Sightings – The Vietnam edition

Going back through old travel photos is always a great way to burn a couple of hours. Long forgotten memories are instantly brought back sharp as day, as the pixels on your computer monitor instantly transport you back to a time and place where you were just that little bit more free and living a little closer to the edge than you do in your day-to-day life. Just re-reading that sentence, I sound like an old man reminiscing on days gone by. But no, these shots are just from 2008. I was barely 20, and it was my first overseas trip – a four week visit to my sister and brother-in-law who were working in Saigon for a year. They got some time off, and we headed all over the countryside and into Cambodia on an odyssey of discovery. Well, at least it was for me.

I had no DSLR or real interest in photography, and Any Given Reason wouldn’t be thought of for another three years. Even though I just bought a cheap Pentax snapshot camera before I departed, taking photos of the cars I saw just seemed natural. I guess the seed was there, even back then. Here are a few of my discoveries.

The Bentley in the lead photo and this Rolls Royce Phantom were both on display at a dealership just around the corner from where my sister was living in Saigon. It was quite funny because they had a strict no photo rule. After being denied, I went back at about 10pm that night, just to discover that the dealership was paying a group of locals to sit outside all night and stop people from taking photos. I managed to snap a few frames before legging it away down the street. Being a tall caucasian does have its advantages sometimes; they didn’t stop me.

I found the juxtaposition of these super-luxury cars in Vietnam fascinating. Here, on one hand is a finely sculpted piece of automotive engineering – the Phantom is as close to perfection as you’ll find. Yet it just looks so out of place driving down a potholed road, street vendors lining the sides and motorbikes whizzing by. It was like a moment of calm in a sea of utter chaos.

The local Suzuki dealership had P.G Andersson’s Super 1600 JWRC Suzuki Swift on display. It was the only racecar I saw for a month, the first time that had happened in a while. Continue reading

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