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My Khe Beach in Da Nang

Shot this view of “My Khe Beach” late last night from the rooftop pool of Haian Hotel, just a few floors above our corner room in Da Nang. I think corner hotel rooms are preferable for the obvious reason that they offer a less claustrophobic room experience. As we book most of our hotel nights through Charlotte’s site ASR, the “Special Request” field you get during the reservation process is usually ignored. Why? Well, while many hotels are increasingly dependent on third-party booking companies, most will also readily admit how profit margin punishing this trend is and how they wish more guest booked directly at their website. Most hotels suck at SEO, so I don’t see how their Google ranking will improve and ever topple the leading reservation sites.

I’ve never really felt that I wasn’t fairly treated when arriving as an Agoda, Booking or Hotels guest. On the other hand, over the years, I’ve never seen any of my “Special Requests” fulfilled. Not once. If I was a hotelier, I’d probably ignore them too and instead prioritize folks that add more to their bottom line through a direct booking. I’ll therefore politely ask for a corner room or at least one with a nice view, as we’re checking in. Folks working in a reception seem not to distinguish much between guests, regardless of reservation method used.
Da Nang turned out to be just what we needed after a monthlong stay in the rice fields. Our two days by the beach have gotten us thinking about maybe spending our last month in Asia right here in Da Nang where there’s decent surfing and plenty of dining options and apartments to rent, no more than a couple of blocks behind the beautifully palm tree-lined My Khe Beach.

Da Nang seems to be booming right now with construction sites all over the place. Along the shoreline, it looks a little like Oahu’s Waikiki or from what I’ve seen of Rio’s Copacabana. The beach is long and wide like in Venice but with very few visitors. I’m guessing that many, if not the majority, of Asians that are touristing in Da Nang, aren’t swim savvy. So the beach might be of limited interest. At least when compred to the abundance of shopping, seafood dining and sightseeing available here.


Chicken vs Cat vs Snail

Last night we were at The Hub, a co-working place just down the road from our home in An My Village. Three local Hoi An entrepreneurs, two Vietnamese and one Brittish woman presented themselves and shared their business experiences with about 25 (mostly) expats. The first one up was Emma, who together with her Vietnamese husband Jack, founded and operates Jack’s Cat Café, a combo charity organization, coffee shop and animal shelter, entirely dedicated to the well-being of cats. Listening to all of the challenges the couple has overcome made for a very inspiring talk. And to hear Emma explain why they still need to keep a relatively low profile because of an overshadowing threat from the illegal cat meat trade, was shocking. Avoiding disingenuous caretakers and attracting genuine foster homes for their cats seems to involve a rigorous vetting process.

Though I’d heard of how there are restaurants here that offer dog on the menu, I was completely ignorant about the cat meat trade. I did know about its existence in China, where, if it crawls, walks, flies or swims, it’s considered both edible and often desirable. This is particularly true when myths about how specific bodily organs or fluids contain aphrodisiac or health-curing properties are afloat.

I love animals. Always have. Most are fascinating creatures and I’ve had the privilege to experience some of the planet’s most majestic species up close, including great white sharks, wild lions, and Arctic moose.

Though I definitely don’t support torturous treatment of animals in China or anywhere else, I do understand that geographically, we place widely disparate emotional values on domesticated animals – usually depending on our cultural perspective. While listening to last night’s first presentation of the cat charity/café and the horrendous meat trade the founder is crusading against, I couldn’t help but wonder how many of the evening’s collective had eaten beef, pork or chicken that very same day – and the likelihood that also those poor animals had lived and died in circumstances probably not too dissimilar from the fate of creatures caught in the cat and dog meat trade.

This is quintessentially why my family and I stopped supporting the meat and poultry industries several years ago.

Why would or should we care less about how a pig is (mis) treated than you would care about the welfare of a dog? Why do we rank the planet’s animals so differently? Does a cat inherently have more worth than a chicken? I’m obviously all for supporting the fight against animal cruelty. But there’s a level of hypocrisy that clearly needs to be discussed.

The picture above? Snail eggs on on a rice field near our home in An My Village, Hoi An, Vietnam.


Koh Samui Guide

Earliter today, Charlotte noticed a memory in one of her social channel news feeds. It was from way back in 2011 when we were still producing travel guides for Swedish daily newspapers like Aftonbladet and Allt om Resor. We created and delivered a ton of them over the course of about a decade. Up until the editors we worked with either quit or become unbearable to work with. Koh Samui was the first island I ever visited in Thailand back in 1988 and it will always have a special place in my heart. But it still wouldn’t be my first choice if I were to one day move permanently to an island. Should that ever happen, I’d pick Maui without the least bit of hesitation. Interestingly, the link to our guide seems still to be active.

Some of my images from Maui are available for your viewing pleasure right here.


Gorgeous & Wonderful Imperfections

I was close to being run over last night on my way to dinner. No, I wasn’t drunk, high on shrooms or wearing clogs. I was simply walking along the sidewalk towards Bamboo, our favorite eatery here in Hoi An. Had my focus just slipped a little, or, if I’d misstepped ever-so slightly… BOOM!…I would of been a pile of aged dead meat on the street. “Good to see you didn’t end up as roadkill”, one buddy pointed out.

Though initially intended for pedestrians, most sidewalks here are in reality multifunctional spaces used for every imaginable/unimaginable purpose – most commonly as haphazard parking spots for scooters. Dodging and zigzagging in between mopeds, bicycles and other rigid, often rusty yet sharp obstacles is simply part the urban fidelity, I suppose.

