Sunday, December 31, 2017

Vietnam, A Mix Of Communism And Capitalism

Vietnam is a strange mix of capitalism and communism. On one hand you have the propaganda and the soldier uniforms on the other high end malls selling the latest designer item. Yesterday saw a man driving a beautiful white Mercedes sports car. A couple of days back there was a large Rolls Royce dealership at the side of the road. The mall I visited yesterday was filled with young kids, young adults wearing the latest fashions. As they walked the mall, smiling and showing off you could tell how proud they were. No Mao suites or stiff uncomfortable looking uniforms worn by these kids.

Wonder what Ho Chi Min, Marx, Lenin and Mao would think of Vietnam’s, current consumer based economic system and culture. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Hoa Lo Prison Museum (The Hanoi Hilton)

I visited the notorious prison, “The Hanoi Hilton” today. This is the prison where American prisoners, including John McCain were held and tortured.

The prison was originally built in the 1890s and was used to hold Vietnamese political prisoners who were fighting the French colonial rule. These prisoners were often tortured as well. Those facing death sentences were executed with a guillotine.

The Hoa Lo Prison Museum is well worth a visit. The place is  well laid out with sections dealing with the entire history of the facility. The numerous photos, written histories and films are all worth watching. They have many artifacts on display, including the guillotine used to execute prisoners and personal effects and items of the American POWs. There is even a flight suit that might have belonged to John McCain.

One of the weirder parts of the museum is the propaganda videos and pictures claiming the Americans were treated humanly. The prison was a place for extreme brutality, by all sides, to try to sugar coat it with 1960s error bad propaganda is not fooling anyone. The French brutally treated the Vietnamese, the American fliers killed tens of thousands innocents, old people, children. Finally the Vietnamese tortured and regularity beat American POWs .

 Johm McCain’s sorry In His Own Words

90 Minute Hotstone Massage

Had a unique massage experience today in Hanoi.A 90 minute Hotshoe oil massage, the cost was 650000 Dong (10% discount added) with a 70000 Dong tip. I don’t do oil massages often (this is only my 2nd), am not a fan of the stripping down process. With Thai traditional massages you wear loose fitting pyjamas. When your doing oil massages they need you to strip down to your underwear. I prefer to have my pyjamas on, feel rather shy without them. They cover you up with a towel etc but there are always those awkward stripping down moments. I had on some nice fitting boxers today so no embarrassing issues.

I was asked to lay down on a massage table with a hole cut out for your face. They massage your back, legs, feet, hands and arms eith oil. The unique part of the package I chose is they use very hot stones to aid in the massage. They use the stones to heat their hands and also apply them directly to your body. The stones were right on the edge of being too hot. The young women kept asking me, “Are you Ok?”. A very nice experience, much nicer than my massage in Bangkok with Garn a few days ago. Highly recommended!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Woman Are Watching!

Have been noticing the stares of some beautiful young women here in Vietnam certainly much more than I experienced in Japan. Probably happened 4 or 5 times here in the first several days. It is kind of nice to be noticed again by beautiful women. The ones that notice will stare at you repeatedly and smile, and not at all shy way. It would probably be not so hard to find a relationship here if I was so inclined, which I am not. Probably a bit of unique foreigner attraction (not a lot of white guys around) as well as some I want to escape the country to the West and have more money factoring into these friendly flirtations. Anyway I do not mind being smiled at by the occasional beautiful woman, rather a nice feeling. Many Vietnamese women are very beautiful. They are lovingly petite, have beautiful smooth light skin with lovely long black shiny hair. There is also a courtesy and politeness in there manner that is very attractive.

Learning Vietnamese!

As always have taken it upon myself to learn a few words in the country I am making photos in. To that point I spoke some words last night as I walked the streets making pics. Vietnamese so far strikes me  me as a fun language with some difficult words to pronounce.i have started learning from a Viet language App and also from asking people I meet on the street and elsewhere here. I can probably studylearn mor Vietnamese back home in Edmonton as we have many Vietnamese in the city. Here are some of my first words.

Thank you = Gaum-Un
Hello = Sin-Jao
Goodbye = Taum-Biet
Yes =
No =
Camera =
Photo =
Neck =
Banana = Choo-iiye
Chicken = Gau
Black =
My name is = Ten-doe-lau
I do not understand = Doy-Cum-Heeowe

Wandering The Streets Of Hanoi A Night

Tonight before sleeping I wandered the streets of Hanoi Vietnam at night. I ended up making it back to my hotel room after 2am. It was quite a nice night out. I made some photos of street scenes, night workers (road cleaners, construction workers, bottle collectors, security-soldiers), and of homeless people.

I was a bit surprises how many homeless there were. Ended up probably photographing 5 -7 homeless folks in the low light.They were out on the streets, sleeping all in jackets, masks and all bundled up in blankets.

Another thing that surprised me was the single militarily guard (I think unarmed) guarding various embassy buildings. I saw, photographed and spoke to them in front of the Sudanese, Cuban and Australian embassies. Lone men standing on the streets in their green uniforms.

I also walked the locked down exterior of the famous Hoi Lo prison (the American sarcastically named Hanoi Hilton). This is a prison that housed, tortured and executed Vietnamese political prisons via guillotine during French colonial times. It is also the prison where Senator John McCaine and many other American Vietnam war prisoners were held, interrogated, beaten and tortured. I will visit the prison during the day time hours tomorrow during the day.

Walking the streets of Hanoi Vietnam tonight after midnight carrying my expensive digital Canon camera, I felt completely safe. How many Canadian or American cities could I say the same about? 

Quote: Robert McNamara

“If we can't persuade nations with comparable values of the merits of our cause, we'd better reexamine our reasoning.”

Vietnamese Driving

The driving here in Hanoi is different than anywhere else I have been. The motorbikes, the cars and the bicycles seem in near constant motion. Everything is constantly flowing forward but at a reasonable slowish pace. They have lights on some streets but even there people are only stop for a minute or so, maybe less. At non lighted intersections everyone drives all the way through all the time, in every direction, without stopping.

In Hanoi when you walk on a crosswalk with a green light signal you need to do so quickly as the turning cars will NOT Stop for you. There is also lots of horn use here but not as aggressively as in India where people often use the horn in anger and VERY aggressively. Here in Vietnam the horn is used softer, as a working tool, as I am here watch out for me safety feature (often in Thai the horns are used the same way).

