A Day of All Weathers – On the Road To Ras Al Khaimah

Reflections of rain, recollections of haze,
Endless desert that never will seize to amaze,
Now it’s sun,
Now it’s storm,
Now it’s rain,
Now it’s warm,
Now it’s a camel that got wrecked by the careless

On the side of the road,

Rest in peace, jamal, God

Will take care of you, 

Now and Forever.

Passing by

I will nod

say goodbye, thanks a lot…

But that’s life and that’s one and the only we’ve got.

Take my palms for a ride,

Nissan “Batrol” on it’s side,

Roundabout occupied

By the people with whom you don’t wish to collide –

No use hurting their pride,

Which they have in their pockets aplenty

Though they barely reached the age twenty.

Now your car’s full of sand

Proper fit for this land,

Please enjoy short-lived status of freedom.

And forget all your plans, 

Take this rare-case of chance

And embrace nature-made cloudseeing.

Much love,

Anna

No excuses.

Clouds are running wrapping
Around Burj Khalifa today,
Minutes away from the rain,
Making reflections again
With the million of lights,
Seize the night,
And let’s go for a ride,
Wait for the green light
Getting close to perfection,
Catch the right intersection
And let go of your fears,
Change that gear,
Now it’s you and the road –
Happiness mode,
Heart about to explode,
So be bold.
Only memories matter
The day we grow old.
So it’s now or it’s never,
And it better be now.
Cause today’s gone forever.
Simple and clever.
That’s how it is,
It’s a hit or a miss.
Just please,
Don’t be making excuses,
Cause when you do,
Everyone loses.

Crossing the Bridge to Tolerance.

2019 is a year of Tolerance in the UAE.

It is a wonderful initiative started by our government in order to bring us closer together, in the end we are more than 200 nationalities living in this country.

Today I happened to pass by the Tolerance bridge, a beautiful construction that holds Dubai together because a few years back a new canal appeared within the city… so I sat under the bridge waiting for the sunset, and wrote a few lines thinking about tolerance, UAE, and all of us.


Tolerance bridge, what are you tolerating?
Fisherman sneakily stands by your side, 
Cranes move around new construction creating,
Labourer sleeps in the shade you provide.

Me, I’m just waiting for sunset to happen,
So that I have a new picture to post.
Why does canal feel like a gap in the planning? 
Dubai, are you winning with it or at loss? 

Tolerance bridge, please be kind and don’t judge us
For racism, profiling, for snobbing and lust. 
Hug all the residents that live in Dubai,
And make us all equal – be fair and be just.

Much love,

Anna

Partying with the locals in Da Nang, Viet Nam.

Before going to Vietnam, I didn’t know anything about Danang. In fact it is a coastal city in central Vietnam known for its sandy beaches and history as a French colonial port, but for us, it was the party side of it that swept us away. 

The area where we stayed was right next to the beach, which was long and deserted in a beautiful way.

There was also a lot of construction going on, seems like Danang is building up and modernising. It looks stunning at night, especially from a hotel with a pool on 40th floor :p.

Danang at night

Unfortunately the sunsets I have seen in Vietnam were not very inspiring, but the blue hour was beautiful nevertheless.

Local Eateries

With the sun down, it was time to go look for a place to have dinner at. We walked around a few streets, peeking into small restaurants with the tiniest chairs in history of chairs, when we heard music playing loudly out of one place sized a little bigger than a general garage in someone’s house. There was a sign above the table saying “happy wedding”, however we didn’t spot any wedding dressed people, nor for that sake any girls at all. It was a party of 20 lads, who were high up in their beer consumption and jolly for the fact that Vietnam apparently won a qualifying game against Bahrain in Asian Football Cup. It just took a moment for us to exchange smiles with the vietnamese guys, and we were immediately invited to join the celebrations and given a beer each…. Most of those people weren’t able to say a word in English, but it didn’t stop us from having a time of our life dancing to the old classics like “One Way Ticket” and “You My Heart, You My Soul”… 

The shirtless fellow apparently was a Vietnam war veteran (as actually most of the older people are)… and he challenged our friend Paul to a competition of push ups. The guy must be like 65, but look how ripped he is! Also, notice how in this part of Vietnam they have a tradition just throwing finished cans on the floor, along with the food that they don’t plan to eat any more.