Just before finally making it to the restaurant, I had this wonderful epiphany. I realized that it was likely the chaos and idiosyncrasies that make me feel so tuned-in to life whenever I’m in South East Asia. Admittedly, it can take a while before I calm down and stop cursing about the constant onslaught of death-defying road warriors that make crossing a street like Russian roulette, or, how even walking on a sidewalk feels like being trapped within a pinball machine.

Where countries in most of northern Europe stubbornly strive for a glossy, picture-perfect society, in developing countries like Vietnam, for most folks, there’s really no option other than to accept, embrace and integrate one’s life as seamlessly as possible within the imperfect, the chaotic and dysfunctional. And though we’re here as privileged guests and can easily pay our way to sidestep most discomforts (I could have taken a taxi to Bamboo last night), it’s truly humbling to take part of at least a wafer thin slice of everyday life here – and be reminded of how sterile and boring it would be without life’s wonderfully liberating imperfections.


Tam Quan Chua Ba Mu Temple

The pictoresque Tam Quan Chua Ba Mu Chinese Temple with its reflecting pond in the ancient city of Hoi An, Vietnam. Shot yesterday evening with the Fuji XT3 and Fujinon XF 16mm F1.4 prime lens. The temple reminded me of visits to Phnom Phenh and Siem Reap in Cambodia.


Yesterday at Cẩm An Beach

From yesterday’s visit to our local Cam An Beach which is considered one of the best in Vietnam. Being in the ocean and letting wave after wave wash over me has been something I’ve loved doing ever since I was a kid. They aren’t big enough for surfing, at least not right now. But in a couple of weeks, monsoon season kicks in for real and so maybe then there’ll be some decent waves to ride.

Here’s a tidy collection of my surf shots.


Avocado & Yoga

For the past two weeks, I’ve been eating a large, ripe avocado and a big carrot for lunch. That’s it. This “diet”, in combination with getting at least 5 km of walking or biking exercise a day, is helping me slowly burn off the flab around my waist. It also feels excellent to not eat so much. I’m working on it, but I still can’t shake off the coffee addiction or a cold draft beer I usually have for dinner. It’s that first alluring sip of ale that’s so hard to withstand.

Went to a yoga class at a nearby gym this past Friday. Not only was I the only foreign dude in the room, but I was also at least twice as old as any of the women there. And since the Vietnamese instructor didn’t speak a word of English, I had to look towards the others a lot of the time just to follow along – which might have come across as being a little creepy. Hopefully, I’m just projecting such thoughts.

Aside from a bit too much chanting at the beginning of the hour-long class, it was a really good workout. As she didn’t shy away from coming to my mat and tweaking my poses, afterward, I gave the instructor extra kudos for being so hands-on. Not sure if she understood me, though.

Photo Credit: Charlotte Raboff


Adjusting to Slow Life

Be it S’pore, Delhi or Bangkok, whenever and wherever I visit Asia, it’s usually bustling and busy. Well, maybe not so much Singapore. But definitely Bangkok and Delhi.

Here in the wild, wild east where water buffalo graze freely on monsoon drenched rice paddies and locals in pointy hats smile at you when you pass them on your bike, yet just a few klicks from the relatively crowded and buzzing Hoi An’s city center, it’s very calm and very quiet.

Tonight though, at a distance, I can hear what must be a fairly large karaoke party. And even if I only know (so far) two words in Vietnamese (hello and thank you), in my ears, the singing sounds like someone’s slowly slaughtering one of them water buffaloes. It sounds more like a shrieking animal – and not something a human could/would/should vocalize. It’s absolutely horrible and to boot, this is the second loud karaoke party we’ve been through this week.

2019 has been a good year for me. Perhaps not a record-breaker (we’re still waiting for our annual report to be finalized), but good regardless. I’ve been busy up until the last week before we left. Which, I suppose, is why I’m feeling restless here in these tranquil, jungly environs. Believe me, that in itself is frustrating. I so want to embrace this relaxing experience. And I know if I do allow myself some time off, it’ll be beneficial on multiple levels. But since so much of my life and identity has been defined by my ability to generate a constant flow of output in a range of creative disciplines, I feel a little lost without having a clear mission or a solid project to take on and challenge myself with. So, yesterday, as at least something to do with myself, I set out to shoot some footage of our neighborhood – which resulted in the above 60-second film.

In all honesty, deep down, in my heart of hearts, I actually know what I need to do creatively to find my way back and on to a new set of tracks. But I’m putting it off. Why? Because I’m terrified of what may come of it. Or, worse, if nothing comes of it. Stay tuned…


The Lantern Lady

Met this gentle, soft spoken lady during the monthly full moon lantern festival here in Hoi An a couple of nights ago. She looked anciently tired and disappointed that all I wanted to do was take her picture and not buy one of the lanterns she was carrying on a tray.

Now and then the bright yellow moon revealed itself from behind a thin veil of clouds and lit up the riverbanks where locals swarmed around new arrivals, desperately trying to persuade them to climb into a boat or, at the very least, buy a lantern.

Once a centuries old “good-luck” tradition more akin to superstition than buddhism, today I’m not sure how much of a culturally rooted event the lantern festival actually is.

On the way back to our homestay, we saw shopkeepers burn trash outside their stores (for good luck, someone told us) , and heaps of feverishly excited tourists step into rickety riverboats to celebrate the occasion by floating colorful paper lanterns on the unusually busy Thu Bon River.

Watching a long row of thick smoke bellowing up from the burning trashcans and seeing hundreds of paper lanterns placed ever-so gently into the river – all the while a forest of selfie sticks swayed erattically back and forth on the overlooking bridge, made for an interesting scene, to say the least.