The streets of Vietnam seem to be in never ending fluid motion, especially the motorbikes but it some how seem safer than Thailand. Here people do not drive too fast, it is sort of a controlled chaos thingy. After nightfall many streets are empty or near empty.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Going Thru Thai Airport Security X-ray Machines

Thai X-ray security scanners are so much better to deal with, they are professional but also relaxed and friendly. Today (December 26th) I got them to hand check my film without much of a problem. After I went through the metal detector I heard the security lady worker say to her co-worker friend “Mee ginger-guy doo-eye” (it has scissors also) referring to the backpack that went thru ahead of mine. I was asked in English “Is this bag yours?” I answered in Thai ”mai chai, grah-bow khnog-Pom mai mee gung-guy” (no it is not, my bag has NO scissors). The security X-ray lady laughed and asked me “Tum-mai Khun pood Thai geng!? (Why do you speak Thai so well?) I told her “ about my a bit of my language history studying Thai in Canada.

Thai security at airports always seems more friendly, cordial than anywhere else I have visited. I think it helps when I launch immediately into Thai talk. It makes things flow better, helps the process. Maybe it is about, their culture, their religion, their general views on life I am not sure what it is but I would rather go through a Thai security check with my beloved film and cameras than through checks in any other country.

Black Chicken Soup In Hanoi

Tonight had some black chicken soup here in Hanoi Vietnam. You got to LOVE food that includes the head.

from Facebook...

Gerry Yaum added 9 new photos.
1 hrHanoi
Tonight I had a tour of Hanoi Vietnam in the rain. Saw Ho Chi Minh’s Tomb from a distance, where his body is to this day (died 1969). Also got driven through the rainy streets and over an ancient railway bridge the French built over 100 years ago. The highlight of the night was the black chicken soup, GAU UK-GAU DEN. It was quite delicious, had some kind of bitter vegetable inside it. I also included a photo of chicken, two types that are served in beer cans. You can see ther feet sticking out of the can.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Second Impression Of Vietnam, Taxi Driver Tries To Screw Me

The taxi driver I got at the Hanoi airport was as dodgy as they come. He first agreed to using the meter, then once we started driving asked for more in American dollars, then asked for 500000 dong (Viet currency). I refused on both counts repeating “Meter, Meter.”. He then got lost which drove up the fare and finally insisted his dodgy Meter said 440000 when it actually said 410000+. Some of the digital numbers were very hard to read. I gave him 500000 (only had 370000 in smaller money after the meal). He then claimed he did not have any change and kept saying “Tip, Tip!” I insisted on some change and eventually he coughed up some, he gave me 50000 dong back. The trip from the airport to the hotel ended up costing 450000 dong, $25.21 CAD.

In Hanoi Vietnam!

Well I finally made it to Vietnam. I am currently at the airport having my first meal. Had to learn to say PHO, Fuh. Learned my first word of Vietnamese, Thank you = Goh Muh (with a rising tone on the Muh). After my meal will need to figure out how to get to my hotel! I think I paid around $10 CAD for the food, not sure, tastes good! 

Monday, December 25, 2017

What Do You Think Of A Girl That Works This Job?

Two night ago while sitting (spent 30-40 minutes talking up front) outside a blowjob bar, with G and next to 13 other women workers I was asked by G. “What do you think of a girl that works this job?” We we’re speaking Thai many of the women workers nearby could over hear our conversation.

How do you answer a question like that? With honesty. I said “The ladies here work to help their families, their children. The women here work a very difficult job because they need money to help their families. I understand that, so I respect them for that. That is what I think”

Even after years and years of working this kind of work (G is 43), she is still bothered by what she does, worried about what others think. She wants to know what me a relative stranger thinks of it all.

Many, probably most women working the bars - Gogos- massage parlours - brothels etc. in South East Asia, do so to support their own children along with large extended families.

While I was there 3 younger Chinese men showed up and went into the bar, they talked shyly amongst themselves before entering. 2 or 3 older guys also showed and walked in with much more confidence. How can they use women this way? Can they not see the reality of these women’s lives? Their individual humanity is invisible to these CUSTOMER men? Is it only about getting their personal needs met? Nothing or no one else matters?

I will return to talk and hopefully eventually make some portraits that will tell some important stories of otherwise mostly forgotten lives.

Note* Just to be clear on what’s what. A BJ bar is a bar that specializes in oral sex. The customer comes to the bar chooses a worker (usually an older lady, younger women work places they can make more money), is taken in, washed up. Then the work is done. When completed the customer usually gives the girl a tip and leaves. I believe a set fee is paid up front, not sure on that as I have never photographed in a bar like this before. With the shortime sex bars I photographed in back in 2003 for the bar girl portrait shortime room series (never exhibited), that is the way it was done, money up front.

Note** I use the word customer because that is the word in English or Thai that the worker (male, female or ladyboy) uses.

Note *** G is not her real name.

Note**** I have been asked to come back and talk some more at two different bars by different workers (G and B) “See you tomorrow has been spoken several times.” Even thou I never go into the bars or spend money I am welcomed back, good people, living difficult lives. Gosh life can be so complicated sometimes, nothing is black or white, the world is filled with greys.

Link: BANGKOK AT NIGHT - Where Is it Going?

After reviewing my BANGKOK AT NIGHT photo series tonight., I feel disappointed. There are several images I like. The sex worker, homeless men and begging pics work best I think. Most of the other stuff lacks focus and is a tad boring.

When the great photographer and my idol Eugene W. Smith took on the grand, epic project PITTSBURG, he was overwhelmed by it. He worked for 3 years, 1955-57 shooting 17000 images. Smith one of the greatest photographers in history failed with PITTSBURGH. I sure as hell ain’t no a Eugene Smith. BANGKOK AT NIGHT is doomed to fail, it is also too large to cover effectively, even if I spent a decade working on it. I think I need to focus on something smaller, SUKHUMVIT AT NIGHT (the road name) ? or focus on three homeless men, the freelance prostitution (workers with their clients)??. I need to simplify my project, simplifying will allow me to tell a story with a broader truth. Right now the work I am creating is floundering and lacks focus.

Note to self* You need to think this over carefully when in Vietnam Gerry. What story do you want to tell most? Which people do you connect with best? WHOSE VOICE MUST BE HEARD??

