Saturday, December 5, 2009

Halong Bay

~ ~ ~ sail on ~ ~ ~

I found out about Halong Bay just two days before I left Germany and thought I had found something rare and special. Well, that was the case. Back then didn't imagine though that there would be this much tourism going on...

The same morning - during the first (boring) minutes on a too small bus - I had decided to try to find me a bicycle after this short trip. Being on one of these tourist-boats, with happy, enthusiastic or nagging westerners (knowing I was one of them), only could confirm me in my decison.

(the day I posted this on flickr, I realized that I have a photo from the same spot as on the linked page above!:p)

day at halong bay

Cat Ba - the great rip-off

If you intend to ever go to Halong Bay, or especially Cat Ba, always know how much money you hand out. Some vendors tend not to give any change..... NO matter how much you gave them! It's almost hilarious.. I heard some stories like this and I made one experience myself.

Gladly I wasn't on the island for long.. only for a minute, to get me a bottled water. I gave the young lady my money, but her, being polite at first (saying thanks) & smiley, wanted to insist that the money I gave her was the adequate price (was about two Euros difference though).

~ ~ quiet waters ~ ~

girl with the wonderful smile

girl with the wonderful smile

Taken somewhere on a street in Hanoi... I saw her walking with her brother and an umbrella in her hand (to protect from the sun). Asked them for a picture, they both gave me the biggest smiles, and I walked my way. Turning around again and waving goodbye to both. Maybe two of the loveliest kids I've met on my journey, as I feel now... even if it was only such a short moment, but they just "aired" so much happiness and lovelieness...... which too made me happy even more that lovely noonday.

Unfortunately her brother was standing in the blazing sun, so I had to crop the photo this way..

A friends comment recently pointed me that she looks more like Chinese. I then concluded that maybe they were visiting relatives, so that their holidays explained their happiness...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In search of a smile

P8252003 3.jpg

I didn't know what kind of hospital this was when I got there. It just seemed not to be an ordinary one. I thought it might have been one for victims of Agent Orange (I saw a very deformed child in Saigon.. this might have been from A.Orange.. that was shocking..), but after I took these shots I found this poster:

P8252006 2.jpg

After I saw the poster I asked the guard whether it was possible to go in for taking some pictures. I was quite touched before asking him, not being sure what it would be like to take pictures of these kids. He said no. So I left... and next day I left Hanoi.

When I was back about four weeks later, I wanted to give it another shot... I had something in my mind which I could have said to get in.. maybe something like that I want to write an article about it. Anyways, it was just the very last day, the day I had to leave back to Germany, when I wanted to go there again, so I wouldn't have much time. I thought I could go there for a min. or two, on my way to the bus. I imagined when I would take the pictures and meet these children, I might leave Vietnam with a smile - I was in pursuit of a smile that day actually. The plane would go after 5 p.m. and I left the hotel before noon. I just walked in the direction from where I knew the hospital is.. although I wasn't sure where exactly it is (just remembered some points). Plus, I thought that was the same direction from where I came on my first day - where I jumped from the bus that came from the airport (well that was wrong).

In short, I missed the hospital (didn't find it again).. I walked past in this direction, hoping to find the bus, coming from the centre. So I left the centre towards the wrong direction. About three hours before the plane would take off I found somebody in a shop who spoke english and I asked her to tell the taxi driver to bring me to a bus, which would take me to the airport (I didn't see the necessity yet to let the taxi bring me the 15 kms to the airport.. and then fight about the much too high price). He brought me to where I started, right in the centre. There were small buses (no public transport to the airport). The guy asked me when my plane would take off - which was two hours before that - i told him, and finally 45 min. later he would start the ride (after I knocked on the window, showing on my clock). Hm, on the bus I thought it might get short of time slowly. But then I thought if they bring people to the airport every day, they should know! Nevertheless he took his time. Some traffic jam as well in the city. But he remained cool (I tried to). We were at the airport about 20 min. before my plane would take off. I thought (not having the experience) that this should be enough to check in and hop on the plane. I was wrong again.

