cultural association MKK during Malmö Gallery Night 2020. Last year’s show went really well with a steady stream of visitors and four works sold. Looking forward to participating again with new pieces. Now all I have to do is create them…


Local But Global

These words are written from a hotel room in Malmö, not that far from where I shot the above scene of Möllevångstorget – one of Malmö’s most popular and culturally eclectic, open-air markets. I’m currently watching a live broadcast from the US Senate’s impeachment hearing in D.C. with a stream of German instrumental electronica from the Internet station Groove Salad of San Francisco as backdrop music to the unusually syrupy proceedings. I just got back from the hotel’s lobby bar where I ate two tasty Mexican tacos (veg) provided by a kind woman from Columbia (Bogota) who also supplied me with a cold draft beer named Eriksberg, a neighborhod on the outskirts of Göteborg.


Back in Malmö

Back in Malmö for the first time since the beginning of last October. First visit of 2020, even. Enjoyed a spectacularly glitch-free trip up from southern Spain. Connected to every means of communication beautifully; taxi, plane, train. Yes, it’s grey and cold. Yet somehow hopeful. Here for a few days to work for Mr. Stordalen again.


Málaga: Contrastico Fantastico

The fact that the trashcan above had the text “USAME” on it vertically was so poetically apt, that not getting a shot of it would have been malpractice.

I seem to be following in love with Spain again. It’s been an on and off relationship since we lived in Mallorca many moons ago and I’m now back at the point where I find there’s more to appreciate then to dislike. I still easily overdose on tapas, though. And in the long run, the omnipresent, life-embracing, late-night culture, is way too alluringly insalubrious for me. Last night was spent with friends at a couple of real gems, a tiny bar run by a couple from Belgium called Fonzo and a wonderfully outlandish “speakeasy” called The Pharmacy where they have a wide selection of both tasty and colorful concoctions of 100% liquid prescriptions.

Visually, Málaga’s Centro Historico and the downtown area is nothing short of fantastic. So much wonderful patina, artful decay, and brutal contrasts between the obsessively well-kept, endlessly neglected and stuff that is just downright butt-ugly. Best of all, Málaga feels so manageable and accessible. At least when compared with Madrid or Barcelona – and though there are quite a few Swedes here, it’s not nearly as incestuous as Palma de Mallorca can be. Málaga is kinda the perfect sized city. Now, if we could only find somewhere to live…


Pugs @ El Corte Ingles

Shot this gang of four-legged buddies just outside of the prestigious store, El Corte Ingles earlier today. Come to think of it, I don’t really know if El Corte Ingles actually is all that fancy. But since the brand translates to “The English Court”, I’m just assuming that at least at some point in time, it aimed to be high street. Today, I doubt if most Spaniards even think about what the place is called. And those pugs could obviously care even less.


New Apartment View

After discovering a water leakage from the ceiling of our old apartment here on Calle Los Negros (yeah, I hate the name too, apparently, the street we live on right now is where the first emancipated African slaves were allowed to settle, which doesn’t explain why it’s still called “The Blacks”) we were offered a new place further down the hallway. While it won’t ever win a prize for its interior decorating, it’s undeniably bigger, brighter and has two bathrooms. Not sure if we’ll be allowed to make the switch permanently or, if not, how long we’ll be able to stay in this new place. We are, after all, in Spain where Captain Whimsical and General Mañana still rule the land. But for now, we’ve never been more comfortable in Malaga.

Update: we have to move out tomorrow…but as compensation, we’ve been offered a smaller and darker apartment with only one bathroom. And if we’re really lucky, the new flat will be even closer to where the building’s ongoing construction is best heard and felt. So there you go.


Picassofied

We live right just a few hundred meters from Plaza de la Merced, arguably most famous for being the square on which artist Pablo Picasso was born. So, as one can imagine, there is no shortage of physical and lyrical references of the neighborhood’s favorite son there. Like this cutout at one of the half dozen taverns and taperias on the sunny side of the square. Oh, and if you were wondering, Paco is still missing. Just heard a dozen or so shoutouts.


Sunday Dinner @ Playa de Pedregalejo

Where is Paco?

Paaaco! Paaaaco! Paaaaco! As I’m typing these words, there’s an old lady across the street yelling incisively down from her kitchen window. She’s trying to get in touch with someone or something called Paco. Her voice is cranky and nagging and if I were Paco, I’d definitely stay the fuck away.