UPDATE* Possible title STREET WALKERS (?).
An Article On Smith’s Doomed Pittsburg Project

Thailand Worse Off Financially Now?

I have heard from 3 different ladies recently that Thailand is in worse economic shape and tha it is harder to make money since his Majesty the King, Rama 9 passed away. Khun Gaew, Khun Ann and a talkative woman at my massage shop tonight all spoke in variations on that theme. Maybe it is true, I am not sure, it seems that way. The military government might also be contributing to that feeling amongst Thai people. People seem a bit more desperate for money now. On returning to photograph the night world I have noticed a more aggressive pitch for money from most all people on the streets.

Becoming An Old Fuddy Duddy?

I think I am becoming an old fuddy duddy. Choosing what I hoped to be a great massage over all other considerations.

So two days ago while shooting on the streets of Sukhumvit road  a 30 year old woman near her massage shop basically attacked me, begging to give me a SPECIAL massage. I had to say no like 4 different times, she was not pleased.  Special is a code word for handjob sex.

1 day ago an extremely attractive Thai lady out front of her regular massage parlour gave me a big smile and looked me right in the eyes.  She was tall around 25 with long hair and  had extremely large breasts, she wore a cute red Santa hat. She had the look of someone who knew she was beautiful and knew men wanted her. She stood there dominant to in front of the other women from the shop sitting quietly behind her. She seemed all powerful, and in her element. I smiled and walked past her.

So tonight needing a massage on Xmas I went downstairs to the shop in my hotel and asked for the male worker Garn who gave me the best massage of my life 1 month ago. I ended up being a bit tense and uncomfortable through out. It was a poor massage, the shop was noisy, not a good experience at all.

How did I end up getting a massage from nice hard working gay man Garn instead of big breasted, gorgeous, confident Santa hat girl? Do old fuddy duddy types do what I did! Hey he gave me a great massage last time, let’s choose him again! 53 year old Gerry chose Garn, 23 year Gerry would have chosen the lady in the Santa hat.

Merry Xmas!!

A Lousy Xmas

Gosh Christmas in Thailand is lousy compared to back home in Edmonton. Not much of a holiday here, people and kids dress up in Santa hats, all the stores, embassies etc stay opened. Of course there is no family, no snow or general Christmas cheer. The hotel staff give you a half felt Merry Christmas and you hear a few Christmas songs (Frosty The Snowman) occasionally but that’s about it. Christmas is not Christmas in Thailand.

Hopefully New Years in Vietnam is better. I fly to Hanoi tomorrow afternoon. Plan on having a nice Thai meal and massage before I sleep early. Will wake up well rested for a new country tomorrow.

More Police Checks

Over the last several days I have driven through 2 more police check stops in nighttime Bangkok. Both times the flashlight wielding police waved me through. I saw a rather flustered looking long haired farang (Westerner) being searched at roadside yesterday. Wonder what happened to him. The new military government seems to really be in a drug crackdown mode.

Getting A Vietnamese Visa Painfull!

What a pain it is to get a Vietnamese 1 month tourist visa at Bangkok’s Vietnamese embassy. This is the process I went through.

  • Took a 1 hour taxi ride through Bangkok, the driver could not find the embassy, eventually after asking for help we arrived.
  • The embassy gives you a 2 windows each weekday to buy your visa from 900-1130am and 12-2pm.
  • I arrived at 1240pm filled out a long form, attached my photo then stood first in line. No one came to the window or offered to help me for 20 minutes. This was a stark difference to the incredible punctuality, speed and efficiency I recently experienced in Japan.
  • Eventually a man showed up, processed my form, and gave me a receipt to return on December 25 at between 4pm and 5pm (a whole 1 hour). He then pointed to the next cashier window where I paid a very high rate of 2200 baht ($86 CAD)for the 30 day visa. The most I have ever paid for a visa. A Thai 60 day visa cost $40 CAD.yh
  • Today the 25th I returned to the embassy after another long confused driver taxi ride of 1 hour plus. I arrived 30 minutes early at 330pm. There was no action at the visa counter. The room slowly filled up with people waiting for work and tourist visa’s. A line formed a 350pm. Why not give out the visa’s all day? As the people arrive, instead of bunching them all up.
  • At 4pm no on came to the window, 405pm no one came, 410pm no one came, the long line grew restless and extended out the door. At 415pm a man finally showed up.
  • The first man in line was served for 5 minutes then told to wait. The second man in front of me was also told his visa was not ready. My turn came, I handed him my receipt he shuffled through the passports beside him and told me “Please wait, need more time to process” 
SO THEY HAD MY PASSPORT FOR 5 DAYS 4 HOURS AND STILL HAD NOT PROCESSED IT!? How much time does it take to file a few forms and put a sticker on a passport page? When I get my Thai tourist visa in Edmonton it takes less than 1 hour, sometimes less than 1/2 an hour.

So here I sit waiting in the Viet embassy waiting, it is almost 5pm now. Gosh all I want to do is go to their country and spend a bunch of money, why is that so difficult? So far my view of Vietnam is negative, hope the coming trip plays out better than the lousy service and work ethic at their Bangkok embassy.

  • Got the visa at 502pm, the man apologized for the wait. Told me they just received the visa from Vietnam. Not sure why it took so long but he was polite and courteous with my impatience. Credit deserved there.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Ann Sexworker

I got pulled over during my walk tonight by an older 30 something last named Ann. She was sitting waiting for customers and offered to talk. The wanting to talk thing is often a ploy to get you to stop but I really think she wanted someone to talk to because once I sat down, she talked and talked and talked some more. She spoke very good English,. Ann told me of police bribes the street vendors pay (5000 baht), she told me various people own different sidewalks (mafia types?) and the vendors must pay them also (2500 baht). Not sure how much of what she said was true. Over and over again as we talked money came up, always money was mentioned in her conversation.

Ann also spoke of illegal drugs sold by black African men and how they would distribute drugs to Western customers through their African sex worker girlfriends. There are dozens of African female sex workers on the streets here often with their corresponding men nearby(pimps?). Photographing them is dangerous, thou I have done a bit of that. One of the African men may have followed me for a while today on Sukhumvit road. When I looked behind me he suddenly turned and walked back the direction he came. Maybe nothing, maybe something, am unsure.