Culinary obsessions: Avocado

I think a lot about food. I always have. I guess you could even say I’m obsessed. And not just because I love to cook, either. Of all the kinds of food I’m obssessed with, avocados are definitely top tier. Not only do I love the shapes they come in, the earthy hues of green, brown and yellow are favorites on my palette. And then there’s the unique tenderness, aroma and taste of a ripe avocado. Unbeatable! So happy when I discovered that the fruit is now readily available at our local market here in Vietnam.

At one point in my life, I worked professionally as a short-order cook and absolutely loved the process of prepping and composing meals. Though often stressful, there’s so much imagination and inventiveness involved in kitchen work. I’ve always seen making food as yet another way to express myself creatively.

When we decided to switch from being omnivores to seafood eating herbivores about four years ago, I never experienced the transition as being particularly hard. There were/are some foods I miss, though; Nathan’s hot dogs, thick slices of Hungarian salami topped with Dijon on lightly toasted sourdough or rye bread, southern-fried chicken with dripping bbq sauce at the Venice branch of Baby Blues BBQ and the crispy, honey-glazed bacon you can order at any IHOP or Denny’s, to name a few.

In addition to being bad for the planet and farm animals, I figure I have already eaten more than a lion’s share of meats in my lifetime. And since really tasty vegetarian alternatives are on a rise, the challenge has been far from unsurmountable. Also, as someone with a mild case of rheumatic arthritis, what I eat today is unquestionably as important as practicing Yoga/Qigong, getting a good night’s sleep and reducing stress is.

Still, I have cravings…

I used to think our body knew what was good for us to a greater extent than our minds did – and definitely better than anything our tastebuds tried to trick us into believing we needed.

So with that in mind, I concluded that most cravings originated from our body covertly brainwashing us into thinking it demanded a specific type of food to help produce something really important, like, you know, a protein or vitamin crucial to improving our health or making necessary repairs. That theory was probably more relevant when my younger self’s metabolism was firing on all cylinders.

Nowadays, I find that the older I get, the more I get the jones for things that aren’t at all conducive to the lifestyle I am trying hard to live by – especially considering my aforementioned condition. In fact, the stuff I desire to indulge in today is likely the diametrical opposite of what my body needs; pizza, pasta, and other processed foods – none of which contain much nutrition and probably take more energy to break down and flush out than they leave behind. But if someone placed a family-sized pizza in front of me right now, I’d dig in right away and probably not stop until the last piece of crust was sent down my throat.

Character vs Temptation

Now that we’ve left Sweden and spent just over a full week in Asia, I can feel how the swelling around my waistline is slowly deflating. Here in Vietnam, there are few temptations to lure my weak character. Charlotte found a nearby deli the other day and that might be a go-to place when the surge for something deliciously detrimental becomes uncontrollable. But for now, we’re only eating healthy, local food with a big fruit plate in the mornings and then a light lunch, like avocado or some more fruit, after which we have an early veggie and tofu dinner with rice or noodles.

I’d say there’s about a 12-hour timespan between dinner and breakfast where we don’t eat anything – giving our bodies sufficient time to absorb whatever we’ve eaten last and above all, give our digestive system time to rest.

It seems logical that if we constantly stuff our faces and bellies with hard-to-digest food during the hours we’re awake, our digestive system and whole being will suffer from all the overtime.

Consequentially, if everything we eat is instead plant-based, i.e. easily digested and relatively simple to exploit nourishment from, our bodies will thank us by converting it into fuel and other stuff it needs to countermeasure bacterial infections, inflammations and an array of other bad shit that comes our way.


It’s All A Mixtape, Anyway

The combination of comfortable humidity (80%), balmy temperature (29C/84F) during an hour of intense Qigong + Yoga (YoQi) was a great way to start this Monday.

After practicing Yoga and Qigong for a couple of years now, I’ve come to see how the two complement each other wonderfully. These two ancient practices have so much in common! While Yoga is more physically demanding, Qigong teaches a higher level of focus on slower, controlled movements and breathing.

Both provide incredibly valuable insights into how even the seemingly simplest poses, movements and breathing exercises can both calm the mind and improve health.

It’s all a mixtape, anyway…

There is no way that folks from China and India didn’t ever cross paths and compare notes, exchange poses, remedies and integrate their experiences. There are just too many similarities between Chinese medicine and traditional Indian medicine to deny this. Both aim to promote health and enhance the quality of life with therapeutic strategies and holistic treatment based on the fundamental elements of life. As opposed to much of western medicine, both focus on the individual, not the symptoms.

While Yoga and Qigong are recognized as two totally different disciplines from two wildly different – yet bordering –  countries and cultures, I’ve found that both can be combined to add even more wealth and health to body and mind.


Our new home in An My Village in Vietnam

We moved into our new place today at An My Village, just outside of central Hoi An in Vietnam. It’s a brand new, light blue, three story house, adorned with beautiful tile designs and tasteful decorations, good quality furniture and what is arguably the most important fitting of them all, a really comfortable king size bed.

There’s a pool in the backyard and several interconnected rice paddies just beyond the property’s rear fence. Water buffaloes graze nearby and there’s a tiny outdoor restaurant next door to us. The house lies a mere 10 minute walk to a traditional Vietnamese market where we bought a bag full of fruit and veggies this afternoon after our beach excursion.

Speaking of which, it only took us about 15 minutes to ride our bikes (provided by the house owner) to An Bang Beach. We had lunch there at a place called Salt and ate fried rice with seafood and vegetables and kept cool from a breeze that swept up from the sea. So good to have left the hustle and bustle of the city.


