Sa Pa, Vietnam

Sa Pa is the kind of place that’s so beautiful, you have to pay your dues to get there.   Most people travel to Sa Pa on the overnight train from Hanoi.   Which sounds like a great idea: sleep on the way and save a nights lodging but the reality is a bit different.   I’m sure there are people who sleep on the train and arrive fresh at their destination.  I’m not one of them.  With two Ambien and a couple beers, I’m still not one of them.  The train lurches around every corner, stops and starts in fits…it’s like the engineer is napping up front and his five year old kid is driving the train.   And conspiring with the five year old driving the train is the lady hawking snacks.   She seems to know exactly when I’ve just started to drift off because I’ll be jarred awake by her rapping on the door.

 

I stumble off the train at 4am into a sea of touts.  Sleep deprived and unsure of how to get where I’m going, this is exactly how touts want to engage you.  I end up paying three times as much as I should for the hour long van ride to Sa Pa.

 

The folks at the Sa Pa Unique Hotel were awesome.   The let me leave my backpack at the hotel and sent me off hiking to a nearby Hmong village.    I didn’t want to do any trekking tours and the owner of the hotel never pressured me to do a tour and he was great about recommending off the beaten path hikes.   I would hike all morning and never see another traveler.

 

Sa Pa was one of the highlights of the trip for me.  The hiking was incredible and it was one of my favorite early morning market scenes in Vietnam.  A lot of people bitch about the constant selling by the Hmong ladies.  True, the constant “buy something” gets old but I bought a few things off a couple super nice ladies and then would just chat about their lives whenever I saw them around town after that.   They never pestered to be to buy anything after that and I could I just gave a polite “no” to sales pitches after that.

 

All images were shot with the Fuji X-T1 and either the 18mm 2.0 lens or the 35mm 1.4 lens.

 

Unloading the train.

Unloading the train.

Sa Pa, Vietnam.

Sa Pa, Vietnam.

The trekking in the Hmong villages near Sa Pa was pretty incredible.

The trekking in the Hmong villages near Sa Pa was pretty incredible.

A Hmong village near Sa Pa.  I loved meeting locals when I was out hiking.

A Hmong village near Sa Pa. I loved meeting locals when I was out hiking.

trekking in Sa Pa, Vietnam.Travel photography in Vietnam.

Hiking near Sa Pa.

Hiking near Sa Pa.

Hiking between villages in Sa Pa.

Hiking between villages in Sa Pa.

It was mostly foggy and rainy while I was there...which I love.

It was mostly foggy and rainy while I was there…which I love.

The Hmong ladies waiting to sell their wares.

The Hmong ladies waiting to sell their wares.

A couple tourists ensconced by Hmong sales ladies.

A couple tourists ensconced by Hmong sales ladies.

My brother succumbing to the sales pressure. :)

My brother succumbing to the sales pressure. :)

Teenagers are similar the world over.

Teenagers are similar the world over.

Headed to market at dawn in Sa Pa.

Headed to market at dawn in Sa Pa.

Sa Pa market at dawn.

Sa Pa market at dawn.

Market in Sa Pa, Vietnam.

Market in Sa Pa, Vietnam.

At the market in Sa Pa, Vietnam.

At the market in Sa Pa, Vietnam.

Morning market in Sa Pa, Vietnam.

Morning market in Sa Pa, Vietnam.

Rain or shine.

Rain or shine.

Hmong at market in Sapa, Vietnam.

Sa Pa, Vietnam.

Sa Pa, Vietnam.

Posted in Asia

Colorado sunrise

 

 

One of the benefits of jet lag is the ease of getting out the door for a moon lit hike.   Nothing quite as peaceful as hiking in the mountains before the sun comes up.

 

I shot this in the foothills above Golden yesterday morning.

 

Shot with the iPhone 5.