You can guess, my personal "mission smile" for that day failed. And yet I didn't regret it. When I left asia three and a half weeks later, I was really ready to leave.. and so glad to get back home. I left with a smile.

Monday, November 2, 2009

About a boy

s m i l e

Between Ca Na and Phan Thiet
(Friday, 11.09.2009)

I met the little boy and his family on a sunny, but very windy day around noon. Later there also was a bit of rain too. The day (which you can see at the beginning of my video) had started just wonderfully, since at first the wind didn't bother me much. But later after a couple of kilometres on the bicycle it did. The wind came straight from the ocean and hit me undamped. When I had to climb some hill, I started to feel lousy. Finally on top of the hill I was happy to see some of those huts, one after the other, where they sell drinks and where I could refresh myself (short before this I had stopped again for a moment and recorded the scenes after those at the beach in the video).

There were about five of those huts, one after the other, and after pondering where to stop, I got it easier then, when I saw two kids playing in the distance in the last one. Easier not only because I love kids and the interaction with them, but also because sometimes I just felt uncomfortable when there were only grown ups in such places, and the way they sometimes would observe me, not speaking english etc., or other times getting a bit too importunately. But of course I've also had many positive experiences, when it was very relaxed or even fun.

But to the boy, I don't know, I just liked him. In fact, it wasn't difficult not to like him. Anyhow, at a certain point in Vietnam I met people, children, who when I took a picture of them, very soon asked for money. I started to feel a bit uncomfortable about it then when kids were just smiley, because they could sense and pronounce the word dollars. To be honest, I didn't always give money. This time it was different. I thought about how much I would give for the boy. Just "coins" of course (even if it's tens of thousands in vietnamese money). I even felt like giving him a hug, before leaving. But instead of the hug, I took him up and shook him a little bit. In a kind way of course. He smiled. His father smiled at me too. I smiled back to both of them. Happy End................ no, not entirely.

My creation

Thereupon his father showed me the boy's feet. I was quite shocked to see how deformed they were (if you dare, you can have a look here). Also since I didn't notice it before. The father tried to make me understand that they need money to feed him. I wanted to give something, so I did. Even if suddenly I was expected to do so. Anyway, I payed my drink and gave a little extra for them too, additionally to the "coins" I gave for the boy. While I gave the father the money I asked him how this happened, by showing on a motorbike.. the father intimated that it had not to do with a motorbike. I didn't ask again. I had a vague feeling that he didn't want to tell, or didn't feel well with the question, altough he smiled.

My creation

The family was just preparing for lunch when I wanted to leave. I was quite hungry as well actually, and didn't know when there would be the next restaurant. I had everything ready and wanted to leave and the moment I waved goodbye, the father offered me to stay and eat with them. I hesitated for a moment, but then joined them. I was glad. So I had lunch with the two kids, the parents, one granny; the grandfather did not join them.. but then a bit later another older woman came. I supposed maybe the sister of the grandmother or grandfather (probably the latter).

Soon I noticed this grandaunt's peg leg. She even presented it with a smile. It was in some kind of rain gutter. Later that day I tried to interpret the whole scene. Or rather, the family's, and the boy's story in particular. I imagined that the boy's scar might not have happened by accident, but might have done intentionally. Possibly to make travellers feel pity for the boy and through this, give money more easily. The family lives in really poor conditions (such as many people I met during my travels, especially in Vietnam). I imagined how just this might have worked very well for years for this grandaunt. Who by the way and to be honest, couldn't touch my feeling for sympathy. Actually how I saw the family then, I was reminded of some classic tragedy. And for me there was the "bad" aunt. The parents of the boy, the sister and the grandmother seemed really likeable. The grandfather kept aloof from the family, even during lunch. I felt he was very unhappy. I interpreted it later as a possible feeling of guilt. Possibly for what he might have done to his grandson. Maybe the parents and the grandmother (probably his wife) couldn't seem to really forgive him for what he had done. Even though they knew it would be "better" for the family, in a way that it would mean more money for them. But even more, he didn't seem to be able to forgive himself. Maybe he couldn't put it all to (who I picture as) his sister, the grandaunt. Maybe the rest of the family didn't even know that it was all the grandaunt's idea. - Well, if it really was. - Since she moved within the family so freely and easygoingly. Or maybe they know, and she just deals with it differently, only seeing the benefits from it.

