Thursday, October 23, 2008

Oct 23

Now my trip to Viet Nam is coming to an end quickly. I haven't become complacent about all the wonderful stuff to see but maybe less amazed. The last few days have been a little more relaxed and given me a chance to catch up on some admin stuff as well as doing some shopping. My friends here are taken care of me in gold medal fashion which is just wonderful. A couple of nights ago Cuong, his wife To Lan and another sculptor that I met at a theatre performance at her art cafe went out for dinner and then on to a night club, The Acoustic Cafe. That was a great time and at the end of the night they even encouraged me to get up on stage and sing a song. The music was mostly older rock and roll, they even played Rockin All Over the World, a song I think was recorded first by Status Quo back in the 60's.

I spent an hour one day getting a light for my sculpture "Ice Wood and Fire" and then about 5 hours looking for oil to finish the sculpture I made here. I was really surprized that in about 100 paint stores etc no one had oil, Danish, tung, Swedish, Linseed or any other kind. I can go into the small hardware store in Sundre and choose from about 30-40 different kinds I would guess. Every place tried to convince me that laquer, shellac, epoxy, alkyd paint or something else. I guess they just don't use oil to finish wood here. Just when we were ready (Phuong helped me all day to try and find oil so it was not a communication thing that was the problem) to give up I saw another shop where I thought they might have it, as Phuong was explaining what I was looking for I was scanning the shelves and saw three lonely cans of tung oil at the back of a shelf. They were tinted which I didn't want but I took the lightest colored one as I thought I might never see another can of oil here. Today I returned to the studio, the tinted oil looks great on my sculpture, tommorrow I will do a few more little finishing touches and it will be complete and ready for exhibit. I will also do a few touch ups to Ice, Wood and Fire and my art work will be finished, I expect by noon or so I can come back and start packing and do a little shopping.

I leave at 3pm or so on Saturday and after 18 hours traveling arrive in Calgary at the same time on the same day! I get that day twice. I have been keeping a list of names that I think are interesting on the motorbikes, I mentioned some in an earlier post. Here are a few more, there is so much going on when driving through the streets that it is impossible to take it all in. Here in Viet Nam there is a big movement to learn english and although the grammar is not correct in a lot of cases the spirit of the message is understandable and in some cases humorous. So, motor bike names include; Smart Mover, Urban Sporty Mover, Splendid Mover, Successful Mover, Revolutionary Commuter, Advanced ; model I noticed has this slogan below the model name "The best function and good Sensation" Similar interesting interpretations of english are everywhere; on menus, hotel directories, store and shop names etc. Every Vietnamese person that bump into is eager and happy to practice thier english with me, conversations are difficult but fun. The other morning I needed some matches as I had used all of mine, I went down to the lobby to get some and the conversation went almost exactly like this.
Morton: Could I get some matches
Receptionist: Don't you have any matches?
Morton: No
Receptionist: What happened to your matches?
Morton: I used them, they are burnt up.
Receptionist: They are burnt!!!! How did that happen?
Morton: I was lighting my cigars
Receptionist: You should not be smoking in bed.
Morton: I wasn't smoking in bed, I was just lighting my cigar.
Receptionist: We cannot give you another matches, we don't have one. Maybe we can get you one from another room later today.
Morton: Maybe you could get me a lighter? .........At about this time I realized that matches and matress sound very similar. Through sign language and speaking slowly I explained that I wanted matches not a new mattress. She caught my drift and we had a big laugh.

Here are a few more pictures from the last couple of days.

I have been away from the studio for a couple of days, everything has changed there. Earlier this week they were casting a series of fiberglass sculptures that will be used in universities and art schools for study of the human figure, now they are working on reliefs made from sheet metals. Chien has moved on to another model for his exhibit in Nov. that will obviously be a complimentary piece to the one that he was working on last week. There is so much going on there that I could just sit and watch all day, so much to learn from these guys. We have a ball everyday.
In the nicer night clubs the unrinals are filled with ice. I don't know the reason for that but it is interesting and kind of fun as you can watch the ice melt as you do "your business". In the disco in Vung Tao it was big solid blocks.

Hoang, To Lan, To, Cuong and I at the Acoustic Cafe. Had a really nice time there. I noticed a few times now that when the band stops everyone leaves,that's it for the night. Not like they leave in Canada, it happens instantly, like there is a stampede for the door. It is just the way it is here, five minutes after the band stops the place is literaly empty. I find myself watching the exodus and then sitting there with the staff looking at me wondering what the hell I'm doing, still there.

Of course Hoang had her pic taken with my hat on. She is a lot of fun as most artists are, has her own art cafe in HCMC, I attended a theatre performance there last week by a Swedish, Danish and Norwegian group of artists. It was a thought invoking performance that spoke to the international ties we all now have, no choices about that in this day and age.

At lunch time the other day my company was amazed that I ordered coffee, just not the right time of day for that and I guess just considered wierd in this culture. Well.......I got looking at the menu and figured it had some unusual items on it, so I had to take a picture. Items 1,3,4 and 5 might raise some eyelids at home but they are just ordinary fair here. I haven't seen so much of this in the tourist areas of HCMC. Really glad that I am spending my time with local friends, I think I might be getting more of a taste of the real culture here than some other tourists.


Debbie Doo said...

I absolutely love the fact that everyone wants to wear your hat. Your Blog has been just fascinating this summer/fall. I hope you will continue to update it as you can.

Nina said...

Hi Morton, I am Cuong's friend and he sent me this website. I really enjoyed reading your blogs. I saw the photo of the toilet bowl filled with ice. It's pretty clever whoever thought of this. Since there is no water to flush each time, the ice will slowly work as flushing water and take away the odor. Very smart idea!