So long Vietnam. Good morning Cambodia / by Neil Alexander

[caption id="attachment_9162" align="aligncenter" width="455" caption="Tay Ninh Holysee by Neil Alexander"]


[/caption] This trip feels like so long ago now, a dim and distant memory. Well almost.....  From Saigon, we did the 90km 3 hour drive to visit the city of Tay Ninh. Bypass the background, click here. The centre of Caodaism, founded in the early 20th century, is an indigenous faith that includes the teachings of Buddhism, Christianity, Confuciusism and Taosim. The Holysee building itself was built between 1933 and 1955 and is dominated by an "all-seeing eye" at one end of the temple. It was this symbol along with a creed that was handed down to a minor civil servant, Ngo Van Chieu, during a seance in the early 1920s on the island of Phu Quoc which prompted the foundation of the Caodaist religion. The temple itself is an architectural wonder and a mish-mash of styles and brilliant colours amalgamated from the different religions from which the faith is derived. The practioners of the faith adhere to a strict unusual routine of prayer four times daily, and follow a vegetarian diet for 10 days out of every month. Just practicing my travel writing, sorry.

[caption id="attachment_9156" align="aligncenter" width="269" caption="Tay Ninh Holysee by Neil Alexander"]



We arrived around an hour before the noon service was due to start. This gave us some time to scope out the location and get a little preparatory shooting before the main service started. The wardens on site before the service began were extremely friendly and actively encouraged us to photograph the temple and themselves, which of course we did (You don't have to ask me twice to stick a camera in your face!). Then shortly before noon the tourists started to pour in and fill the upper balcony. This was my cue to head up there and stake out a spot for my tripod. On the stroke of 12 the service began, and a hush descended over the place, interrupted only by the occassional click of a shutter. After around 30 minutes, the majority of the tourists had rather ignorantly and noisily made their way out, bored. This left us with freedom to move around, and luckily for us the service was extended by another 45 minutes for a funeral.

[caption id="attachment_9152" align="aligncenter" width="455" caption="Vietnamese man on bicycle by Neil Alexander"]



After a very brief stop at the Cu-Chi tunnels, we headed back to Saigon with a view to catching a sunset on the way. As it turned out, the area we were in as the sun set was pretty unspectacular. So as we had a little time, I decided to experiment with some motorbikes. My idea was to try a panning shot of a biker or two with the setting sun, or set sun in the background. I initially experimented with just ambient light, but very quickly realized that a flash would assist me better. I popped an Sb900 on camera, set the camera on rear curtain sync, full TTL and slowed down to about 1/60, camera on manual. More success came slowing down to 1/30 and cutting the flash a 1/3 or 2, but with hindsight I could have tried even slower, even panning on a tripod, or even front curtain, but hey the sun only sets for so long and I was having such fun with the passing families. Bar this one old dude, who I think I nearly scared half to death (it was quite dark by this time), everyone that passed smiled, waved, gave a victory sun or just laughed. It was great interacting with these fleeting moments for just a fraction of a second.