P9114236 v bw22.jpg

Friday, October 30, 2009

A wonderful morning + Video

Ca Na - Phan Thiet
(Friday, 11.09.2009)

This is kind of a continuation from my earlier post, it was the day afterwards.

The first scenes in the video (below) were recorded out of the window that I had for that night. Although my feeling that morning and the memories I had afterwards were much more lovely than what you see there. It was gorgeous. There are just things you cannot capture on video, like waking up surrounded by sunlight, hearing the ocean, feeling good about the fact that you got there all by yourself, having endured all obstacles, wind, rain, heat, bike problems etc.

P9114145 2 vlo v.jpg

When I arrived at the beach, about one or two km after the place I had for the night, I really loved it. I didn't really care about how I record with the camera... just wanted to capture a bit of the mood from the moment. Something similar actually applies to the rest of the video. There was some partly rather funky traffic (two days later near and in Saigon) I had to keep my eyes on (maybe that was also the reason that I sometimes held the camera the wrong side around and accidentally recorded myself). ;)

Vietnam on the Move from Yves Schiepek on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lễ Cô Hồn/Wandering Souls day

Hué.. and beyond.
(Wednesday 02.09.2009)

It was an interesting morning. Actually it didn't go about quite perfectly, until I found this lovely place, where the people of the village outside of Hué - which is in the middle of Vietnam - celebrated their " Lễ Cô Hồn/Wandering Souls day" or "Offerings for the Dead day".

I arrived in Hué the night before, by train. I came from Thanh Hoa, after having travelled by bicycle for a couple of kilometres, starting in Hai Phong. I wasn't sure whether I should do some sightseeing in Hué or not. I only knew that it was famous for its tombs. Then I thought it probably would be more interesting to meet people that actually are alive. So I decided against staying. Also because I had just spent about a day (12 hours) on the train and wanted to jump back on the bicycle to see the country (not only from a moving window) and approach my (first) destination, Saigon, which was still pretty far. Later I heard a couple of times from people telling me about how quiet and beautiful Hué should be...

My first experience before leaving the city was lovely. After leaving the guesthouse I saw a woman selling the infamous sugarcane. ;) I had to stop. There was a cute girl, who was pretty funny, running around and so. :) Sugarcane is basically a trunk that squeezed out gives a sweet juice that you can drink without any additional ingredients. Only ice is naturally being added, in those hot parts of Asia. The first time trying, introduced to me by Tam back in Hai Phong, I felt it tastes like some non-alcoholic cocktail. A moment later I pictured myself returning to Germany with some trees on my shoulder. But I finally had to give up on this thought, since the machine for the sugarcane is heavier than dozens of these trunks. =)

One of the next things was what since then I remember as "Alcatraz Plaza". Virtually just a shopping centre. The tough thing was not to get out, but to get in! In short, it took me a couple of minutes getting up to the supermarket. I came with the bicycle and the first problem was where I can park it. I was adviced to another place twice. After I finally was inside and arrived at the 2nd floor of the shopping mall, in front of the supermarket, I could espy the food department, where I wanted to go. I tried to enter. - Not allowed. - I had to go to the 3rd floor and then from inside the supermarket go back down to the 2nd floor. Arrived at the 3rd floor I wasn't allowed to enter either... not with my helmet! I was kindly ordered to lock it in, some 20 metres besides the entrance. I wondered what I could possibly hide in the helmet. But rule is rule. So for a second I thought about locking it in, then entering, fighting myself through the crowds down to level 2, buying my bottle of water and some fruits, coming back to level 3 to pick up my helmet and then finally being able to leave - and the morning was in its later hours already - but I decided to leave immediately. Actually hilarious... if it wouldn't have been so sad.