At one point Ann spoke to me at length of an old customer of hers from Winnipeg who almost brought her to Canada but died of alcoholism (57 years old) before the paperwork was completed. She told me that story with a real sadness in her voice. A life in Canada that might have been. A chance for a better life that was now gone forever. Now she was older, more fragile with only had the cold Bangkok streets and the next customer to look forward to.

Note* Ann has a young daughter.

Link: Bob Carnie Master Photographic Printmaker

I got permission from the master Platinum printer teacher in Toronto to post his name in this blog. He is BOB CARNIE. I also received a high recommendation from an online friend about Bob. My friend told me to study with Bob, that he is a great teacher and really knows his stuff. I will get some of my negs made into platinum prints and study with Bob sometime in 2018, after my return to Canada.

Here is a link to a introductory Bob Carnie video on YouTube.
Bob Carnie Photographic Printmaker

Saturday, December 23, 2017

People I Spoke To Tonight

Here is a list of some of the people I spoke to tonight during my walks on Sukhumvit Road.ic

- Police officer I......
- Motorcycle taxi driver Ai
- Homeless men Gai, Nong, Lek, Wit, Dang, Ut, Louie,.
- Blind beggar Ai
- Bar lady workers S, Gaew, Bun
- Street vender Anna
- Sex pat I...(have known him for 18 years).
And maybe a dozen more for short periods, people whose names I do not know. Was really MR. GABBY tonight.

Tonight’s Adventures

From Facebook.....
Spoke to all types during my nightly rounds on Sukhumvit. A wonderful lady Khun G who works a blowjob bar. She told me of her family, her daughter 13, her son 25. I heard stories and saw pictures of her grand ma before and after she died at 96. Later in the night spoke to Khun I a 41 year old police officer who has been a cop for 10 years. We talked of travel, of my trip to Japan, of his job (he was hiding in the shadows looking for drug dealers When we met). At the beginning of the night spent time with 5 homeless men, bought them each water and gave then 20 baht a piece. Their names were Khun Gai, Ut, Lek, Wit and Nong. A great night of conversation, not sure about the photos bot the talking was good! Love talking Thai to Thais! Thailand is truly THE LAND OF SMILES.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Gave Khun Lek His Blanket

Last night I tracked down Khun (Mr.) Lek the Bangkok homeless man from a few days ago. He was sleeping on a bus stop bench with no blanket. Earlier, several days ago he had asked me for a blanket. It is quite cold now in Thailand, especially for those that sleep on the streets, people here are not used to the colder weather and can die from it. Poor Lek looked so cold when I found him, all shrivelled up in his dirty clothes with no shoes laying squished up on that small bench so he could keep off the cold pavement.

I bought a blanket for him at a nearby shortime type sex bar as it was after hours, around 1130pm and all the regular shops-stores were closed. The women who worked the bar were very sympathetic and helpful, they told me they could sell me one for 200 baht. Luckily I was able to explain my problem to them in Thai. I asked if the blanket was new-clean, they assured me it was. One of the older bar ladies then rushed into the building to help, quickly finding the blanket and putting it in a clear plastic bag for me. I paid for it, it was quite nice, fluffy and warm, looked newish, then took it out to Lek who was several blocks (around 10) away and placed it over his sleeping body. He woke up when I did this, waied me (placing his hands together near his face) and said thank you. Khun Lek then asked for some money for food. I gave him 100 baht, I hope he uses at least some of it to eat. He looked sickly and weak, not as energetic as he was during our first meeting.

Will post some photos later on when I have access to a computer with a SD card reader.

Update* The night after I gave Lek his blanket I found him sleeping again without it on the same bus bench. Not sure if it was in his backpack bag, if it was stolen, or if he sold it. I did my best there, hopefully he still has it for when he needs it.

Dreams Of Dad Beating Cancer

Here in Bangkok it is 1030am, just woke up after having a dream that my dad beaten cancer.. he was working hard in his garage, a bit wobbly, a bit x weaker but still strong, determined and past his cancer. I told him and mom standing beside him, “I am so proud of you , so proud to see you working again.” Dad on hearing this just continued with what he was doing and said nothing.

Over the last while I have had several dreams with a similar theme, my father still alive after beating cancer. I so wish these were not dreams but real. They are only dreams thou, only wishes, only hopes, all impossibilities. I will never see my father work again, he is alive only when I sleep.

Bangkok At Night Photo Series?

Thinking of doing nighttime shots on the streets of Bangkok. Years ago had the idea to shoot a BANGKOK AT NIGHT Photo Project. Last night did some preparatory type images, mostly secretly made from low angles with the Canon 5D Mark 3. This type of run and gun hidden type photography is dangerous and could lead to an aggressive response from those photographed. The mos dangerous areas to photograph in are near the bars, of drunk sex tourists, African sex workers or aggressive ladyboy workers. Also did a bit of shooting on Bangkok’s public buses. One advantage I have here is that Bangkok’s noisy streets help cover up camera noise, the sounds of the shutter and motor drive.

Am not sure of the ethics off this type of shooting. I suppose it is an extreme form of street photography, all done in public places. Everything is made at 20000 ASA and about 1/250 to 1/100 at F4 with my 24mm105mm lens set at 24mm with camera held low (trying not to attract attention). Giving a very pixelated image. I have no experience printing digitally so have no idea what the results will eventually look like if and when the work is exhibited later on. The compositions are all over the place and completely wild, often creating distorted, wide angle, rather surreal feels to the imagery.

Will continue the photo work tonight. I am also trying to establish relationships with Thais on the street. Last night spoke to any people begging, homeless sleeping (Khun Lek), traditional massage shop workers, street workers, bar workers, and several ladies working at 3 different shortime sex (bj) bars. I have another 3 Nights before I fly to Vietnam. Will probably go out each night in search of the BANGKOK AT NIGHT photos. Hopefully will not get punched out or robbed by someone. Taking secret photos on the street of drunks or sex workers with their clients is dangerous. Carrying around a expensive digital camera at night might might draw out the wrong type of person. I see many eyes looking at the camera with large lens that I am carrying. I think thou that this type of photography is important to make. There is value in others seeing this nighttime world, these often forgotten lives.