As tiring as it is to hear, I can’t help but wonder if Paco is her dog, her husband or a son. Maybe it’s her lover and he’s just got so insanely sick of looking at her and listening to that demanding, scratchy voice, that he just picked up and left, sneaking out while she was taking her morning dump. He might even have thrown himself out the window and is now slowly and painfully crawling his way to his newfound, albeit crippled freedom. If it’s her dog, I pray the tortured creature is long and forever gone.


Down by the Waterfront

Shopping on Wheels

Today I bought something I never conceived I would own, namely, a shopping trolley. Not that I had any prejudices about them per ce. Sure, they’ve been around forever, I just never envisioned that I’d have the need to use one. At least not at 56.

Here in Málaga, the only way to really enjoy a shopping experience, at least when buying groceries, is at the formidable Mercado Central de Atarazanas. It’s a classic indoor market hall filled with rich colors, intense smells and buzzing with activity. Gothenburg has a similarly lively indoor market, much smaller though. I love these places. There are plenty of smaller Mercados around town. But they’re grimy and shabby and reliably uninspiring.

Since we’re currently living aways from the Mercado Central, we were advised by Swedish American friends to immediately invest in a shopping trolley. So before today’s market visit began, I bought one at a hardware store near the market. As convenient as it was to just relinquish everything I purchased straight into the trolley’s belly, it felt a little awkward walking home with it wobbling unsteadily behind me. Not that I haven’t rolled camera bags and cases hundreds if not thousands of miles over the years. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder if a new era hadn’t just begun. That once you start using one of these trolleys, you just never stop.

I could never have carried all of today’s stuff home in my arms. The weight from the large watermelon, giant beef tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, roasted almonds, carrots, oranges, and raisins was just wonderfully offloaded by the little trolley. And the only reason I broke into a slight sweat on my way home was because of the relatively hot midday January sun. Shot the trolley just down the street from our temporary flat where there’s a ton of most beautiful murals and graffiti.


Chinese Tourist in Málaga

It was certainly a long-haul, but a surprisingly smooth ride traveling to Málaga from Bangkok via Copenhagen. Not a single hitch or glitch along the way. We even managed to sleep 9 hours straight our first night as residence here in Andalusia.

There doesn’t seem to be much tourism in Málaga this time of year. Which is just fine for us as it’ll provide an opportunity to get to know the city before the inexorable tourist season kicks in.

The above piece was created from a dozen or so images I shot during last year’s visit to Málaga. In the middle of the collage is a young Chinese tween I saw outside of a hotel, possibly waiting for a taxi or an Uber.

Her head was slightly bent downwards, as if she was in deep prayer. Her eyes entranced on whatever was happening on the giant screen she held in her tiny, bleak hand.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a solo Chinese tourist before.


The Raboffs in Bangkok

This is by far my favorite photo from our three months in Asia. It’s just a few days old and one of a handful of selfies I’ve ever taken. I shot it at the BTS Skytrain station Ari after a wonderful family weekend in Bangkok, only a few hours before Elle flew south, back to her dogs at Soi Dog – the shelter she’s been volunteering at in Phuket.

I’m writing this from Turkish Airways’ lounge at Souvannaphoum Airport where low and behold, they serve homemade (lounge made?) Turkish pizza, hummus, and other Mediterranean treats that aren’t available at a typical Priority Pass lounge. And to boot, they even offer 15 minutes of complimentary neck and shoulder massage. Only downside here: Chivas is the house (and only) whiskey.

We have about 4 hours until our 11.5-hour flight to Copenhagen. And once there, it’s another three hours until we board the next plane headed to southern Spain. Gonna feel weird with Elle being so far away from us…at least for a few weeks… when she too returns to Europe.


What Is This?

Random Breakfast Ponders

I can’t make up my mind whether or not whoever came up with the concept of the breakfast buffet should be punished or praised. What I mean is, while I really appreciate having a wide selection of breakfast treats to choose from, I don’t like having to share the experience with others.

There’s a hint of cumin in one of the loaves at the bread counter. I love cumin in bread. Especially when you toast it. It makes every other kind of bread taste meh.