Obviously, it was a friendly competition, and I laughed, and took pictures, and laughed some more.

It was hard to leave this party, but it was time for us to go and actually try to have some food… and now the song One Way Ticket will always remind me of that surreal experience. How incredibly friendly of these guys to invite us to their celebration, how much fun we all had?! 

Later on that night, we went to a local club that also played some songs that I was dancing to in 2005 rather than what you hear on the radio today, but we also got invited by some locals to their table and had a fantastic night. Danang was so much more open to receive us without asking anything in return than Saigon, it was like a different world. 

Bridges in Danang – Shot on Huawei P20 Pro.

It also has the most fantastic and beautiful bridges including the dragon bridge and the one with the hands, that I unfortunately couldn’t take photos of. So if you’re planning a trip to Vietnam I definitely recommend staying in this place for at least a couple of days. 

Thank you for reliving this day with me!

Much love,

Anna

Vietnam part 2: Mui Ne, Train Adventure, Why do We Play Flip Cup?

Hello everyone,

Part two of Vietnamese adventures follows. After we had enough of Saigon, it was time for us to go explore more of Vietnam goodness. As we had absolutely no plans or reservations, we decided to join a few guys that my husband met online. They were having a good time on the beach of Mui Ne, so this became our next destination. Living in a relatively small country, we were forgetting again that Vietnam can’t be crossed in one day and even going to this beach destination would take us a few hours. Precisely from 5 to 7 by bus, as the bus company announced. Nothing is too sure in terms of timing in this country.We decided to splash and buy the “comfortable” version of the bus, that had beds instead of seats.Ilford HP5_Vietnam (35).jpg

I can’t say that this was more comfortable option, but what is important that we made it in one piece to our destination.

Mui Ne is as it turns out quite a popular destination for backpackers.A few individuals of that type were getting quite hyped at the end of the bus, shouting at every sign of a new urban dwelling “Mui Ne?!” until the bus driver got mad and started shouting NO NO NO NO NO. I can’t say that he was a very well-tempered man before they started annoying him either. He had a habit of overtaking large chunks of traffic at the traffic light, and one time got overexcited and got the side mirror smashed by a truck. Whoa, bit scary.

So we are finally in Mui Ne, it is raining and the bus just left us somewhere sort of in the vicinity of the hostel we were staying. Thankfully, we had the sim card and could find the location easily. It was just up the hill. And when you think that it is already quite up the hill, there was some more up the hill. Checked in, read the rules and regulations, that mentioned absolutely no sea food in the room or you will be punished financially by paying 1 million dongs. As harsh as it sounds, 1 million dongs is not such a big amount of money. And there was no cooking appliances, so I am not sure how one can even cook sea food. Anyhow, we refrained from doing that.

Found our new friends at the bar, they have had consumed a few buckets of alcoholic beverages and were ready to take part in all the numerous entertainment opportunities provided by the establishment, namely playing flip cup (the motto of this game is “why do we play flip cup? to get fucked up”), the ever popular beer pong and a few others. We preferred to be on the observing part that night, and I clicked pretty of crazy photos of that night which should not be shown to any of the mentioned personas’ mothers.

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The next day we woke up kind of early. It is pretty hard to sleep in Vietnam anyway, because Vietnamese for some reason get up super early, and start actively build stuff and hammer stuff at 6 am, they also need to call everyone and talk loudly. By 9 am all these kind of activities slow down. Anyway, we took a pretty decent breakfast in the hostel for 2 dollars. The coffee in Vietnam is dope. It is very tasty and quite strong. Just the way I like.