Now the irony was that I probably wouldn't have got troubles with my stomach for the next couple of days, if I would have spent some hours in the supermarket (no other supermarket around), rather than buying fruits on the market on the street later, where I (stupidly) asked the saleswoman to cut the dragonfruit for me. I just wanted to eat it immediately. She used a knife that looked a bit rusty and as if never washed. Well.. *cough*, my own fault to still eat it then. So, I spent most of the following day in bed, with heavy rains all day additionally and only eating baguette all day the day afterwards (you know, the kind of baguette that makes your stomache ask you an hour later: "Where's the food?" and you think: "Ask the brain, there was something a bit earlier..."). Six of those, no other food...

But finally to how I ended up there at this ceremony, and why I was so eased with the idea to have a break (again) and at the same time witness something quite special. It was also time to have lunch soon, and maybe I could find something there, or at least close to this place. I only made it about 10-15 km outside of the city, not much at all. In between I stopped at a bike shop, checked my bicycle; back on the road, stopped for yet another break to have me yet another sugarcane drink. Again on the road I started to notice the smoke, which had been apparent already before, but slowly it began to bother me. At first I didn't see anything burning, no smoking chimneys or anything like that - saw only some smoke from a distance sometimes. Yet the smoke got so suffocating that I had to cough, put on mouth protection (which doesn't really help, only makes breathing harder) and steadily had to decrease speed, until I was slow enough to get enough O2 for my lungs to breath and still move the pedals a bit... rather than to lose consciousness and fall from the bike. This isn't much exaggerated, it felt really fatal.

It is almost impossible to use this kind of
protection and ride the bicycle/breath at the same
, so this was the main reason for stopping, when...

... I heard some sounds and music. Actually I was really upset about the smoke meanwhile and more or less thought I'd stop just to have a quick look. But then I just felt so warm at this place I had discovered. People smiling at me. Kids running around. Something was going on, and it felt special to me. I was tired, exhausted (.. already, strangely) and then moved.

(not so well recorded, unfortunately=)

(the kids)

(before I went inside)

The Ceremony


And then there even was some food! :0)


Of course the day wasn't done with that. Not long after the ceremony there was lots of rain (as seen in the first scenes of my "Vietnam & the rain"), a beautiful mountain/hill, followed by an exciting downhill ride, finding a lovely place by the sea where I stood for the night and the next day under water...

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Great Day (videos: me in action + a proposal)

Nha Trang - Ca Na
(Thursday 10.09.2009)

The Proposal: On this lovely day I had my first proposal in Vietnam. It happened in Nha Trang, short before leaving the city, during breakfast. Well, actually it was only a kind-of proposal. The woman to the right, the younger one (she is married and has a child) asked me about whether I'm married or not and whether I plan to do so in Germany or Vietnam. I said that I'm still single and don't know. Thereupon she told me that the woman on the left (the bit older one) likes me and left space for further plans between us two.

Hm, I must admit, I liked the thought of being wanted. But after considering for a moment, I decided to give her a miss. Turned gay and then ran. I figured it just wouldn't have worked...... and probably not just because of the distance between our two countries.

(I recorded this just seconds after the lady told me)


The day before I had actually thought about going away from the big Hanoi-Saigon Highway for the last kilometers, but then next morning I was happy I had changed my mind in the last minute. I was very eased when I realized that after Nha Trang there were not these closely spaced houses, one after the other, that would add their smoke from, cooking or burning stuff, to the street. Even worse when it rained - something that happened every day, since the day I started on the bicycle from Hai Phong - the smoke just got stuck in the air and it would give you far worse headaches than any truck, bus or motorbike gas could give you. Again worse on the bicycle, since one simply needs more air to breath.

Instead I could enjoy the country much better and strangely just that day could smell loads of wonderful 'countryside air'. But what I didn't know, it would remain the only day I could have such fresh breezes, until Saigon-city. Around 3 pm it rained again and it seemed it would do so for the rest of the day. Especially when it looked like such hard rain as I had seen just few days before that, when it wouldn't stop to rain for one and a half days. But after an hour in the rain - during which the time seemed to flow less smoothly, endlessly slow - I was through it. To me it seemed that the dark clouds got stuck within this mountainous region, which I just was about to pass. And when I had left it, my assumption showed to be true, probably.

me in action: Here you see me while riding the bicycle. There's no special effects and I assure you I didn't just sit at home on some home trainer and put me in the video afterwards.