Bridge Over Thu Bon River

Our view standing on one of the city’s beautiful bridges last night, overlooking the Thu Bon River, which gently flows between the islands that make up Hoi An. The scene reminded of Venice, Italy, sans the lifejackets.


Grilled Vertebrate

As a pescatarian, I’m not exactly certain if it would be okay or not to munch on the above grilled frogs (toads?) I saw in passing at a market here in Hoi An this afternoon. Perhaps it would even be within reason to stuff our bellies with turtle or tortoise meat, just as long as if the gentle creepers didn’t belong to the species’ endangered kind.

Apparently, there’s an ongoing debate about amphibians which, according to Merriam-Webster, is a “cold-blooded vertebrate”, just like fish. 
No plans to begin eating frogs or turtles just yet. But I’m going to give the whole pescetarianism some serious thought. Here in Vietnam, it’s not at all difficult to find healthy, vegetarian food and the fish we’ve had so far hasn’t been particularly noteworthy.


Hoi An, Vietnam

We’ve now arrived in Hoi An, Vietnam. We flew in from Bangkok to the coastal city of Da Nang, where, incidentally, the very first American combat troops landed almost 55 years ago – at the onset of the American War, as the Vietnamese call the conflict.

We had arranged to be picked up at the airport and driven to our homestay in Cam Nam, an island and part of Hoi An.

I’m writing this just a few hundred meters away from the UNESCO listed ancient town in Hoi An which we walked to shortly after unpacking our stuff and where we eventually found a riverside bodega that served crispy veggie springrolls.

Hoi An’s lies along the Thu Bon river and was once an important trading post and its ancient town dates back to the 15th century and consists of roughly 1100 wooden buildings of Chinese and Japanese architectural influence. Today, the old shophouses are where local businesses sell clothes, shoes, porcelain, and, of course, souvenirs. There’s a bunch of tailors, too.

The dilemma with towns and places that get World Heritage status is that they tend to become more popular than what their infrastructure can absorb. As gorgeous as all the old, colorful wooden shophouses are here, the intense traffic, consisting of an endless stream of bicycle rickshaws and low-octane fueled scooters, distracts from the area’s remarkable beauty. Not to mention recurring forests of selfie sticks being haphazardly waved around by visitors – mostly from Vietnam’s neighboring country up north.

Despite having penned and contributed photographs and video for several dozen destination guides and travel stories about similarly visit-worthy places, surprisingly, I’m still often taken aback by how many others I have to share my experiences with.

Am I a cat or a dog person? I don’t know. Probably both. At some point as a child, we had both a dog (Coco) and a cat (Cesar) and I remember vividly how the cat’s tail one day got stuck in the spokes of a slowly turning bicycle wheel and had to be amputated at a local veterinarian. This was while living on Alfred and Willoughby in West Hollywood back in the mid 1970s.

It’s been just over a month since I was last in Bangkok after my Qigong course up north in Chiang Mai. Always feels good to be back in Thailand where as soon as you’ve passed through the austere immigration officers, more or less everyone’s default facial expression is a gentle smile.

Our Thai Airways flight arrived early this morning at 5:00 am after what seemed to take considerably less than the scheduled 10.5 hours of flight time. Thankfully, there was very little turbulens.

In between our vegetarian meals and a slew of meaty podcasts, I saw a couple of special effects packed Marvel flicks. I also watched the excellent biopic “Hitchcock” with Sir Anthony Hopkins as the director extraordinaire and his understated wife Alma played with tremendous fervor by Dame Helen Mirren. The film takes place during pre-production and filming of Hitchcock’s classic horror film Psycho, which I will now have to re-watch. I don’t look at horror films as often as I used to. Just like much of today’s list music, to me, the horror genre’s appeal has metamorphosed into something pathetically clichéd – although there are a few notable exceptions.

After a relatively smooth immigration and bagage claim process, we booked a Grab to drive us into town (which took less than 30 minutes!) and our Aparthotel in the Sukhumvit area.

We’re here for a few days to hopefully rid ourselves of jetlag and acclimatize to the region’s humidity and temperature before heading even further east to Vietnam.

Surprisingly, it’s not that hot here right now. At least not when the sun is hidden by rain-heavy clouds hovering over the city. The temperature was a pleasant 25C earlier this afternoon as I strolled down Thong Lo (Soi 55) on my way to a barber and then a massage.

After my shave, I randomly picked a massage shop that looked acceptably reputable, payed for a 90 minute massage and walked up a steep flight of stairs to a small, air-conditioned room with a raised massage table and two flimsy white plastic clothes hangers hanging on the wall to the left. On the sheet clad massage table was a towel and a square plastic packet containing a pair of ridiculously tiny black nylon unisex underwear.

I must of fallen asleep a half dozen times during my session, waking abruptly up shortly after each from the sound of my own snoring and a quiet giggle from the women gently kneading my body. She was both a thorough and skillful therapist but didn’t speak more than a few words of English. So I couldn’t be bothered to even try to explain to her that I was severely jet-lagged. She looked a little like a sumo wrestler; round, sturdy and completely neckless. At some point in between dozing in and out of sleep, I wondered how many shops more or less like this one there can be in Bangkok. Must be in the hundreds, if not thousands.


Say No to Hyperbolic Hypocrisy

Went for a 14k walk yesterday in Downtown Bangkok. Got caught in the rain at one point, but it turned out to be just a drizzle. Saw the sign above and couldn’t resist.