I get a little paranoid just before picking up the serving spoon so I can get me some of them tasty baked beans in tomato sauce. No breakfast buffet is worth a mention without this tremendously underrated dish. But thinking of all the unwashed, nose and ass-picking fingers of people that have handled the spoon before me, certainly takes away some of the culinary excitement.

A sunny side up fried egg placed on cumin flavored toast and topped with baked beans in tomato sauce, will probably always be a favorite breakfast.

The hotel we’re staying at has a decent breakfast buffet, but between 8:30 and 9:30, it’s nerve-wracking chaotic in the dining hall. Hundreds of guests, dozens of servers, a chef or two and usually overdressed managers are scrambling about with focus and purpose gleaming from their serious faces. It’s improvisational theatre without a script or an audience and a diminishing collection of props.

At best, it takes me three round trips before I’ve got everything I want from the buffet here. Depending on how I’ve managed to amass my various dishes, either the toast and/or the eggs and/or coffee might be cold by the time I can sit down and start eating.

Sometimes I yearn for a properly made Bloody Mary with breakfast. Or, a Salty Dog. Just one.


Heavy Metal Window Shopping

This “window” belongs to the by far neatest and most organized used auto parts supply shop I’ve ever seen. Easily the tidiest in Talad Noi. I managed to get in a few shots before the lady that runs it had a complete meltdown and whisked me away like some stray cat with a camera around its neck.

I wonder if folks looking for specific parts or tools pass by and actually window-shop, similarly to what others do when they’re eyeing clothes, jewelry and handbags at Siam Paragon, Icon Siam, MBK or Gayson shopping centers here in Bangkok.

I wrote to a friend the other day how fascinating my fascination with this place still is – even after a decade. That I find it so thrilling to at least temporarily get to grab a glimpse of the often intense action and heavy metal atmosphere of Talad Noi. That said, the men that work there, the forklift drivers, welders, painters and varieties of overall-clad men doing all kinds of metalsmithing, are anything but machismo, physically or in attitude. Aside from the aforementioned lady that had the shit-fit, I can’t remember ever experiencing anyone ever getting irritated with either my curiosity or photography.

I’m heading out there again tomorrow afternoon to capture a few more portraits for a forthcoming exhibit that I’m planning to have in Malaga in a month or two.


Tattooed in Talad Noi

Another footprint from the other day’s visit to Talad Noi in Bangkok. Capturing locals like this is always a gamble. My trick? To be extremely polite, speak a few words in Thai and smile my biggest smile.


Unintentional Urban Art

No visit to Bangkok is complete without at least an afternoon spent wandering aimlessly about Talad Noi.

Even though I’ve been documenting this extraordinary neighborhood between Bang Rak to the south and Samphanthawong to the north, for about a decade already, I still get a kick out of just walking around and looking at all piles of used auto parts. I usually force myself to get lost while in Talad Noi.

Like anywhere in the world where it’s sticky hot and sweaty humid, Bangkok is best enjoyed during the late afternoon and early evening hours when the day’s worst heat begins to wane and Bangkokians become their friendliest. It’s also the time of day when I like to create images from this spectacular city and some of its most distinct neighborhoods.

Bangkok is one of those cities where if you do allow yourself to get lost for a while, you’ll inescapably stumble across interesting stuff. Which is how I end up discovering “unintentional urban art”. Like the piece above from an alley wall that I just happened to walk by on my way to a cold draft beer at a tiny bar on a busy street yesterday here in Bangkok.


Embracing Change

Here’s an iteration of a piece I’ve been working on for a while. It’s made up of 10 or so photos from Hoi An in Vietnam. As some of you might have noticed, I’ve made some changes to this site. The theme here will from now on be totally focused on my artwork. All the other stuff is still online, only now it’s got an apter and a more search engine friendly URL: www.raboffphotography.com

Change is good. I am not afraid of change, nor do I run from it. Instead, I tend to embrace change. Not always without trepidation. A dash of passing remorse or angst is probably just a healthy sign. It’s part of the deal of being a functioning human. But I never fear change itself.

After 56 years, I know something interesting will always come from when I force myself to move forward. And I’ve definitely understood that only when my urge to change becomes stronger than my need to hold on to the security of the status quo, will things actually start to happen. And I’m betting big on a lot of changes coming in 2020. Like living a life totally free of social constraints – especially of the online kind of which I’ve had more than enough.