Actually I was not so fast. He was just kind of slow with his motorbike. Also I'm not really so tall as it might seem here, hardly anybody in Europe would consider me tall. People here in Vietnam are just a hint smaller - as you might have heard before. But yes, the proportions just seem different.

(and yes, I do look silly:p)


Around 6 mp I arrived in Phuoc Dan, of which I saw marks already 56 km before, and which I decided should serve as my stay for the night. I had my lunch there. Afterwards I asked for a hotel. I was told to either go to Phan Rang, where I just came from and which lies 10 km behind, or go 20 km in the other direction, where I wanted to go. Of course I didn't go back. 20 km in the dark (short after 6 pm here), I had done this before many times. Although not many times without light. Nor in a rather dangerous country, with its disorderly traffic. And also not with a mid-danger of Malaria (as it should be in this region), so one is advised to stay within closed rooms.

So to make me feel uncomfortable from the start, many many flying subjects hit my face in the dark. But gladly they must have been surprised just as me, so they didn't get the chance to bite. Maybe they even got it bad and went home with a big headache themselves, if at all. Strangely though this lasted only for about 3-5 km and then I didn't notice any insects anymore.

(Ca Na) About an hour and a half later I arrived in the place where I was told to find a hotel. A very small place. But one hotel after the other, hardly any other houses. I had no idea why and that moment didn't think much about it, being tired, but yet enthusiastic in a way, happy about my day. I asked in all of them for prices and then decided for one of the uglier ones, with the better price. But which, how I realized a bit later, is situated directly by the railways. And the street on the other side.

Having a drink outside and then hearing the big vehicles with its utterly loud horn thunder past, made me think that I wouldn't quite have fun at night at that place. I went back to a hotel where the owner offered me a special price for a room without air-condition. With it it would have been 10 $ = 180.000 vnd. I got this one for 120.000 vnd. A room with a better price you can rarely find at guest houses or hotels across the country, as foreigner.

So okay, I preferred this room, because the hotel looked better and the room is at the very end of it, so the farthest away from the street and railways. AND, it is directly at the sea/the ocean! As the owner told me after viewing and as I saw myself when I brought my stuff. Then I was just HAPPY. It was perfect!

A perfect end of a great day. And it promised to become a beautiful morning. And it became one.

Monday, August 31, 2009

2nd day of Vietnam by bike - The adventure continues

bike incidents / fast roads / sun&heat / heavy rain / the lift

Had an amazing, beautiful, interesting day. Perfect in its imperfection!

Monday 31.08.2009: Thanh Binh - Thanh Hoa

Start: 8:00 am, it's a sunny day
(notes in the notbook - 2nd breakfast 9 - 9:30 am )

- Today I decided to choose one run smaller in the gear shift, than yesterday, so that I give a higher frequency to the paddles. Through the automaticly faster breathing the muscles are being supplied better with O2. It feels more controlled and less exhausting, whileI should have the same speed.
- Just touched my backpack while riding and noticed how much it shakes all the time - even on even roads.
- The gearshift made some noise today too, so I realized that the chain has been moving sidewards too.

The bike incident

(notes on facebook - ca. 11:00 am)
- 24 hours after starting with the bike, my back wheel looks like noodle salad. Great there was a mechanician around just a couple of metres after I noticed it. And just one door further is the internet cafe where I am now.
(about 45 min. later on facebook)
- The mechanician's been doing an excellent job, it seems. Much better than the one I met yesterday, who instead of improving my little problem with the gear shift worsened it..(so then I fixed it again myself).
- Now it's almost ready again. I also fixed the two bamboo sticks - Tam's idea to let the backpack lay better on the bike..on the bamboo - with rubber band. Think like this the whole thing should move a bit less/be more stabile, so that the problem I had also hopefully shouldn't occure again so quickly.