I wonder what it’s going to take, politically, economically or catastrophically, for actual change to take place in regards to the planet’s health. I have serious doubts that saying no to plastic bags posted on a sign outside one of Asia’s largest department store chains will contribute to reversing the effects of us all warming up the planet. To me, that’s just PR savvy, hyperbolic hypocrisy. As Charlotte so poignantly pointed out earlier today, the sign should of read, “Say No To Plastic Products”. But that would of been eskewing the real issues and in essence meant financial harakiri.


Back in Bangkok

Back in Old Siam. I met this cat in the slums of Khlong Toei a few years ago. I don’t recall the exact circumstances, but I was likely there to photograph for the charity Hang on Hangers. In a totally different life, in the mid-1980s, I had a cat, a male Norwegian forest feline that I called Mr. Humphrey. I shared “Humph” with a woman that lived with me for a while and when that relationship eventually ended, she got custody of our kitty cat.

Am I a cat or a dog person? I don’t know. Probably both. At some point as a child, we had both a dog (Coco) and a cat (Cesar) and I remember vividly how the cat’s tail one day got stuck in the spokes of a slowly turning bicycle wheel and had to be amputated at a local veterinarian’s clinic. This was while living on Alfred and Willoughby in West Hollywood back in the mid-1970s.

It’s been just over a month since I was last in Bangkok after my Qigong course in Chiang Mai up in northern Thaialnd. Always feels good to be back where, as soon as you’ve passed through the austere immigration officers, more or less everyone’s default facial expression is a gentle smile.

Our Thai Airways flight arrived early this morning at 5:00 am after what felt considerably less than the announced 10.5 hours of flight time. Thankfully, there was very little turbulens. In between our vegetarian meals and a slew of meaty podcasts, I saw a couple of FX- packed Marvel flicks. I also watched the excellent biopic “Hitchcock” with Sir Anthony Hopkins as the director extraordinaire and his understated wife Alma played with tremendous fervor by Dame Helen Mirren. The film takes place during pre-production and filming of Hitchcock’s classic horror film Psycho, which I will now have to re-watch. I don’t watch horror films as often as I used to. Just like much of today’s list music, to me, the horror genre’s appeal has metamorphosed into something pathetically clichéd – although there are a few notable exceptions.

After a relatively smooth immigration and bagage claim process, we booked a Grab to drive us into town (which took less than 30 minutes!) and our Aparthotel in the Sukhumvit area.

We’re here for a few days to hopefully rid ourselves of jetlag and acclimatize to the region’s humidity and temperature before heading even further east to Vietnam. Surprisingly, it’s not that hot here right now. At least not when the sun is hidden by rain-heavy clouds hovering over the city. The temperature was a pleasant 25C earlier this afternoon as I strolled down Thong Lo (Soi 55) on my way to a barber and then a massage.

After my shave, I randomly picked a massage shop that looked acceptably reputable, payed for a 90 minute massage and walked up a steep flight of stairs to a small, air-conditioned room with a raised massage table and two flimsy white plastic clothes hangers hanging on the wall to the left. On the sheet clad massage table was a towel and a square plastic packet containing a pair of ridiculously tiny black nylon unisex underwear.

I must have fallen asleep a half dozen times during my session, waking abruptly up shortly after each from the sound of my own snoring and a quiet giggle from the women gently kneading my body. She was both a thorough and skillful therapist but didn’t speak more than a few words of English. So I couldn’t be bothered to even try to explain to her that I was severely jet-lagged. She looked a little like a sumo wrestler; round, sturdy and completely neckless. At some point in between dozing in and out of sleep, I wondered how many shops more or less like this one there can be in Bangkok. Must be in the hundreds, if not thousands. A more important question is whether or not all cats in Thailand are siamese.


Windless at the Waterfall

Shot this scene last night in Västra Hamnen, just a few hundred yards from where we live in Malmö. I was actually out and about photographing the exterior of Kockum Fritid’s relatively new entrance. I didn’t see it at the time, so capturing the gentle whirlpool, created by the tiny waterfall, was a result of a 30 second exposure time and almost windless weather. More images from Västra Hamenn can be viewed here.


Climate at The United Nations (seen from the doghouse)

Here’s a shot from a climate signing conference I produced visuals for at the United Nations headquarters in New York a few years back. The Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, Germany’s Angela Merkel and several hundred dignitaries attended. Even the queen of Sweden was there, albeit for a reason unbeknownst to me. She looked supportive and smiley, which I suppose are qualifying enough virtues.

As interesting as that gig was, I wonder how much positive impact the climate agreement actually has had on the planet. I mean, there’s been a ton of scientific evidence and alarming reports since, most of which point to a substantial escalation in “natural” catastrophes and what might turn out to be irreversible global warming.

Of course, there are many that don’t believe or choose not to believe the Earth is actually in dire straits. So to them, this is all part of a huge conspiratorial hoax. A witch hunt. It’s fake news.

Have I mentioned that I’m in the doghouse? Well, I am. It’s not Charlotte or even Elle that have put me there (this time). It’s a different family member. Someone I feel is a bit lost in our tumultuous cultural landscape. A landscape increasingly dominated by political polarization and fueled by more or less discernible agendas. And when counter-arguments that unapologetically prompt us to continue with our degenerative lifestyles are broadcasted prolifically and unilaterally, it’s easy to see how such narratives become adopted wholeheartedly. Very convenient, indeed. Why challenge convention when it’s so much easier to choose that which reinforces our sedimented opinions?

Speaking of global warming. That fact that such a huge swath of people in the US and around the world seem to just ignore the reports, warnings and prognosis, acting as if there’s absolutley nothing to worry about, well, that kinda reminds me of when Leslie Nielsen in the Naked Gun yelled “nothing to see here, please disperse” at a curious crowd that had gathered to watch the calamity from a fireworks warehouse – after it had been rammed by a ballistic missile. What could possibly go wrong?