Note* Am also giving out some money, and doing some donations to homeless-begging people during my nightly rounds on Sukhumvit road. Sometimes it is only 20 baht, other times 200 or 300 baht, every bit they get helps.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Link: Platinum Master Printing Teacher?

I contacted a professional master Platinum printer in Toronto about learning how to make high end Platinum prints from him. I want to able to convert negatives and digital RAW camera files into enlarged digital negatives, then large beautiful Platinum prints.

Will post more details on all of this with links later on. I expect to spend a week or several weeks in Toronto in summer, fall 2018 learning what I need to learn. Later on I plan to make my own limited large print editions of all my best imagery in Platinum-palladium. Prints made in the platinum process have the potential to last 1000 years. Imagine that, having a work of yours lasting 1000 years past your death. That would be so cool, a dream come true.

The strange part is that, when I contacted my potential master printer teacher he already knew about my photography projects and my new HF 3535 Camera. I speak to so many people on photo related subjects, sometimes I get things mixed up. We must have spoken before online at some point.

Update* I got permission from the master Platinum printer teacher in Toronto to post his name in this blog. He is BOB CARNIE. I also received a high recommendation from an online friend about Bob. My friend told me to study with Bob, that he is a great teacher and really knows his stuff. I will get some of my negs made into platinum prints and study with Bob sometime in 2018, after my return to Canada.

Here is a link to a introductory Bob Carnie video on YouTube.
Bob Carnie Photographic Printmaker

Update** I will eventually need to get all the equipment needed to transfer all my personal fav images to platinum. Will ask Bob for his advice on what UV light exposure device to buy etc.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Vietnamese Visa

I paid for a 1 month Vietnamese tourist visa today. The cost was a very high 2200 baht ($86.45 CAD), never paid that much for a visa before. I pick up my passport with the visa on Monday the 25th and will be flying to Hanoi Vietnam on the 26th. I expect to stay in Vietnam for about 1 week. On my return to Thailand I will go to Mae Sot to continue my work at the dump.

Beautiful Very Expensive Lens

At the camera store in Kyoto I saw my dream lens on display, a 24mm f 1.4 Leica lens. What a beauty, think the price was around $8000 CAD, what wonderful important photographs I could create with it. I could never afford it on a security guards salary. It was very beautiful to look in it’s locked glass case. Nice to dream about it, dream about the pictures that could be made. I will have to do my photos with the camera gear I already own, some lens are just too expensive to buy.

Leica Camera Store-Gallery Kyoto Japan
B&H Camera Link To The Wonderful 24mm F1.4 Leica Lens

Completed All My Unfinished Japan Blogs

Spent my sick day in bed writing. All my Japanese blogs are now completed. If you have some time to wasre go check them out.

Monday, December 18, 2017

A Polite And Kind Email From A New Friend

Got an email from the man I photographed a few days ago. Japanese people are wonderful and polite. Here it is minus his name and personal links to protect his privacy. I am only posting this to show how good Japanese people are in their heart of hearts. I wrote b torn him it was OK,  he did not have to help me now in return, we all have bad days.

Note* ARIGATO GOZAIMASHITA! is the politest way in Japanese to say thank you.
Note ** The original blog story.

Dear Mr. Gerry Yaum

Hi, I'm a drunken at Tokyo station on last Saturday. I deeply appreciate
your kindness and help. The floor of the station was very cold, maybe it
is not as Edmonton and St. John's though:) But at the same time I began
to know the kindness of you, Canadian guys.

Now I am watching your web. I really like your photos. I would like to
help you, if possible. It's my turn.


—- ——

my old web

3 1/2 Hours In Thai, On Bangkok’s Street So So Different!

Gosh my 3 1/2 hours out on the streets of Bangkok tonight were more meeting people eventful than my entire 2 weeks in Japan were. I had long conversations with Apple, Ian and Ken (2 Filipino workers at a restaurant I ate at), Lek, Dang, Ai and a bit of a talk with Ning as well. Thailand and Japan are worlds apart culturally, people act entirely different.

I wonder what Thailand feels like to a Japanese person the first time they visit Thailand. It must be rather culturally, physically and mentally overwhelming to them, maybe more so than people visiting from similar countries.

Khun. Lek, Khun Dang, Sleeping on Sukhumvit Road, Homeless

After photographing Apple and having a meal I decided to walk a bit before heading back to my hotel. On the walk I passed two men sleeping on the sidewalk. Cars were buzzing by on nearby Sukhumvit road but they were oblivious to it all. Initially I walked past them but returned to make a few photos.

As I started taking their picture the younger of the men woke up and looked at me. I knelt down and started to talk to him in Thai. The man (later found out his name was Lek) was very drunk and did not understand me, I had to repeat things 3 or 4 times and speak louder to be understood. His older friend Dang who was 63, 65, 67 ( his age kept changing) also woke up and spoke to me for a while. Later on a motorcycle taxi driver named Ai (33) joined in as did a freelance street sex worker girl named Ning, Turns out everyone knew everyone and were friends.

I ended up photographing Khun Lek as he spoke an danced on the street, And Khun Dang as he yelled incoherently in Thai. Gave them each 200 baht (they might use on food, more likely on booze). I will try to return to them later, make more pics and give them some blankets. It is quite cold in Bangkok now at night. They need blankets to stay warm.

Ai the motorcycle driver took me home on his old motorbike, he asked for 150 baht, ended up giving him 200. Ai lived with sick mother and was unmarried.

Will probably meet up with all these people again, later on this trip.

Bun-Apple, Freelance Sex Worker

Over the last several years I have stayed away from photographing the night life bar scene. After doing the last of my white background sex worker photos in 2012 I moved on. Making photos in slums and in garbage dumps seemed a much nicer, a much better place to be. Tonight at least in a small way I returned to that world. This decision was partly influenced by positive reactions recently to earlier created portrait work.
Harvard Mayzine Story About Some Of The Sex Worker Portraits
Return To asex Woker aportrais? Blog Entry

I went down to a bar area on Sukhumvit road and hung out a bit, there on the street I met an older free lance worker named Apple (at first she told me her name was Bun). I ended up doing some portraits of Apple on the street and then later in a short time sex room (rent for room was 200 baht for 2 hours) she used with her customers.

