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Hoi An-Meeting Randy the Cali Copier and the Photo Tour

Yesterday, I awoke early and went for a walk. i didn't have much to do until 3:00 pm, when I had a photo tour planned, so i walked around the town again, past all the various restaurants, tailor stores, and the like. I crossed a bridge on to Cam Am Island, got a great message which cost $5.00, and found a bookstore called Randy's Book Exchange. This bookstore had been listed in Lonely Planet as recommended.

I entered the bookstore, which looked more like a cottage, and a bearded 60ish man who sounded like he was from the US appeared. He actually said "Wow...a customer!" We talked for a while. I found out Randy (I guess he was Randy), was from Southern California, but retired to Vietnam 12 years ago, and bought his cottage for $15,000, and put about that much into repairs-so for $30,000 he had a Key West style cottage in the tropics. He mentioned that it has been easy to live here, and he has had a tourist visa for 12 years. He was able to live on his $700 monthly social security check just fine in Vietnam, He had a phone call, so he excused himself, and told me the English books we're upstairs. I told myself that since I liked the guy, now I have to buy something.


I walked upstairs and looked at the books, and found out that they we're pretty much all Xerox copies of actual books, with a colored cover and black-and-white pages, and this included Lonely Planet guides. So the Lonely Planet was promoting a shop that seemed to be illegally copying it's own materials
I didn't feel like paying $6-7 for something that is sort of fake, so I left.

I walked back into town and faced the crowds-and there we're bigger crowds today, as the Voyager of the Seas was in port, and hundreds of Americans and Brits it seems descended.


At 3:00 that day, I had an afternoon and evening photo tour. i have never been on a photo tour-so I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know where I would be with respect to others on the tour, or if there we're any others.

It turns out that there we're 4 of us on the tour (which was $45), An Australian Mom and her 15 year old son (she was just accompanying him), a 20ish woman from Singapore and myself. The tour guide lived here for about 12 years, and did professional photography.
He put is in a van, and we drove out to the surrounding fields, where we took photos of workers in the light. He told us the best way to photograph workers, and how to use the light to our advantage. He went into a river and I followed him, where workers we're digging out clams. When I went in, I found out quickly the thick mud went up to my knees, and I had trouble getting out. I think he was impressed I was the only one who followed him into the river.

He taught us how to speak to people, so they would let us take their picture. He knew everyone around, it seemed, as he did there tours every day, so we took a lot of pictures.

We all had a beer at a cafe (Except the 15 year old), and then went into town, and he told us about panning, for night shots.

It wasn't rocket science, but I learned a lot, and got some new insight. It was a worthwhile afternoon.

I walked back around and had dinner downtown, by the night market, and then went back to the hostel and went to bed early.


Posted by DavidPearlman 17:04 Archived in Vietnam

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