The problem I actually had was with the crossings of the backwheel. Then I had to realize though that the mechanician had troubles with the gearshift.. they just don't often see stuff like this; if at all.

It actually looked helpless then, so I decided to go for lunch. Met very nice people again (the kids of the mechanician were fun too), had some good food and dropped a bowl. They didn't want me to pay for the food. I was very thankful.. but then I felt bad and wanted to pay them for the crushed bowl at least. They refused.

Back to my bike, it was done! We were all so happy.. and the mechanician proud. Like I said, he was great! ;) I did a few metres with the bike to see how it works and one of the boys was screaming "yaayy".. The good-bye then was very heartily - even more than just a couple of minutes earlier, when I left the small restaurant.

Fast roads

(notebook 2:30pm - 2:50 - at a small Cafe)
1:45 - 2:30 pm - was finally back on the road again, the bike incident cost me around 3 hours.
- following wind / big streets / going pretty fast - no wonder, I had a long break and a good lunch.
- the heat and the sun don't bother me

Sun & Heat

2:15 pm: - suddenly sunny again, after some min. of clouds / feels really hot now
2:30 pm: - considering the speed I had, I decided it might be wise to search the shadow for a little while / I felt like on fire / need to be carful, you never know; I'm still pretty new to this climate
- think stopping was really a good decision; now about 10 min. after arriving in the Cafe, I feel and partly look like having been under water with clothes
- the Cafe is empty. At first I thought nobody's here, but then saw the owners sleeping in the next room.
2:50 pm: less sunny again and dark clouds are coming from the direction I came - leaving the

Heavy rain

(notebook 3:50 pm / yet another Cafe)
- short after I left the Cafe one hour ago, I heard the tunder; back on the road, I was in the shining sun again
- In Ninh Binh I felt I was doing a competition with the dark clouds.. took videos again, seeing myself as winner - at the entrance of the city, they caught me / the rain got me
- I've been here in shelter from 3:15 - 4 pm
- at first there was very heavy rain, when it started, now lighter
- seeing some blue space between the clouds - heading off again at four o'clock

Ninh Binh - Thanh Hoa:
Very dusty, loud, dickey and rather dangerous road with lots of trucks. But wouldn't have wanted to miss this experience. It's part of the adventure!

Bike incident

(notebook 8 pm / at the hotel in Thanh Hoa)
5:30 pm: had "noodle sallad" again ie. the bad wheel.
- thought that would be the end of the ride for today, since there was no mechanician around and you need a special tool for this (will get me tomorrow, so that I can check it every few hours on the road)
- but with a gripper we fixed the crossings, so that I could continue my trip for a couple of kms more.
- was a nice mountainous area though and wouldn't have minded staying either

The lift

6:00 pm: Sunset
- the sunset means it's getting dark slowly (in europe we have it 3-4 hours longer bright in summer) and I should think about finding something to stay for the night
- saw a building that looked like some hotel, but passed over.. there even was internet next door / still felt good though and wanted to stay on the bike for a bit more / still would have been nice to wake up in this environment, with some awesome views.. even if there was the dirty street nearby
- but some metres farther, three young and smiley guys in a small truck stopped and suggested to give me a ride / I said ok, thinking it could be fun
since they looked nice, there didn't seem to have been danger
- felt this kind of thing also belongs to every adventure, the bike on the back of the car (maybe me too, but because of police we didn't do this) and today I got lots of it. :))
- that was about 25 km before Thanh Hoa, my secret dream destination (about 120 km away from the city I started that morning), so cosidering the distances in the cities themselves and the time I finally was on the bike altogether, I probably had between 100-115 km done today.

Tomorrow a relaxed day is planned: Looking for a bicycle shop and then taking the train down south. My muscles most probably need this break.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hai Phong - Thanh Binh (by bike)

I finally want to share some experiences from Vietnam. I hope to write about my earlier days a bit later here.

At first, my experiences with hotels so far was: The cheaper, the bigger and more comfortable. I'm in my third hotel now (fourth when I count in the night on the boat in Halong Bay;) and I'm loving it. But there's no way to find anything even cheaper with the service the one here offers.

