Nov 28, 2012

Passports with Purpose: Help Build Wells in Haiti

Passports with Purpose, the travel blogging community’s annual online fundraiser now in its fifth year, is underway. This year PwP has partnered with The goal is to raise $100,000 to build five wells in two communities in Haiti.

Last year PwP partnered with Room to Read and raised more than $89,000 to build libraries in Zambia.

Here is how you can participate: Each blogger has secured a prize for a raffle. I’m donating a $100 gift certificate to B&H Photo, which I will send anywhere in the U.S.A For each $10 donated, you can be entered to win a prize of your choice. The deadline to enter is December 11th. Winners will be announced December 17th.

Check out Passports with Purpose to participate, for more details and a full list of prizes.

You can also find PwP on Twitter @PassportPurpose and Facebook.

Nov 21, 2012

Traffic Vietnamese Style

One of Ho Chi Minh City’s or Saigon’s most dazzling sites is the street traffic. There is something exhilarating about watching the city whiz by and soaking in its frenetic energy. Think people watching on fast forward with a turbo boost.

It’s not unusual to see a family of four with a toddler sleeping next to Mom or Dad on a motorbike in the midst of the chaos, a novelty for those of us who come from the land of SUVs and mandated car seats for children.

The motorized beasts of burden carry all types of cumbersome cargo balanced expertly by drivers.

Motorbikes are the transportation of choice in Vietnam for good reason. The taxes and fees the government imposes on owning/importing a car average more than double the amount of the purchase price making them beyond reach for the majority. The average per capital annual income is a little more than a $1,000 countrywide and about $3,000 in Ho Chi Minh City. The average cost of a motorbike is about $800.

The sea of motorbikes never stops surging in Vietnamese cities and certainly not for pedestrians. Crossing the street can be daunting for the uninitiated. The trick is to walk slow and steady into the street, have a little faith and let traffic go around you.

To give you a sense of the perpetual motion, below is a short unedited video taken with my iphone on Le Loi Street, one of the main thoroughfares of District 1 in Saigon, just before rush hour kicked in.

Nov 6, 2012

Published Photographs: Washington, DC Edition

I thought it appropriate that this installment of published photographs should feature my nation’s capitol. It seems that every presidential election I’m overseas. This year I’m in South Vietnam. The below photos have appeared in newspapers, magazines and have been featured on the Web sites of news organizations.

Four years ago I was in the small town of Uruapan, Mexico in a restaurant watching the results come in on a big screen TV, like the other patrons. I knew President Obama won when a group of about 6-8 men sitting at a nearby started cheering. As I write this post I have no idea where I will be in Saigon when I find out the results.

Nov 3, 2012

Vietnam Bound

If all goes well I’ll be on my way to Vietnam this time tomorrow via three flights and a 10,000 mile, 28-hour journey. I spent time in Hanoi and Halong Bay about 10 years ago. This trip I’ll be in the south exploring Saigon and the Mekong Delta.

Looking forward to experiencing and photographing somewhere new to me in Southeast Asia and amazed that the airports are up and running so soon after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in this part of the world. I will be thinking of my family and friends who are still without power.

As always I’ll have posts lined up while I’m away and plenty more when I return.