The envy, disappointment and, yes, at times even excitement, that I’ve felt while trying to find a balance of life online and offline have shown me that I don’t belong in that world. Towards the end of my presence, I felt guilty of betraying myself. Of living a lie and being a soulless fake. But above all, I hated the fact that I took it all too seriously. And while I wish I had been able to keep a safe, humoristic distance to social media, I just wasn’t able to. At least not nearly as much as I needed to in order to stay put. So I decided to unplug. Closed all my accounts. Leaving more than 17.000 followers behind felt admittedly a little weird. But I gave them fair warning and heartfelt fairwell. Then I left. All in or all out. That’s how I roll.

I love to people watch. During these last three months, I’ve seen how transfixed folks are to their screens. Even while driving cars and scooters! It’s frightening. I worry about how this comatose behavior can possibly be remedied if not through the kind of abstinence I am subjecting myself to. Thing is, I honestly don’t feel any withdrawal symptoms. And I certainly don’t miss any of my friends’ status updates, their likes or even their comments. I do miss my friends, though.


2020 – New Year & New Decade

Return to Rattanakosin

Back in Bangkok again. Feels good to be back. The city certainly has plenty of cons but is just so much more organized and easier to navigate. For one thing, not having to deal with the crazy Vietnamese traffic culture (or, lack thereof) is truly calming for the nerves. And being able to walk freely on sidewalks again ain’t at all bad. Spent the afternoon with friends Lars-Vidar and Maria from Svarte in Sweden around town, mostly near the city’s oldest neighborhood, Rattanakosin where we ate a terrific Pad Thai on the street after baking in the sun on one of the many restaurant decks overlooking the Chao Phraya River below.

There were barely any tourists or anything but Thai restaurants wheStreet-Food-Rattanakosin-Bangkokn I first visited Rattanakosin in 1988. I remember spending hours walking around, talking to the vendors selling Buddhist hand-carved ornaments made of wood or stone and iron-cast icons along the sidewalks. I’d on occasion visit the art faculty at Silpakorn University and shoot a roll of film in the noname park near the Grand Palace as I eventually made my way back to Khao San Road and the guesthouse I was staying at.

Today, the Rattanakosin is flourishing with hotels, fancy dining spots, cafés, and a few relatively cheap sidewalk eateries. Fortunately and surprisingly, some of the area’s original rustic authenticity that I was so mesmerized by once upon a time, is still there. The only thing now is you have to share it with a bunch of fellow tourists.


The Tai Chi Trio

Here comes the last in the four-part series of short Tai Chi films for Instructor Garry Seghers and his studio.

For this one, I convinced all involved that we shoot at a somewhat distressed, urban location that would provide a stark contrast to Tai Chi’s beautifully fluid movements and the students colorful garb. While Nhan is wearing his Tai Chi uniform, the ladies are clothed with traditional Vietnamese dresses.


Can Veggie Burritos Realy Save the Planet?

This is from last night’s “Burrito, Salsa and Guacamole Workshop” at our favorite café, Puna Coffee, eloquently captured by Charlotte. I enjoyed being in their tiny kitchen, chopping, slicing, and frying. Above all, it was great working together with the owners, sharing my recipes, listening to some of their histories and getting a glimpse into their lives. The veggie burritos, guacamole, and salsa were all-around appreciated. A little disappointed that the only tortilla chips I could find were of the horrendous Doritos kind. Even when saturated with my homemade salsa and guacamole could I get the artificial favoring to subside a little. As a kid, I loved munching on Doritos. Now, knowing how chock full of chemicals and unnatural ingredients they are made of, I feel ashamed to buy, let alone consume them.

Puna Coffee & Cake in Da Nang, VietnamAfter three months here, I have mixed feelings about Da Nang (and the neighboring town of Hoi An). It’s definitely an interesting place. Much more so than I was expecting. And except for those on the roads, most folks here are friendly. It’s certainly been easy living during our stay. For sure. None of the stuff we wanted to leave behind us in Malmö has been missed. Well, I do actually miss the cooking a little.

Conveniences aside, there’s always been a looming awareness of our stay’s provisionality. Maybe it’s because of how we’re living; in a fairly fancy “aparthotel” that perhaps makes it impossible to feel like you’re anything but just another ephemeral expat.