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After breakfast we went to explore the beach which was quite much deserted and we enjoyed a fantastic beach by ourselves. Also at the same time the sun was enjoying roasting us, so we all got a premium sunburn in just a few hours despite applying the cream to our white skins.

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In the afternoon, the boys were somehow involved in pillow fight competition. Not just a pillow fight, but on a metal pipe over a swimming pool with wet pillows.That was a sight to behold. The guy who won the epic battle was doing detox that month so the beer tower he won, he decided to share with us. Good questionis why did he take part in this competition at all. His name is Nick and he is a 19 years old backpacker from Germany.

Ilford Delta 100_Vietnam (13)The guys that we made friends with were from Germany too, but they didn’t much like Nick. I had a good time talking to him. He was travelling at that time with Pete, who is a British guy changing jobs every couple of years and taking backpacking trips in between. They both had so many great stories to tell, we spent as much time talking as we could. One good thing about hostels is finding interesting people. When you stay at a fancy hotel,  everyone is on their own. Backpackers are much more open community, and usually it doesn’t take long to befriend somebody.

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So after spending two nights in Mui Ne, it was time to move somewhere else. We bought tickets on a night train to go to a place called Danang. 14 hours in a train.

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For an average Russian this doesn’t sound like a lot of time in a train, but ze germans and zi french were impressed. The train really reminds a lot a Russian train, but everything is made for smaller people and instead of 2 sleeping rows of shelves, there are 3.

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We were like the only people of European origins in this train and the Vietnamese were looking with suspicion at us. At 6 AM everyone got up, started calling other people on the phone… there was even a chicken in the train, I didn’t see it but I heard it. 14 hours were feeling quite long… but eventually we made it to Danang. The beautiful city of Danang with its Dragon Bridge and the Marble Mountain. That is however a story for the next time.

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Much love,
Anna

Hustle and Bustle of Saigon, Vietnam.

This year hasn’t been filled with travels yet, so we decided to change that and booked tickets to go to Vietnam for a week. There was no plan and no list of things to do, for the first time we decided to take it as it goes and just hopped on a plane with the whole country in mind but nothing in particular.

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Firstly, our plane was delayed 4 hours, which made our arrival pretty much “arrive to the hotel and go to sleep” but there definitely are worse things in life.

We decided to pack light and take only backpacks, therefore I decided to take only my Fuji X100T and a film camera PentaxK1000. I took a tripod as well just in case, but the opportunity to use it didn’t really present itself. I knew, that we are not going there to do my favourite type of photography – landscapes and city scapes, but rather to do a bit of streets and perhaps a few portraits.

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One good advise that you can easily find on the Internet but still we managed to fall into the trap – count your money always! The exchange office of the airport managed to forget to give us a few thousand dongs, which is really easy and confusing because there are a lot of thousands and millions that fall into your hands and it feels very overwhelming. Then, don’t take the taxi unless it is the official Vinasun or Mailinh, install Grab application and always use that one. We were naive white people to take a taxi suggested by the guy at the taxi stand of the airport and paid 6 times more than we should have.

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It is somewhat annoying that in the South the Vietnamese people will try to rip you off with every chance they have, but for them we are white people with cash… as soon as they hear you speaking English, they will do anything to get your money out of you. It’s not much money most of the time, but still kinda spoils your mood.

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So after arriving and taking a good bunch of sleep, we went to explore the streets of Saigon//Ho Chi Minh City. It’s a pretty loud and always buzzing place with tons of people everywhere all the time. When we got out of the hotel, the weather was somewhat nice and sunny.

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Instead of breakfast, we decided to plug into the culture right away, and a had a big tasty Pho for a meal… when it started raining. It was raining, and rainng lots.

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We found a refuge in the botanical garden and spent 3 hours looking at streams of water pouring down, running around rats and soaking Vietnamese people on their bikes.