Right now I'm in Thanh Binh. Did my first day on the bike, from Hai Phong. Tam and me started at 10 am and I rode the bike 'till 4.30 pm. Tam is the friend who did so much for me (helped me with the bicycle and so many other stuff, I'm very thankful and still moved by her dedication and support!). This morning then she showed me the way out of the city, to the road that leads to Saigon. Wasn't too easy to find and it took quite a while to get out of Hai Phong's suburbs.

The distance I did today was approxamitely 50-60 km. Less than I would have thought, but I'm glad that everything went well. Since the bike is not so good (a bit shaky), and I don't have the kind of gear for the bike I have at home. Also my legs actually felt a bit heavy already not too long after starting and also my derriere soon felt like apple puree. The saddle is made of bamboo sticks. At least it felt like this after a while. ;)

Tomorrow I plan to get to a city from where I want to take the train for a bit then. In order to skip the middle, the poorest part of Vietnam. A suggestion from Tam. Also since I need to skip something, otherwise there wouldn't be enough time to reach Saigon and then get back to Hanoi (by train anyways) on time.

Friday, August 14, 2009

10 days to go

Today I thought about leaving my laptop here when going to Vietnam, after I went to an electronics-shop to ask about what I could do concerning the different voltage throughout the country (especially on the countryside it can differ a lot) and they showed me the smallest voltage transformator I would need. It has about the weight of three of my laptops. Later today I had the idea that, instead of taking this with me, I could simply keep my computer usage at a minimum level and use it unplugged mostly (it runs more than 8 hours with electricity). Then I could charge the battery of the laptop when it seems safe... I just checked and realized that the adapter from the laptop has a compatibility from 100-240 V anyway, so it seems it could deal with certain differences. But yes, to be be secure, I could still stick to my first idea, to use it mostly unplugged. Guess I still must think about what to do with the other gadgets I take with me. Two of them can be charged through USB, but that means that I would have the computer on. The battery of my DSLR can be charged externally, so that should be no greater problem. Well, to be continued in my next blog? No, I hope not... seems a bit silly to write about such technical problems, so I hope the next time I will find something else to write about. ;-)

Anyway, having the laptop with me surely could already make the train ride (to Frankfurt, from where the flight goes) and the 17 hours of flight a bit more varied. Would be nice to talk to some interesting people too of course. So what I thought of already is that I could do something with the filmed material I recorded 'till then, and cut together one or two mini videos. Then there will be a book, music of course and let's see if I will need more.

By the way, as for my new cam, I got it confirmed today: there's no way to find a better camera for that price by this time. =) Tomorrow I'm gonna bring it back to where I bought it though. So unless they cannot exchange it with another one, I will ask for my money back and buy the same model somewhere else (found it even cheaper in amazon). It created some strange problems already, after just these few times.

PS: Going to try another blog site again, I'm thinking now maybe I'm gonna move there. =)

PPS: Just noticed the 'gadgets' here... think I should check them out too before switching, to see what they're all about!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

12 days before the flight (about pc, camera & co.)

Hi, this is my first blog of this kind. I'm starting it particularly, or exclusively, in preparation for my trip to Vietnam (starting August 23rd).

At first, if you intend to read all of this (sorry for the stream of words!;), you might check out this song.. since I'm "drifting" a couple of times.

Yesterday I received the lock for my (last week purchased) Eee PC! (If you haven't heard from Eee before, it's a baby under the laptops; but a pretty advanced one.) At first I didn't plan to take it to Vietnam, but then I thought it could be a nice thing, and could make some things easier, more comfortable and faster. At least when it comes to transferring music- and particularly saving image-data or when wanting to write something and share it. Carrying it with me is another thing though, it partly makes things a bit more difficult, less comfortable and slower; I anyway should rather not run with the computer on my back. But ok, with all the other stuff in my backpack then, it wouldn't be quite fun to run anyway. I just thought of it (needing to run) for the case I would need to catch a bus or so, and possibly having to wait for the next one for two hours if I wouldn't get it. Although, as I heard there must be quite many of them on the roads in Vietnam(?). But who knows, maybe I'm also gonna be using some other means of transportation... such as turtle or donkey. ;-)

What I wanted to say is that I'm happy about this lock for the laptop, because in the last couple of days I've been worrying a bit about all the (electronic, and in some cases just recently purchased) stuff that I want to take with me [besides the above and below mentioned, it was an mp3-Player]. So this lock eases me a bit, well at least for the Eee. And after the DSLR, the Eee is the most valuable piece of technology I would carry.