Apple was typical of the women workers I photographed back in 2003. Desperate for money she talked about it often and always. She is 45 and well past her prime, over weight etc, there were not many customers these days. When we were talking she did received one message on LINE chat from a guy named Ivan. Ivan wrote “I am so horny let’s meet”. What a romantic dude, Ivan should be a poet. Apple liked his money, his big condo. She said he used to be good now he was a bad man.

During my talk with Apple she told me she had a daughter who was 15 and who lived with an aunt in Issan province ( Thailand’s poorest province). Both of Apples parents were Vietnamese and had passed on, some how she was born in Thailand. Apple was not sure how or why she ended up in Thai, and was angry that her parents never got her to America or Canada where there was good money.

Any way did some good portraits work of her I think, glad I met her. Apple had a wonderful laugh. Not sure I will make this nightlife sex worker portraits a major project thou. I joke with people, am generous with money and try to treat everyone with respect and dignity. Being in that world night after night is draining mentally, a real downer, not sure I want to jump in head first into that world again.

Searched By Thai Police

I had a freaky and a bit of a scary experience tonight. On the way to Sukhumvit road tonight after dark my Taxi was stopped at a police check stop. A police man came over with a big flashlight shined it into the back of the car, saw me then asked the driver to pull over to the side of the road. Another cop then shined a second light from the other side of the now parked car and was told to get out. I got out and the policeman asked me (in Thai) if I could speak Thai. I told him I could a bit and he seemed surprised. He then asked me to empty my pockets and searched what I brought out quite thoroughly. After wards when I spoke to the Taxi driver he told me they were searching for drugs.

This was a bit of a scary experience, about 10 cops watching me on a dark deserted area of road.. When I told one of the police in a joking manner this was all a bit scary, one of the policemen standing behind him told me not to worry. In all my years in Thailand dating back to 1996 this was only the second time I have been searched by police. The other time was way back in 2003 on a island where they do full moon parties (lots of drug use there). I wonder if the current military government is cracking down on things? I have heard that might be the case. Anyway speaking Thai certainly helped tonight. I was able to explain everything that was found in my pockets, was able to communicate with the police about my hotel etc. Tonight the policeman patted down and put his hands in all my pockets.  He checked my cough Andy bag two times He also looked in my camera bag a bit but did not search that much.

The whole stop and  search took 5 or 6 minutes. Hope this is my last late night search for a while. I never do drugs, never even been drunk in my life, today being clean helped me. Imagine what could have been if I was carrying drugs on me, YOU DO NOT WANT TO DRUGS IN THAILAND!! Certain drug offences have a death sentence in this country. Tonight was a unique experience I am NOT looking to repeat.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Lost My Watch And Sick

My first day back in Thailand sorta sucks. Been laying in my cheap hotel room $30 CAD coughing up green stuff. I also just realized my cheap green Japanese bought watch ($20 CAD) is missing, I was playing with the strap on the plane. It probably fell off somewhere, I must have lost it on the plane-airport or taxi. Too bad was hoping to use it at the dump. Will have to see if I can find another somewhere. Damn!

Now if this stupid cough would go away, I could start working again. Why do I always get sick in Japan? My last trip there. In 1999 I also got very sick, much sicker than now, terrible sore throat and cough.

Update* It has been several days now since I lost my watch. Today while digging through my clothes bag, I FOUND IT. Do not remember putting it in the bag but there it was. Now I get to see how long a cheap 1500 Yen ($17.02 CAD) Japanese bought watch will last, 4-6-8 months?

Playing With Japanese Photo Project Titles

Squished in my plane last nigh was playing with project titles and words for titles.

LAND OF GHOSTS, Wandering the landscape.
KAROSHI,Overworking yourself to death.
STREET PEOPLE, Street life in Japan.

The Japanese words for being ALONE are: Hitochi, Hitochi de, Hitoribotchi.

Alone In Japanese

The Japanese words for being LOST are: Rosuto, Maketa.

Lost In Japanese

Thai Taxi Driver Versus Japanese Taxi Driver

The different reaction I got from 2 taxi drivers, one in Tokyo, one in Bangkok a few days apart was rather stunning. Language played a role in their reactions-interactions as I spoke English to the Japanese driver and Thai to Thai driver but I also think the culture they grew up in greatly contributed as well.

My conversation with the Japanese driver was very one sided. He told me he had driven a taxi for 20 years, all my other comments met with silence, no questions were asked by him. The Thai driver who met me at the airport in Bangkok spoke to me my entire journey to the hotel, questions and jokes flying all over the place.

My recent experiences in both countries support these taxi driver cultural differences. Japan is an extremely polite but also an extremely quiet and personally held emotionally inside, private type culture. Thais are in your face friendly, loud and curious.

Get Me Out Of This Airplane!

I am into hour. 5 of my 6 hour 20 minute Air Asia flight from Tokyo to Bangkok. Am going crazy, hot as hell (the Thais are wearing jackets), body odours, and these Air Asia sears are tiny. I can barely move.  Feel totally, cramped and confined and very uncomfortable. My only refuge is the window to my left, I can look out an place my forehead against its coolness.

Around me. I have a never ending sniffing guy behind me (go blow your nose dude), a guy in front of me in full recline mode who keeps adjusting his seat back and forth, back and forth. To my right beside me I have  a huge Thai guy, bigger than myself who is constantly fidgeting and banging into me when he is not sleeping. He is also picking at his nose. HOW WONDERFUL. 

Get me off this ticking plane before I start screaming!!!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Thai Family In Tokyo

While sitting on a a massage chair at the BIC CAMERA store in Tokyo (the second store I did this in), a family sat in the chairs around me. There was a mother father and 2 young daughters. The father was sitting next to me, the mother next to him and the young girls watched. 5 or so minutes later the youngest girl asked of her mother “Sanook Mai?” Thai for  “Is it fun?”.  I responded “Sanook Mak Mak” (Very very Fun!).  Both the parents reacted with surprise.

I then had a conversation in English with the father. I asked if he liked the style of people in Thailand  or the style (customs) of Japanese people better. Surprisingly he told me he liked the discipline of Japanese people more, how they worked and followed rules. This man worked for a Japanese company in some capacity. He told me that Thai people could learn a lot from the Japanese. He mentioned how Thais will drive on the wrong side of the road sometimes etc. And how that was dangerous and wrong (hmm I do that at times on my motorbike in Mae Sot). He also spoke of how Thailand was now a very divided country along-about colours.