The biggest challenge in our current climate conundrum is that we all seem to feel as if we’re somehow genetically entitled to continue enjoying the life we’re currently living. And for some, the very thought of anyone questioning anything about their choices, let alone analyze or make suggestions that would demand change, is seen as, well, preposterous and judgemental. Which is quintessentially why I’m in the doghouse. I did just that, I had the audacity to question a lifestyle choice and then ridicule a cockamamie theory that was used as an argument to back it up.

I suppose we’re all in the doghouse. We just don’t see it. The view from inside the doghouse is still pretty good. But seriously, I think we’re all in a state of intellectual coma. We’ve become so comfortably numb and caught in our intricate web of entitlements where we take everything for granted and expect a perpetual continuum, we’re incapable of even theorizing upon what needs to be done. Let alone take necessary practical action to slow down and possibly (hopefully) reverse the path on which we’ve put our planet on.


Thin Ice Assignment

Here’s what I’m currently working on in Final Cut Pro; a collage of figure skaters and just one of two dozen short and tightly edited action videos, each representing one of all the activities available at Kockum Fritid here in Malmö. The collection of videos will be viewable on their website, social channels and on the huge screens located throughout the sports center.


The Tsukiji Market (築地市場)

This is from one of my visits to what was the Tsukiji Market – according to Wikipedia, the largest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. Tsukiji opened on 11 February 1935 as a replacement for an older market that was destroyed in the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake. It closed on 6 October 2018 and moved to the new Toyosu Market, 2.4km away – which I hope to be able to visit for the very first time sometime this fall.

A few years ago, I spent an early morning at the Fulton Fish Market at Hunt’s Point in the Bronx. While not nearly as gritty as when it was located adjacent to the East River on Manhattan and not even 10% as big as Tsukiji in Tokyo, I was still stoked by the size and all the activity. Despite it being 4:30 am, I was far from alone there. Two or three dozen local buyers and fishmongers scuttling about with this really thick smell of fish and seafood hovering a few feet off the wet concrete floor. Upon returning to our Lower East Side hotel, Charlotte immediately ordered me to put  my jeans (that I’d worn during the morning’s shoot) in tightly tied plastic bag.

More of my photographs from visits to Tokyo here.


At Kockum Fritid

Seem to be in a strange sleep cycle where I wake up every second day at 5:00 am. On my “off” day, I’ll sleep in until 07:00 am and not feel the least bit guilty about it.

Today was one of the early mornings and I strolled over to Kockum Fritid and put in a good 90 minute workout with both weights and Qigong to get me flowin’ and ready for the day. Took the two last pieces of sliced bread and made tasty avocado toast with some paprika, chopped leek and few strips of cabbage to add some crunch.

Currently working on a prodigious collection of photos and footage shot at Kockum Fritid, arguably Malmö’s premier sports center which was originally built for the laborers that worked at Kockum Industries, the shipyard and related workshops located just a few hundred yards away. As that era came to an end, the center’s doors opened to the public – which I walked through for the very first time roughly 20 years ago.

I reckon I’ve photographed and filmed activities at Kockum Fritid for about a decade now and have always had a really great relationship with the folks that work there – both as a member and as a supplier of visual goods. Over the years, I’ve also hired a few dozen amateur models to help showcase all the different activities at the center. The two above, Kalle and Lillemor, are the most recent and together, we had a really enjoyable shoot in the gym..


From Malmö Upside Down

I was zonked last night and fell asleep at 10:00 pm. Woke up reseted and ready for the day already at 4:00 am this morning. Before I walked over to our local gym, I added a slideshow gallery with all of my images from the ongoing show, Malmö Upside Down. You can view it right here.


Malmö Upside Down

Here’s a short animation I made to visualize to visitors from afar where my photo exhibit Malmö Upside Down will be. Officially, the show starts tomorrow. There will be a pre-show showing this afternoon between 3:00pm and 5:00pm. If you’re in the vicinity, welcome by.


I’ve lived in Malmö since 1997, three years before our daughter Elle was born. Initially, Charlotte and I moved here from Göteborg without thinking much of how long we’d end up staying. A year? Two, maybe?

While Charlotte had a full plate in her new position as Internet Business Manager at Malmö Aviation’s head office, I was working long hours at Broberg & Co, an ad agency that primarily created marketing campaigns for retail clients like Nestlé. The years before Elle arrived, we lived large and traveled wide, never even considering a move back to Göteborg or anywhere else, for that matter. Life in Malmö was good and we thrived, eventually transitioning into a comfortable, urban family lifestyle in an old, somewhat gritty city with an unusually bright future.

We found that living so close to Kastrup International Airport, just outside of Copenhagen, was a huge practical benefit that allowed us to continue feeding our travel addiction without much fuss. Elle learned early on to make new friends during our many trips and had stamps in her passport from four different continents even before her third birthday.

Meanwhile, the powers that be were forcefully upgrading, restoring and reinventing Malmö. By the end of the first year of the new millennium, several enormous infrastructure projects were in various phases of completion, including an underground subway network, the Öresund bridge between Sweden and Denmark and the construction of a whole new, seaside neighborhood on the westside of the city, aptly named Västra Hamnen, the western harbor. We’ve lived in Västra Hamnen for 17 of the 22 years that Malmö has been our home, albeit in almost a half dozen different dwellings. But if you include the times we’ve relocated abroad, it’s more like 14 years.

