Thai Binh Lau, Hue, Vietnam

Thái Bình Lâu (太平樓) is located in the Imperial Citadel in Hue. The building was commissioned by the Nguyen dynasty emperor Khai Dinh and was completed in 1921. It was intended to be a quiet retreat where the emperor could read and rest. The Vietnamese name translates as pacific or peaceful; Thái Bình Dương in Vietnamese is the term for the Pacific Ocean. The Chinese characters 太平 over the door on the building front also mean pacific or peaceful, and 太平洋 is the term for Pacific Ocean in Chinese.


The Stele Pavilion, Tu Duc’s Tomb, Hue, Vietnam

A few tree and shrub species shed their leaves in what passes for winter in central Vietnam. This photo was shot in December of 2018, and I like how the barren trees in the foreground set off the Stele Pavilion in the center of the image. Another shot of the stele close up appears in my previous post. This structure is one of the key buildings in the Tu Duc Mausoleum area. There is a massive stone tablet inside, on which the emperor’s biography is written. Although Tu Duc had many wives, he was also childless; a case of smallpox left him impotent. In the event, the biography inscribed on the stele was written by Tu Duc himself and this was considered a bad omen for the dynasty. After Tu Duc’s death in 1883, the Nguyen throne passed to an adopted son.


The Tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, Hue

The season is right, but this photo of a shrine within the mausoleum’s extensive grounds was actually taken four years ago in 2018 – wow, time flies. The compound where the Nguyen dynasty emperor Tu Duc (1848-1883) was laid to rest is one of several imperial mausoleums surrounding Hue, the only one I have visited to date. I took a series of photos that have been sitting in a file directory ever since. Taking a look now.

Hue was the capital city of the Nguyen dynasty, Vietnam’s final dynasty that came to an end in 1945 when Emperor Bao Dai abdicated. The city is a fascinating place featuring cultural, historical and religious sites, great food, an incomprehensible local dialect, and photo opportunities at every turn. More visits to Hue are in order.


Government House, Annapolis, MD

Annapolis is the capital city of Maryland and home to the US Naval Academy. It is a lovely, manicured, very affluent small city. The Maryland State House, the oldest state capitol building in continuous service in the US (since 1772) was covered in scaffolding while it got a facelift. So I had to make do with this photo of the entrance to Government House, Maryland’s governor’s mansion, located across the street from the State House.

In one of those historical ironies that I very much enjoy, the next resident of Government House will be Maryland Governor-elect, Wes Moore; he will be the state’s first African-American governor. The man who designed Government House, completed in 1870, was named Richard Snowden Andrews, an architect and, during the Civil War, a general in the Confederate States Army. Hope you are rolling over in your grave, traitor.


The Old State House, Boston

I returned to Vietnam last week from a one month visit to the United States, my first trip in three years. It was great to see family and friends in Petaluma, California, Boston and Amherst, Massachusetts, New York City, Baltimore, and the Denver area. That said, and while the US is the country of my birth, I am glad I no longer live there. The United States has too much tension, anxiety, and simmering anger for my taste. Life where I am in Vietnam is a good deal more relaxed and laid back.

Boston’s Old State House served as the seat of the Massachusetts colonial government from 1713 to 1776 and, after the American revolution, was the seat of the state government until 1798. Now hemmed in by office towers in downtown Boston, this national and Boston historic landmark is the city’s oldest surviving public building.


At the Entrance to Ta Prohm

This photo was taken standing just outside of the entrance to the Ta Prohm temple, called the Tomb Raider temple by many because it was a location in the film of that name. Sunlight breaking through the overcast sky provides dramatic lighting for the trees against a background of dark, threatening rain clouds. Angkor Wat and the surrounding countryside are in the middle of the annual rainy season featuring almost daily rain showers, steamy humidity, and enervating heat.

I had a 20mm lens mounted on the camera. I love this lens – another superb piece of equipment by Nikon – but the distortion caused by the very wide angle of the lens limits the situations where it can be used effectively. In this photo, I think the distortion adds tension to the composition and this enhances the already dramatic lighting.


Ruins in the Jungle, Angkor Wat

I visited this small site after walking through Ta Prohm. If there was a sign with the name of the place, I did not take note, and I could not find a likely location searching the maps I have. Beyond the entrance area, it seems that not a great deal has been done to develop or maintain this site; the jungle surrounding the buildings was dense and rather eerie.