Note* His reference to colours is between the yellows (mostly in Bangkok, and upper classes) and the reds (mostly poor rural people and Thais who live in the Nortern cities like Chaing Mai, former Prime Minister Taksin supporters. These differences have lead to several military coups and many deaths. A former general now runs the country. He has stabilized the government after some crazy years of protest and violence.

Shark Attack Like Photography

When shooting run and gun street portraiture with a 24mm lens you sometimes need to get closer to a person if you want to fill the frame. Now when they are fast walking or sprinting through a train station and you need to cut them off at the pass or move directly in front of them while shooting-composing blindly, things can get complicated. Then you have to factor in all the other people moving in multiple directions around you.

I Ended up doing pretty well, had only one outright collision (with a younger man) during my 2 weeks of doing this shark attack type of picture making. I say shark attack like because many times I would stand on the edges, see a salaryman I wanted to photograph then pounce on him charging on in to get a side view or cutting directly in front of him or a group of people to get a frontal shot. At times I felt a bit predatory in my approach or shark like.

Heading Back To Bangkok

Am on the Narita express train now heading to the airport. I will be sleeping in a Bangkok hotel late tonight. Back to the noise, heat and craziness of Thai after the calmness, cleanliness and rigidness of Japan. Culture shock coming soon. Now I have airports, security and a 6 hour cramped flight to look forward. Hip-Hip-Boo-Boo!

A Good Final Long Nights Shooting in Tokyo

My final night of shooting tuned out well. I ended up doing about 2 1/2 hours-of photographing in Tokyo Train Station and a bit on the near empty streets above. At first I was worried there were not salarymen around to photograph but the closer it got to the 1230 am closing time the more frantic and better photographically it became. People were running to make trains, men were coming home drunk after work and there were more. People in general than earlier. I weaved thru the crowds with my Canon, weaving back and forth, back and forth looking for subjects, trying to tell the story I wanted to tell.

A good night, a worthwhile evening. I HOPE!! I have enough photos to tell the stories I want to tell.

Photo Idea: Walking The Streets Of Tokyo at Night

Walking the streets of Tokyo at night was fun a bit cold but completely safe. At some future date I would like to do a series on the streets at night here. Maybe a series of nightscapes shot with ULF CAMERAS, POSSIBLY MY 16x20 Chamonix.

Drunk People And A New Friend

Later at night every night on the streets and in the subways you encounter drunk Japanese. In my experience most were men, salary men after work but I also saw many drunk women, some in groups, some by themselves,

 To sure if alcoholism is a big problem here, more so than other countries but it certainly seemed so. Getting drunk late at night midweek (every night?) before getting up very early the next morning to return to work seemed a bit of an issue to me. How long can photographed you keep that sort of thing up before you had serious health concerns?

Will tell you about a scene I photographed on my last night. I had been walking, running, juking and jiving thru the serving crowds and was tired so decided to go to the opposite side of the stations walking area to some empty seats there. As I approached I Saw what looked to be a man lying face down on the ground. He was well dressed and groomed with long curly hair but a mess because of over drinking. In front of him on the ground was a little towel some clear liquid he had thrown up and strangely a beautiful yellow flower in a plastic skip style bag.

I photographed in the position I found him then sat and waited to see what would happen next. A minute or so later he rolled over in a fetal position on his right side. I stood and made some photos. At that point he realized I was there and looked up at me in surprise (a similar expression to my earlier made frightened lady Burmese migrant worker photo).

I then kneeled down and spoke to him, while making the occasional photo, most blindly, some not. I asked him how he was, recommended he sit on the nearby chairs or at least sit up. He asked about the photos, I explained what I was doing. I asked him about the flower he laughed out loud with a wide open mouth several times (still drunk), He said it was for his girlfriend. We then spoke about drinking a bit. “Too much saki?” “Yes too much saki.” We also spoke of Canada and some time he had been in St. John’s New Foundland. I mentioned I was from Edmonton.

He then asked me for my name card, I scribbled my email address on a piece of paper for him. He then wrote down his email for me. I will se;d him some photos later on. Sort of a new friend I guess. Another little photo adventure from this trip. I hope he can control his drinking in the future, it is bound to catch up to him.

Lost In Tokyo

I spent severa” hours lost in Tokyo last night.  I took a late JR train from Tokyo to Shigawa stations but then when I tried to catch the local connecting line train I found the gates 

locked off and the station closed. It was not so late maybe 1245am but I was screwed and stranded till train station openoed the next day.

 asked the JR station worker what to of me other companies train was closed for the night and how to exit the building. I figured what the heck and decided to walk a bit, see what I found  (turns out it was an umbrella on the side walk :)). So after asking again for some help at a 7/11 (not helpful). I went outside and after guessing at a direction I started walking. Ended up walking for about 30 minutes without really getting anywhere. I had seen taxis loading customers at the station but was afraid of the cost., Taxis in Tokyo cost a fortune. Then as I was walking I saw a taxi stop on the road and the driver run into the nearby toilet. I walked over and after reading a bit of pressure asked him which direction the station near my apartment was. He pointed it the OPPOSITE direction. It turns out I had been walking the wrong way. I asked him how much to drive there he said 2500 ($30 CAD). So I told him take me there please.  It was a long  way to walk, about 10 minutes by car, the meter read 3300 Yen on arrival. I asked him if the 2500 was OK (only had 2650 in my wallet), he said it was.

It was kind of nice to be lost in Tokyo wish it had lasted a bit longer!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Japan Trip Ending

Am behind in my blog writing will try to catch up in the coming days. Here a post from Facebook, with recent events and thoughts.
My 2 week trip to Japan is almost over. I will miss this countries food, culture and people. Two days ago did all you can eat sushi for around $55 CAD a person and last night bought a $18 CAD watch. Hopefully it will last me the remaining 4 months of my trip, want to use it in Thai. 
Japan is a wonderful and unique place in the world. Made photos for the KAROSHI-STREET PHOTOGRAPHY project every day, maybe something of substance there, will see. Would love to exhibit the photographs in Japan some day, either this Japanese stuff or one of my other series. People here love their photographic art, lots of galleries show photos.
After Japan will return to Bangkok for a week before going to Hanoi for Christmas and New Years. Then my time with the families and the dump continues. I will have eaten all these wonderful foods, experienced many diverse cultures and events but the people in the dump will only have known and experienced a life of poverty and garbage. No matter how hard they work life will stay about the same for them. Such is the inequality of our world, children working in filth meanwhile fat ass Gerry is travelling the world and eating all you can eat Beef and Sushi. Money and the prviledge of birth, where you were born and to whom, rule our world.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Editing Pictures On The Camera LCD Screen Too Difficult

Gosh trying to edit and disgard photographs using my cameras tiny LCD screen is difficult, near impossible. Is a TV HDMI editing setup possible with this camera? A much larger 30-60 inch TV would let me to see every detail in the shot allowing for better decisions. I could then choose which images to keep and which to delete more successfully.