The summer is slowly metamorphosing into autumn and it’s soon time for yet another adventure to begin. This time, far, far away from the view above which I shot the other evening. Admittedly, I have a bit of separation angst, as one tends to feel when it’s time to leave the comfort zone and head full speed towards the unknown. But it’s certainly no worse than usual. See, of all the places I’ve ever lived, L.A., Göteborg, Riksgränsen, Visby, Koh Samui, Bangkok, Palma de Mallorca and Malmö, I have always maintained fond memories of each – and tend to return time and time again. I’m not throwing away the book, just slowly closing a chapter.


Malmö Gallery Night

Today I received the above poster (which I’ve modified a tad) for 2019 Malmö Gallery Night – which together with other local artists – I’ve been invited by Malmö’s Art and Culture Association, MKK to exhibit my work at. The annual event takes place at galleries and museums all over town on September 28-29 2019 with partaking venues open 6:00pm to 12:00am on the 28th.

Here’ a link to a downloadable map for the event and a link to the dedicated iOS app.


Bus Stop Fame

Yesterday, on our way to Höllviken for a causal dinner with friends at their new gorgeous house, I noticed a photo of Turning Torso that seemed familiar. I knew I wasn’t the only one to have captured the building during the Eurovision Song Contest final in Malmö 2013. I’ve always assumed that there were other photographers that didn’t appreciate the musical spectacle and instead of sitting glued in front of the tube, were like me out documenting the colorful spotlights projected onto the facade of Santiago Calatrava’s magnificant skyscraper.

But once I looked closer, I was reasonably sure the image was one of mine. I remember having sold a series of photographs from that evening in May to a few different companies and at least one department at our local municipality, Malmö stad. But I’m not clear who’s behind the info spot thing that we saw last night. Regardless, I’m glad whoever it was credited me properly. Interesting how a six year old photo finally provided me with bus stop fame… More photos of Turning Torso – including the one above in a full, uncut version – can be viewed here.


Boardwalk Doggies

For a photographer living so close to an immensely popular boardwalk like Sundspromenaden has its advantages. There’s always something going on, literally all year round.

Mostly, it’s the scenic view of the sea and Öresund Bridge surrounded by unusually beautiful cloud formations – or a phenomenally colorful sunset, that grabs my attention. But every once in a while there’ll be visitors that demand to be documented. Like these Icelandic dogs from last night’s walk. More of my favorite dogs can be view here.


Heading For Another Freeze?

I saw this on a screen at an ATM recently. I am completely clueless as to what all those acronyms or code represent. But the System Freeze headline certainly grabbed my attention and demanded to be photographed.

I doubt the ATM’s inner workings had suffered a sudden drop in temperature. Instead, the money machine’s operating system (Windows NT or some other dysfunctional Microsoft product?) had broken and needed a reboot.

I recently watched this documentary about the housing and financial crisis of 2008 and how the US economy just about froze and spiraled completely out of control into what looked like an inveitable financial abyss.

A quick glance at the current astonishingly positive employment statistics potrays the US economy as stronger than ever. But there are a few issues not spoken about that worry me. Stuff that might not immediately cause a financial crisis like the most recent one, but still disconcerting since they don’t seem to be a conscious part of the Trump administration’s sprawling agenda.

• The government’s ginormous deficit has never been bigger and absolutely nothing is being done to reduce it. Raising debt ceiling is not a remedy. It’s a symptom of apathy.

• Nobody will argue that the country’s infrastructure is crumbling and desperately needs to be upgraded. A friend recently took a road trip from New Orleans to Los Anglees and was appalled by how poor the roads were during much of the ride. Lead leaking into ancient water pipes in Flynt and Newark are just two of the most publisized catastrophes where entire cities drinking water has been poisoned, in no small way due to unbelievable ignorance and negligence.

• Despite unemployment being record low, more than 8 million Americans still can’t (not even by a long shot) support themselves financially with a full-time job. Minimum wage is still way below what most folks need to survive. In Sweden, it’s $13.56/hour as compared with in the US where it’s $7.25/hour. That’s a friggin’ ridiculous difference. And if they can’t make ends meet when they’re healthy, what happens when they get sick?


Three Things About Me

Here’s a 3 things I thought of in the shower this morning after my workout. Completely random stuff.

1. This is probably more information than you bargained for when you visited my site today, but for some odd reason, I feel compelled to share that when I’m at home alone, I often strut around completely naked. I’ve been doing this ever since moving to my very first apartment, 38 years ago. Though some may deem this a bad habit, I feel incredibly comfortable when I’m undraped and quite frankly, I don’t give a damn should anyone happen to see me through our large living room windows. But to be clear, I’m not walking around in the birthday suit just to exhibit myself.

2. If it’s too early to run our powerful but extremely noisy smoothie blender – and only if we have the right alternatives at home – I’ll make crunchy peanut butter and banana toast for breakfast. I’ve not tried it yet, but I can totally see how a couple of thick slices of kosher pickle would work beautifully in such a sandwich.

3. Part of my longterm health goal is to become entirely independent of all training facilities and equipment. I believe I will accomplish this by practicing Yoga, Qigong and by walking and hiking (and possibly even jogging).

Charlotte shot the above photo yesterday evening.


Once Upon A Time in Hollywood

Here’s a view of the film company Universal’s soundstages and prop warehouses just north of the famous Hollywood sign and close to the San Fernando valley. I shot it while strapped in a harness and hanging outside of a really small and jerky helicopter. The front passenger door had been removed upon my request – so that I could get a really spectacular view during the 90 minute flight over Los Angeles.

