Tag Archive for history

#POTW HCMC Museum

This Photo of the Week (POTW) comes from the Ho Chi Minh City Museum. It seems most tourists either arrive in Hanoi or HCMC, and travel to the other city. Everyone I met was either going south to north, or north to south. There seems to be an itinerary that most people follow, almost religiously and it includes Da Lat, Ho An, Nha Trang, Ha Long Bay, etc, but mostly keeping out of HCMC. However, I hung out in HCMC and had my own fun. A lot of people I met on the tourist path said that they were so glad to get out of the hustle and bustle of HCMC, but I didn’t mind being there at all. There are plenty of things to see and experience.

One such place that is unhurried, relatively empty, a place out of the rain, really cheap (entry is about 75 US cents or 15,000VNM Dong) is the HCMC Museum. It is the former Vice President’s palace of South Vietnam. Construction completed in 1890 and originally known as Gia Long Palace, it became the residence of the Cochinchina Governor when under French rule (Wikipedia). During the South Vietnam era, it became the Vice President’s palace when the president built something even grander than this (now known as Independence Palace). Gia Long Palace is very grand, very elaborate, and it’s a proper mansion. Far more than what you’d expect the vice president of any country would get, let alone a newly independent former French colony. The entrance way is so grand, that today wedding photographers have a standardised course, images, and a routined array of angles for photographing newly weds. The rooms are so large that most are bigger than my entire apartment. And there’s even a bunker and escape route too connecting to the Independence Palace. Not that it helped in the end. What is really worth seeing, though, is history as told by the winners. It is their history, experienced, written and told by them. The perspective is really different. The building itself has not been well maintained, and so there are walls with paint flakes missing. The former South-Vietnamese Air Force jet fighters on display outside are in serious disrepair, even for display items. Cars out back need renovating, too. However, it is an escape from the city, and something worth experiencing.

This photo, and others like it will be available for licensing very soon at my agent’s portfolio (Asia Photo Connection), and my PhotoShelter portfolio at the Vietnam gallery, and Hieu’s gallery.

A young lady exploring the Ho Chi Minh City Museum (former Vice Presidential palace). Model: Hieu.

A young lady exploring the Ho Chi Minh City Museum (former Vice Presidential palace). Model: Hieu.

On this day Edo was renamed Tokyo

On the 3rd September 1868 the de-facto capital of Japan, Edo, was renamed “Tokyo”. At that time, Edo was already the cultural and political centre of Japan under the Tokugawa shogunate (Wikipedia: Edo), and so it only made sense to the Japanese at that time to move the emperor from Kyoto to Tokyo. In case you haven’t noticed, the Roman-spelling similarities between Kyoto and Tokyo, let me explain. “Kyoto” in Chinese characters is 京都, as in ‘kyo’ and ‘to’; and Tokyo is 東京, as in ‘to’ 東 and ‘kyo’ 京. Whilst ‘kyo’ is the same character, ‘to’ is the same pronunciation of two different characters. The Kyoto ‘to’ is a historical hangover from it’s early name, ‘kyo-no-miyako’ (京の都), which means ‘capital city’, but has since been shortened (Wikipedia: Kyoto).

As for photos… how can I say this? In all the years I’ve lived in Japan, I’ve never visited Tokyo (update 2016, I have now). I’ve been to Fukuoka, Kyoto (lots), Osaka, Nara, Fukui, Shirakawa, Takayama (of course you know these places), but not Tokyo. So, this photo represents the closest connection I have with Tokyo, an airplane-window view of downtown Tokyo and Tokyo Bay (Google Maps). Thanks to JapanThis on twitter for alerting me to this.

See this photo gallery of Tokyo, and this Tokyo blog posts tag.


View of Tokyo & Tokyo Bay on a flight to Nagoya.



A young Japanese lady at Sensoji Temple, Tokyo. Note Tokyo Sky Tree in the background.

Japanese Attack Anniversary

I happen to be visiting Australia this month, and today, I happen to have gone out to a small airfield in Temora, in country New South Wales. Temora was a major training base in the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS) during World War II. At its peak, it was home to upto 94 Tiger Moth trainer planes, and over 2,000 student pilots passed through. Today, it is an ‘aviation park’ for hobbyists, and the home of the Temora Aviation Museum. During the aerial displays and fly-pasts an interesting fact was pointed out, that the 19th of February, 1942, was the very first time the Japanese military attacked the Australian mainland (see the ANZAC Day history website).

So, to commemorate the day I was lucky enough to photograph a Curtis P40 Kittyhawk, which became the main fighter aircraft in the Pacific in b0th the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the United States Army Air Force (USAAF). Also below is the key founder of the Temora Aviation Musuem David Lowry AM, who flew the Supermarine Spitfire Mk.VIII (pictured behind him). These photos need to be processed on my main computer when I get back home to Japan, which will be early March, following which they should be available on my PhotoShelter account by mid-March (2011).