I don’t think I’ve come to any groundbreaking conclusions about the future while we’ve been here. But I do think the soul searching I’ve undertaken has been healthy. As has the Tai Chi training, almost daily yoga classes and laps in the gym’s pool.

One thing has become incredibly clear to me during the fall here, though. The awareness level of the planet’s health or even a rudimentary understanding of what environmental sustainability entails, doesn’t exist individually, or, as far as I can tell, anywhere in the collective consciousness. It’s a bit frightening, but I also get why this is, though.

Most folks are way too occupied with trying to create a reasonably comfortable life for themselves and their families to be able to accommodate such a complex and controversial narrative as, for example, the one Greta Thunberg represents. And herein lies the most challenging intellectual dilemma of our times; explaining to folks in both developing (and developed) nations that if the prognosis is even partially correct, in order for human existence on the Earth to survive long-term, we need to redefine what is essential to our lives and the lives of generations to come – and then strike a balance in relation to the environmental costs and debts involved. A tall order, I know. Heck, I haven’t even come close to figuring how to fit these thoughts into my life. So it’s no big surprise that nobody here has a clue. Sadly, everybody (myself including) seems either oblivious or way too busy glooming and dooming to even ponder changing. Is it just like the metaphorical deer caught in the headlights at night? Is reality so paralyzingly blinding that a collision is just unavoidable? I certainly hope not.


Christmas Day Chillin’

So it’s Christmas Day here Vietnam. It might be a bit quieter than usual, but for most locals, it’s business as usual. After last nigh’s Christmas Eve dinner, we’ve not been up to much today. We ate a tasty breakfast at a popular western café called Six on Six and then zigzagged our way back home through alleys and narrow lanes. We took the above shots in one of them.

Love getting a glimpse of everyday life and greeting folks on walks like today’s. While perhaps shyer than Thais, I find Vietnamese to be just as friendly and easy-going. And I thoroughly prefer the color palette and architecture here.

We’ve seen plenty of pimped-out Christmas trees and heard more than enough of the classic tunes these last few weeks. I wonder if it’s not the emperor’s new clothes at play here. Because most folks I know flee to faraway lands like Vietnam just to avoid the Christmas frenzy, not be immersed in it.

The Vietnamese do seem to have embraced the colorfulness of the Christmas holiday. I get that. And I think they just enjoy celebrating – regardless really of why or where the tradition comes from.

But if someone conducted a survey, I’d wager a pretty penny that few Da Nangers could explain why westerners worship old men with fluffy, white beards, plastic trees with little balls hanging from its branches and yearn to listen countless times to songs like Jingle Bells and Last Christmas.


Drop-In Tai Chi Practice

Here’s from Garry Seghers Drop-In Tai Chi Practice on My Khe Beach that I’ve been attending every (rain-free) morning for a little more than a month. Not there today, though. Our buddy Tommy Sahlin is in town now and together with some friends from Hoi An, we ended up celebrating Christmas kinda late. The above was entirely shot with my iPhone. One of the advantages of shooting in 4k and publishing in HD is that the high resolution allows you to “zoom in” on the footage without losing quality.


Everyday Da Nang Life

For about a month, we’ve been pretty much alone on the beach during our early morning Tai Chi practice. As the weather is sloJoakim Lloyd Raboff Yogawly improving, producing one spectacular sunrise after another, there’s a considerable influx of photographers, joggers, surfers and as seen from the shot above from this morning, a bunch of yogis. As great as it looks and as much as I love practicing yoga on a daily basis, sand is certainly not my preferred yoga surface. For the past month, I’ve practiced yoga 6-7 days a week. The gym doesn’t offer any classes on Sundays, but there’s a couple of spaces on the roof of our building that almost seem purpose-built for yoga. Plus, you get a marvelous 360-degree view of bustling Da Nang below. The shot to the right is from yesterday afternoon’s session.