Last night, a friend and I saw Quentin Tarantino’s latest and ninth film, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood. I had several reasons to want to see it. Firstly, it’s a film about an era when I was a kid. However changed or different L.A. is today, a “story” based on a time when I at least physically was there (I was 6 years old in 1969), and that at least partially played out in the vicinity of my neighbourhood, was simply too irresistible to forgo. Secondly, fellow Angelino Tarantino’s star-studded cast was a huge draw with Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Al Pacino, Timothy Olyphant, Michael Madsen, Lena Dunham, and Kurt Russell as marquee headliners.

So, how was it? Well, once the lights were turned back on after two hours and forty-two minutes, my buddy spontaneously exclaimed, “What the fuck was that?”. I couldn’t agree more. Had we witnessed a meandering masterpiece or am I just not culturally cultivated enough to fully grasp the genius of this plotless orgy of beautiful people wearing beautiful clothes and riding in beautiful cars in beautiful, sunny Southern California? I think I need to see this film again to be able to answer that question fair and square.

When I got back home from the the movie theatre Royal (best place to watch any movie in Malmö), I checked how the film had done on IMDB.com (8.1/10) and read in the Trivia section that Once Upon A Time in Hollywood had received a 7 minute long standing ovation at the premiere in Cannes in the spring. Go figure.

More images from my hometown can be enjoyed right here.


Industrial Art
Today I’ve been working on two wildly different projects. Not that that’s unusual. I often juggle 3-4 commercial or self-imposed assignments during the course of any given day. It’s more of a bad habit than something I’m proud of. My attention span is often in wide-angle mode.
This afternoon, I’ve been editing video footage which will evenutally become dozens of 10-15 second “shorties” for a client’s social media channels. Much of this morning I spent creating new pieces for the Gallerinatten/Gallery Night exhibit at the end of next month. While both of today’s projects have been challenging, I’ll admit that creating completely new art pieces from scratch is definitely the more mentally demanding.
I’m one of several other artists that have been invited to participate in this year’s collective, city-wide, nightly exhibit. I’ve been visually fascinated and inspired by Malmö’s industrial epoch for a long time. So, while my other exhibit is focused on contemporary places in Malmö, for the aforementioned Gallery Night show, I’ll be exhbiting six large-format and two smaller pieces themed on the city’s recent industrial era.
In the fall of 2017, I was invited to document several of Kockum Industries abandoned and destined to be demolished giant assembly halls and workshops. So I have a plethora of both wide and detail photographs at my disposal. As often is the case, I have too many ideas and not enough time or exhibit space to showcase them all. Which means that I’m spending a lot of time selecting and ranking my work to finally have candidates I feel aptly represent the theme.
The image above didn’t make into my top-ten-list. But I like it nonetheless.

Unlocking Dreams

It was raining when I left home to go to the studio this morning. The weather’s been sunny and warm since I returned from Asia on Monday. Some say maybe a bit too hot, even. So the temperature drop that came with the rain was probably welcome.

I dreamt a lot last night. At least two different dreams with lively conversations in both. I can’t remember what was said, only that they took place outdoors in an urban environment, somewhere in the world.

It’s really strange how when you fall asleep, the body goes to work autonomously on repairs while – for whatever reason – the mind is like a mad scientist, creating vivid, weird dreams without any realtime consent or prior agreements. Unlocking the door to our own little dream factory would certainly be something.

What if you were able to simulate forthcoming scenarios? Project and play out different outcomes in your mind, analyze each and then when you woke up, base a decisive decision on the simulation that had the best possible outcome. Now that would be a powerful tool to harness. But what if the mind is already doing exactly that – and we’re just not aware of it?

I’ve passed, possibly even shot this door before. It’s somewhere on Silom Road in Bangkok, not far from the Hindu neighborhood I stayed at last year by the popular Mariamman Temple.


Cheating Jetlag?

I’m possibly over-optimistic, wouldn’t be the first time, but I might just have managed to have cheated the usual jet lag issues from my flight out of Asia. Even though I took a long nap yesterday afternoon, I still enjoyed a full night’s sleep. I can’t point to a strategy to evade fatigue from crossing multiple time zones. At least not one that has ever worked consistently. But I did wake up crisp and clear at 05:00 am this morning. Began the day by practicing my newly acquired Qigong poses and moves for about 45 minutes before waking Charlotte up so we could go for a swim in the considerably cooled off – but not yet bone-chilling cold – Öresund Strait. Man, have I been wanting to do that for almost a month. I’ve also been craving egg and avocado toast for a couple of weeks, so I took care of that urge today as well.

So, what else is up?

Well, I’ve got a ton of footage from filmning just about every imaginable sports activity at Kockum Fritid – which I will be editing during the next couple of days. I’ve also got two forthcoming exhibits to prepare for and promote and I also need to start packing away stuff in the studio before the lease is up at the end of the month. September will be a busy month.


Chinese Cemetery on the Move

I met and had a brief chat with a biking Bangkokian earlier today as I was just about to enter an old Chinese cemetery below the towering Mahanakhon building in the Saladeng/Bang Rak area. The friendly chap worked as a sales and marketing rep at the Bangkok office for Holiday Inn’s waterpark resort in Hua Hin, a few hours south of the capital.

With it’s overgrown crypts,looming gargoyles and mini-mausoleums, the overgrown cemetery was kinda spooky, even in broad daylight.

According to my cycling acquaintance, the cemetery used to cover a much larger area and that what ever is left of it now, will likely be relocated to a patch of land near Pattaya to make way for more property development in the area.

With that in mind, I ended up spending an hour documenting the grounds as much as I could (much of it is semi-sunk in an urban swampland. 

I wonder how the kinsman of the Thai-Chinese buried their feel about the move. Maybe they’ll be compensated somehow by whoever’s going to be placing what will inevitably be another skyscraper there.