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Entries in Saigon (2)


Labor to eat

Cash For Trash


Saigon, wandering and sitting in markets, pagodas, mosques, enjoying Indian and mutton curries, Italian lasagna, clean green salads after simple street food up north.

Images and serenity inside places of repose and spirit. 

At night across the street is live music and carnivals as Saigon hosts the Asian Games. I made images of Iraqi and Chinese kick boxers practicing at night, in the dark, shielded by the moon. Gaping residents pause and watch men and women punch and kick their training partners. Images will follow after editing.

Saigon (young, vibrant) is a complete delight after the hush of conservative Ha Noi (old, dull). Up north I lived in a normal neighborhood away from backpackers and neon for five months. I had a table, palm tree and balcony.

I'd sat in the Old Quarter for two weeks after Indonesia, more like Amnesia, then moved into a room in a house in a family compound. Dogs, yelling crying babies, construction workers, a "service" girl working the construction laborers under the cover of night, taking care of their desire, relieving them of cash. 

Here it's a different reality. Or, as the popular t-shirt says, "Same-same. But different."

I am in the heart of darkness. After sunset all the predators are out. Many are wearing stiletto high heels.

Are you the hunter or the prey?

On the street of dreams. Cheap digs, variety of food joints ranging from street eats to places with tablecloths. Plenty of foreign tourists moving through on a quick three day visit before taking the boat or bus to Cambodia. They move in tribes carrying worn guide books, wearing out thin soled flip flops. They are having an adventure.

They are gathering memories of weight and language and humid heat. Some of them look distraught, lost, angry, hungry and confused, just like people they know and love. Some older ones are long time residents. Their faces and posture are one step from the morgue. They struggle forward searching for who knows what.

Only The Shadow Knows!

Two visions in Ha Noi along the road to the airport. A confidant looking man walking near a lake tripped on cracked broken tile, didn't break his stride, eyes straight ahead - don't lose face - stoic, passive, marching.

A young girl, maybe 10, sat slumped against a blue stone crevice. She held a small box with something to sell. Her eyes held all the secrets of the world. Where is her family? Will a neighbor woman or a kind person extend their hand, open their heart? Is this suffering her destiny?

One child among millions in the world. 




Spooky Veil Night


I am now in Saigon or HCMC which is short for Ho Chi Minh City. An old name and a new name. One door closes and one door opens. But, as they say, "the hallways can be a bitch."

The last time I was in Saigon I was on my way out, over the pond to what we called, "The World."

I've been on the ground for 24 hours. My initial feeling is that it's more relaxed, open and looser than the conservative north. A most pleasant exchange after 4.5 months. Attitudes, life styles and progressive vibrancy.

As usual, up and out early. I spent the morning sitting in the Cho Lon Chinese marketplace in throbbing mercantile zones near sewage, garbage, vegetable sellers, screaming motorcycles carrying precarious precious loads of everything from food to towering stacks of plastic sandals, wholesalers, hustlers, beggars, thieves and market women who, after the initial suspicious glance or stare thinking "what in the hell is that guy doing here?" they went on about their daily business of haggling, selling, gossiping, cooking, scheming, dealing, and living.

Then, I wandered down no-name streets and found large Chinese pagodas where I lit incense, made offerings, scribbled notes and focused on creating photo magic. Delightful.