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Eventually we got tired of waiting for the rain to stop and decided to go spend the next hour in the War Museum. The museum should rather be called “Shame On You Americans” museum, as it is portraying everything in that way. A lot of interesting and horrible photographs and war pieces to see… a lot of lives lost in vain like in every war.

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I saw this passport photo of someone outside of the war museum on the grass… wearing a pajama with “I love you” writings on it… really wonder what is the story of this photo.

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On the famous bar street of District one, you will find a lot of dirty places full of questionable entertainments that we didn’t partake. Decided to just walk around and choose somewhere to rest our restless bums, we chose a restaurant poorly. The waiters kept telling us that what we want on the menu is not available, but then we kept seeing other people having it… the question remains – if they didn’t want us there, why did they let us in in the first place?

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It is curious to see that Vietnamese people for real wearing the famous hats, and tourists buy them in bulk as well (probably to be never worn again). But they seem quite useful against the rain and the sun, and look very nice as well. Definitely add a lot to the snaps for all the tireless street photographers.

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Crossing the streets in Vietnam is an interesting sport. Nobody ever stops, even when the light is red so you have to manoeuvre around the traffic, trying to get to the other side of the road. It feels very intimidating at first, but you kind of get a hang of it in a few days. The busses and trucks seem to never stop at the intersections and instead of even checking the surroundings, they beep. Everybody actually beeps. All the time. And you get used to this after a while. The rule of crossing the road in Vietnam seems to be – do not try to cross in front of cars and bigger vehicles, and just confidently walk when the bikes are there, they will go around you.

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That seemed to have worked just all right for us.

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Saigon can get pretty tiring after a few days of being there, so we booked two tickets on the sleeping bus to take us to the beach side of the country. The next stop is Mui Ne.

But that is a story for another day.

Much love,

Anna_DSF8301

What Happens if You Develop Colour Film as Black and White?

Hello there,

I just came back from my holidays to the land of ice and fire (yes, again), yes, I know. In addition to shooting my traditional long exposures with the beloved Fujifilm XT-2, I brought a film camera with me, and shot a bunch of images on film. Just because I love how the memories look on film, and it is always fun to shoot with my friendly snappy Pentax.

Meanwhite, my husband got inspired by my film experiments and got himself a second-hand Olympus M-10. He seems to be particularly enjoying shooting in black and white, which we then carefully (or not so) develop at home. So, when we got to Iceland, he still had half a roll of Kodak TriX400 black and white film left in his camera. Snapping left and right, it didn’t take him long to finish it on his first day there. As we returned home, we decided to develop this roll to see some photos from our holidays to feed our holiday blues.

So we did the whole shabang of opening the canister of the film in the black bag, rolling it on a spool, putting it in the development tank and pouring a crapload of chemicals on it, washing it with water, unrolling and hanging it in the bathroom only to realize… hey, the emulsion colour is supposed to be gray, not orange… and hey, these are not the pictures that my husband took.

Turn out that I accidentally took the roll of Kodak Portra 160 from the shelf instead of Kodak Trix400… and now my beautifully (supposedly) coloured film turned into a black and white one, and oh, joy, we have to start from scratch, because the actual black and white roll was still undeveloped.

I didn’t think that you can actually develop colour film in the same chemicals as black and white, but I must say that the pictures turned out beautiful. Better than I ever had on any actual black and white films.

But I let you be my judge. Shot on PentaxK1000 with the expectations to be Kodak Portra 160… but well, better black and white than no photos at all.

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Exploring West Fjords.

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Fascinated by the Super Powerful Waves.

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Always Love a Good Rearview Mirror Reflection.

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What is Iceland without Ice?

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Tried to Do a Bit of Long Exposure (You Can See A Flying By Seagull on the Cliffs).

Thanks for having a look and feel free to ask any questions, if something crosses your mind.

Ciao,
Anna