Anyway, today, I thought I’d share a breakdown of my daily routine:
05:10 am – first alarm rings
05:20 am – second alarm rings
05: 30 am – out the front door and on the street with my computer under one arm and accessories in a beige canvas bag across my shoulder. At this early hour, there’s very little traffic, which makes it safer to walk directly on the streets instead of on the sidewalks, where potholes, cracks and a general unevenness can easily become life-threatening hazards.
05:45 am – Qigong warm-up exercises before Tai Chi practice begins at…
6:00 am – Instructor Garry Seghers and his dogs Moose and Prince arrive. As soon as Moose is tied to “her” tree, we’ll begin an hourlong Tai Chi session while the sun rises.
07:00 am – walk back from the beach to My An Gym, get undressed and swim 1000 m, half breast and half freestyle. I swim every other day.
8:00 am – showered and ready for breakfast, I head either to Puna Coffee or, Bread ’n Salt where I order an avocado toast and soy milk cappuccino.
8:20 am – the day begins. I’ll typically do a bunch of different things in the course of the next 5-6 hours. Editing footage, sorting photos, writing a post, replying to emails.
04:00 pm – pack my stuff and walk back to the apartment and get ready for the 5:00 pm yoga class.
06:00 pm – I either meet Charlotte at the gym after the yoga class or, we’ll Rendez-Vous at a restaurant for dinner.
08:00 pm – return to the apartment, watch a movie.
10:00 pm – usually sound asleep or dozing off.

Repeat


Sand Man @ My Khe Beach

From earlier today after a short, afternoon surf session when I “slomo” filmed a tourist from the States rising up after being buried in the sand by his teenage kids on My Khe Beach in Da Nang, Vietnam.


The Happiness Program

I met this fellow earlier today just before my Tai Chi class on the beach. Not sure if he was on his way from a late party or on his way to work and just needed a brief workout before the day began. This weekend, which, incidentally, is our last in Vietnam, I’ve been participating in a workshop called the Happiness Program. It’s designed by a local Vietnamese chapter of the global organization The Art of Living and is primarily focused on breathing exercises, including ancient Pranayama and the So Hum mantra.

The premise behind the proclaimed benefits of So Hum meditation I find very interesting. When practiced with “So” on inhale and “Hum” on exhale, both at various intensities and intervals, the combination not only regulates our breathing pattern temporarily, it’s also supposed to make it easier to take considerably deeper breaths and thereby achieve a level of calmness that can have all kinds of physiological and psychological benefits.

While the benefits might sound like hyperbole, at its core, the effects of these breathing exercises seem perfectly logical to me. Basically, rapid breathing, if not too shallow, will naturally oxygenize the entire body – without demanding much physical exertion. And as our brain is preoccupied with maintaining and adjusting to the breathing mantra’s variable rate, once the session is over, you can’t help but feel really, really relaxed.

An equal measure of theory on how to pair the breathing methods along with a “Happiness mindset” is also part of the workshop’s curriculum. Some of it I’ve heard before, but all of it makes good sense.

Tomorrow we’ll be provided with a version of the breathing technique recommended to practice for 30-40 days in order to see tangible and lasting results.


Tai Chi Shoot

06:35 AM: The usual suspects at a Tai Chi shoot the other day during Garry Seghers’ morning sessions on My Khe Beach. I’m behind the camera for this still shot, but will be prominently featured in the footage. Mostly because I’m the dude clearly out of sync with everyone else.


Cat In The Hat

We met this beautiful cat in the hat while having dinner at a great little food court near our apartment here in Da Nang.

I don’t remember anyone reading Cat In The Hat or any other children’s books when I was a kid. I’m sure that it happened, I just don’t have any memories of who, when or what. Curiously, I do recall owning several of the Dr. Seus books and that they were among a bunch of other things I had in my room, including a windup Evil Knievel motorcycle, a bunch of busted-up Hot Wheel cars and possibly even a Raggedy Ann doll – all collected in a huge, brown wicker basket stored in a closet. My four year younger brother Tyko and I shared that room, so I’m sure the basket was emptied regularly on the floor.

When Elle was about 4 or 5, I ordered the entire Dr. Seus series and we’d read them together on nights when we didn’t make up short stories about a girl named Isabel and the adventurous life she led.

For those of you unfamiliar with The Cat in the Hat…it’s a children’s book written and illustrated by Theodor Geisel under the pen name Dr. Seus.


Miss Tran Waves Her Fan

This is Miss Tran Mai Huong, a student of Senior Instructor, Garry Seghers at Tai Chi Centre in Da Nang, Vietnam, practicing a series of Tai Chi fan form movements at a construction site near My Khe Beach. Except for the angle above Ms. Tran’s head, the film was entirely shot on my iPhone.