Anyhow, do you have any tips on this, taking the computer with me to Vietnam? I will just travel with a big backpack and inside there would be the laptop? Hmm, not sure yet if or how that would work! (Edit: I just received my traveler back
pack, and it actually has the "ideal" space - at least it seems so - for the laptop on the outside.. I only would need to protect it a bit, and then it should be quite fine.)

@White Cube from Yves Schiepek on Vimeo.

(if you can't play this video properly, scroll down for a smaller version)

To the video. Basically it is a byproduct of my preparations for my travels. And my first experience cutting (digital) film on the computer. For my previous short movies I used my mobile-phone to record and cut. =) But yes, it's a very similar process as with the video slideshows I also did.

Actually I simply wanted to get me a low-priced compact camera, in addition to my DSLR, so that in case I'd have my 300mm lens on the camera
(which is the case mostly, after I had sold my 100mm 2.0 lens*), I could simply switch to the compact camera for a wide(r) angle. I'm just mostly too lazy to change lenses. So I found this camera, a Kodak M1033, on sale - which normally already has quite a good price - as exhibit, with about 15% off. And when I noticed that it has the video mode, and even in HD... Well, I guess I just wanted me to have it. I also checked for reviews in the internet, and they were mostly pretty good. So 'till now I've rather been recording video with it, other than taking pictures. =)

The bright lens: It was too expensive for my way of using and I wasn't so happy with it > would have prefered a 50mm, as I found out later; pity that I don't have a Canon, since they sell such bright lenses for a WAY better price.. especially the manual ones from second hand.. argh, maybe I should try again selling the Olympus when I'm back, there are some good reasons to get a Canon or Nikon.

So yes, I'm really quite happy with this camera. It even has an editing-mode (to cut the videos) - besides other nice options - so that I don't need to put the entire footage on my computer, then cut it and THEN convert it, before I can work with it in the editing program. That saves much time and effort. And also looks a bit more well-arranged in the folders, when I can seperate the videos and have many short ones, rather than a huge overlap of videos, with all the unwanted things in them: the shaking (from pressing the record-button for example) or just "meaningless"/boring footage, etc.

The quality of this video isn't great of course, since it was taken under these low light circumstances. So the ISO rate was high. Another thing about the quality is that for now I recorded everything without a tripod, in my hand. So that it shakes sometimes anyway. I want to use a tripod though in the future, as often as possible. Oh, and unfortunately do both, Windows Media Player and iMovie convert the HD 16:9 video to a 4:3 format. So yes, what you see now is actually distorted..

This one was entirely edited in W. Movie Maker. But just now I found the AVS Video Editor & Video Converter software for windows. It looks neat so far. I hope it works better than the two above mentioned, without the troubles they make in one way or another.

Why I put together a video from this night and not from my (very beautiful) day by the sea in the forest the same day, has probably to do with the fact that this material was something else for me and maybe even more that I felt it would be easier to deal with the music.

PS: Initially I wanted to use the original music for the video, which was being played that night and actually also was pretty atmospheric and interesting (I liked it), but when last night I listened to the music I finally used (Christian Scott's "Like that"), I felt a bit more inspired to do this. I guess since it equates more to my usual taste. =)

(Hm, think I should try to write less the next times... otherwise it probably even makes it harder for myself later to have an overview on what I was writing - but ok, it is not likely that I would sit at the computer in Vietnam for such a long time to share all my thoughts, and would rather make it short anyway then.)

PPS: To this Blogging site here. It seems quite nice, but what already bothers me a bit is that every too often it just doesn't want to save..... but as you see, I finally made it.