 

 

 

Colorado sunrise photo

Colorado sunrise photo

Posted in Uncategorized

Thailand – Elephant World

I’m starting in reverse. Kanchanabari was the last stop on my travels through SE Asia. It was the perfect place to end my trip: relaxing days with my daughter spent caring for elephants, swimming under waterfalls, and tuk tuk rides through the countryside. And the spiciest Thai food of the trip. Until that bowl of massaman curry, I had no idea that the inside of my ears could sweat.

 
Kanchanabari is a relatively small town town in Central Thailand, just 100 or so kilometers from Bangkok. I ended up there because my daughter loves elephants. There’s no shortage of opportunities to ride elephants in Thailand. The problem is that Thailand is rife with unethical outfits where the elephants are underfed and abused. For the same reason you won’t ever see me at Sea World, I didn’t want to support the same animal abuse in Thailand. But after a little online research, I found an ethical elephant sanctuary about forty kilometers outside Kanchanabari.

 
Elephants World was a blast. The day centered around taking care of the elephants: feeding them, making food for the older elephants who couldn’t forage on their own anymore, and bathing them at the end of the day. I did chuckle at that last part. It was blast to splash around in the river with the elephants but I couldn’t help but think that the elephants would be just fine on the bathing front without our help. It was more of an excuse to play with the elephants in the river and, for those feeling adventuresome, ride an elephant.    I was content to take  pics  but I will be forever grateful that my daughter encouraged me to go for a ride.  It was a highlight of the trip.

 

All images were shot with the Fuji X-T1 and either the 18mm 2.0 lens or the 35mm 1.4 lens.

 

I'd call this love.

I’d call this love.

Elephant World was pretty amazing.

Elephant World was pretty amazing.

elephant photography

A little dirt bath.

A little dirt bath.

photographing elephantsthailand travel photography

My daughter and Johnny the elephant.

My daughter and Johnny the elephant.

Posted in Asia

11th Annual Colorado Space Roundup

 

I always enjoy shooting the Colorado Space Roundup – great people and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science is a beautiful venue and the view from the rooftop deck is amazing.

 

Every time I photograph the Colorado Space Roundup, I come away from it more hopeful about the future of this country.  Being around so many dedicated, intelligent people who are passionate about space exploration never fails to move me about what’s still possible for this country.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tough to beat the Denver Museum of Nature & Science as a venue.

Tough to beat the Denver Museum of Nature & Science as a venue.

Killer view of Denver and the mountains from the museum!

Killer view of Denver and the mountains from the museum!

Denver photographer

Watching one of the speakers.

Watching one of the speakers.

Denver photographer

Break time.

Break time.

Amelia, with High Impact Creative, interviewing Joe Rice.

Amelia, with High Impact Creative, interviewing Joe Rice.

Denver photographer

I love Denver.

I love Denver.

Edgar welcoming General John Hyten.

Edgar welcoming General John Hyten.

General Hyten.

General Hyten.

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Congressional and Senate staff representatives.

Congressional and Senate staff representatives.

The moderator, Mizraim Cordero.

The moderator, Mizraim Cordero.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Union Station, Denver, Colorado

 

The iconic California Zephyr was parked (are trains parked, docked…) at Union Station this evening.  That and the light and the killer symmetry of the new Union Station…had to get a photo of it.

 

I was going to just take the Fuji X-T1 and the 18 and 35 lenses but I’ve shooting more super wide stuff lately so I think I’ll put the Fuji 14mm in my backpack, too.

 

Shot with the Fuji X-T1 and 14mm Fuji lens.

 

 

 

Union Station, Denver

Union Station, Denver

Posted in USA Travel

Grand Tetons National Park

This turned out to be one of my favorite photos from the Grand Tetons and I wouldn’t have gotten it if it weren’t for Meghan. My thought was to shoot this image just after dawn when the rising sun would have lit it all up from the front. But she wanted to check it out in the late afternoon light which turned out to be this awesome side light that made for a very dramatic look. Thanks for getting us back over there for this incredible light, Meghan!    My daughter is one of my greatest teachers…in both photography and in life.

 

This print is available for purchase at: www.buffaloheartimages.com/prints

 

Grand Tetons barn photo

Grand Tetons barn photo

 

Posted in Uncategorized