Everything Here Is Done FAST!!

In the big cities of Japan most everything is done at a record pace. Everyone seems to be in a huge hurry all the time. People often run through the subways, workers from 7//11s to ticket bookers do their work extremely fast. The train company employees fly through their keyboards as they book in your information for seats etc, Everything seems built for dizzying speed and efficiently. Working at that level everyday of your life must be extremely exhausting for the worker. It is like all the people in the big Japanese cities are running at a record players 45 speed not at the regular LP 33 speed. Everything seems to be moving faster than it should be.

I would like to spend some time in rural Japan to see if things slow down there. It would be interesting to the contrast, if there is one.

Quote: Dalai Lama

Don’t try to use what you learn from Buddhism to be a Buddhist; use it to be a better whatever-you-already-are."

Shooting My Butt Off!

Gosh am walking for hours every night and shooting people on the streets like crazy. Am doing portraits up close and personal in a run and gun aggressive guerrilla style. Because of the varying light I face I am mostly shooting at 3 ASAs, 5000, 10000 And 20000. These very high ASAs give me the shutter speeds I need to freeze action. People her bolt thru the streets. I am pushing the capabilities of my Canon 5D Mark 3 to the max! Am using shutter priority mode, auto focus, high ASA, and sometimes machine gun like motor drive work!

Anyway, each day is an adventure. After several days of shooting I am becoming better in my technique and more confident-aggressive in my shooting.

Am very happy I will have a secondary photo project to work on (digitally) and submit on my return to Canada. I plan on submitting KAROSHI and the Japanese street photo work to both Canadian and Japanese galleries. If I can show work her, it means another trip to Japan. If I take another trip here it will give me the opportunity to make more pics and eat more food! :)

Note* At 20000 ASA there will be heavy pixels seen but such is life, need to work with it in post.
Note** I need to shoot much more still film (Tri-x)when I return to Thai. It looks like the filmmaking part of the trip will be a failure.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

My New Friend Photographer Shinsuke Yoshida

Met a new friend today at Kyoto’s Museum Of Photography. His name is Shinsuke Yoshida a talented landscape photographer. He makes wonderfully minimalist and very beautiful landscapes. His work reminds me of Japanese Haiku poetry, simple looking pieces that have broader important complex story to tell.

Shinsuke Yoshida photographer, here are some samples from the Kyoto exhibition and a link to his webpage. (Note* Will add the photos when I have access to my laptop).

Hello Shitty

You know merchandizing of the  “Hello Kitty” name has gone a bit TOO FAR when you start marketting “Hello Kitty” toilet bowl accessories. Here is a photo of Kitty and a Japanese spray-heated toilet seat, working together. Cost on sale was aroun $600 Canadian.

Kimono’s Everwhere

Not sure why but I saw lots of Kimono’s being worn in Kyoto, much more than in Tokyo. Even the tourists join in the fun. Many Chinese visitors pay to play dress up, and walk the streets, both men and women. Always felt kimono’s were especially beautiful, a woman seems so feminine when she wears them. It must be quite difficult to move in one, one normal step in pants is like 6 steps in kimono.

Like A Salmon Swimming Up Stream Against The Current

As I photograph in the subways and streets of Tokyo/Kyoto heading up current against the mass of humanity walking-running towards me I feel like a salmon heading up stream on the last most important journey of its life. I fight my way through the dangers, the bubbling current while trying to create, trying to tell a small story about the lives of these people.

Leica Store And Gallery Kyoto

In Kyoto I visited the Leica store-gallery (My Japanese freind Shinsuke told me about the place) They had a Marc Riboud exhibition of photos shot on the streets of Japan (there always seems to be a Japanese connection in Japanese galleries). The work was not that exciting for me thou there were a few photos I enjoyed. They had some wonderful Leica equipment on display, all the gear was on red velvet behind locked cabinets. Sad to see these wonderful tools not making photographs. Cameras and lens need to make photos, it is their destiny.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Japan The Land Of Little Old Ladies

Japanese people live longer than any other countries people. Japanese women live longer than the men. Everywhere I went in Japan I saw little old ladies, very cute little old ladies walking. Sometimes there were even larger groups of them gossiping and walking around together. Made some photos of this important segmented Japanese society, will post them later.

Photographing In Kyoto Japan

Bought another 128GB compact flash card and spent an hour photographing salarymen moving through the train areas in Kyoto. I would wind my way back and forth in the public walk areas while taking no look photos with motor drive and auto focuse, did the escalators several times as well.

I was hoping to not attract the attention of security or the train staff. They are on the lookout for suspicious activity and big white dude winding his way back and forth through the surging crowds while swinging a camera about. I no doubt was on some security persons radar but was able to shoot and leave without incident.

I was forced to shoot at 20000 ASA to freeze action in the poorly lit Kyoto train walk ways. I was shooting at 1/1000 and F 4 to freeze the fast moving, sometimes running salarymen.

Note* I prefer the wild off angle compositions and lower angle views the random machine gun type shooting I am doing now accomplishes. 

Now In Kyoto Jaoan

From Facebook...

After a fun day in Hiroshima am now on the bullet train bound for Kyoto. Todays Hiroshima highlights included visiting Itsukushima Island-Shrine, hanging with some deer, eating a feast of oysters (18 for$35 CAD). Every oyster dish had a different flavour. Also made a bunch of pics for the “Karoshi” photo project. Will stay all night and all day tomorrow in Kyoto before returning to Tokyo late tomorrow night. Bangkok is not to far off and then some time in Hanoi, Vietnam before traveling back to the dump for an extended period of work.