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Manila Slums, near city center
Slums in Manila, near city center. These structures are inhabited -- ALL OF THEM.
Slums in Manila, near city center. These structures are inhabited -- ALL OF THEM. If you watch long enough, you'll see continual movement inside all of these -- people cooking, washing dishes, petting the dog, having sex, cleaning "house", working on little things to try to sell on the street -- just regular life. Refuse goes out the back doors into the slough along with raw sewage. The stench is memorable. There are vast swaths of all SE Asian countries like this, not just the Philippines. Try to help the people? Try to sit with them and help them figure out ways to make a living? Or, better yet, help them learn a skill of some kind? Give them money to eat? The money will go to alcohol and/or drugs. If you try to explain to them various ways of making money, even on the street, from things they can make or wholesome services they can provide, that will sell better than what they're doing, they won't listen. Try to teach them a real skill? They won't attend the classes and they won't pay attention to you if you're the teacher. The churches have long and vast experience working with these people, yet they bring almost no result. But the tiny smidgen of result they do bring is worlds above the negative result YOU will effect because you don't know what you're doing and will be severely taken advantage of. For my first handful of years in SE Asia I tried volunteering to hundreds upon hundreds of charities. I worked up resumes that explained the skills I had -- I could fly airplanes and helicopters, I had raised 131 shipwrecks off the bottom of the sea, I was trained as an EMT, I had published countless national and international magazine articles and stories, I could train deep sea divers, I could train people to fly, I could teach people to use computers, I had trained wild horses for decades and maybe that could be applied in some weird way, I was a far better than average mechanic -- maybe I could teach that. I was a certified English teacher, so maybe I could teach English. I was a retired or retiring photographer -- I had for years supplemented my regular business photography income with street photography and I had a system that worked even in the USA, so maybe I could teach that to people with no other skills. Hell, I'd even buy them some starter cameras. I had worked for the US Federal government in narcotics -- I wasn't a naive noob in rough crowds. I'd been captain of a rescue tugboat in the Pacific, 321 rescues; I had taught driving of big rigs (18 wheelers). I'd worked for years as a logger (tree faller and machinery operator) and commercial fisherman. I had a skill set. My resume was l-o-n-g and in the very first batch I sent it out to about 325 SE Asian churches and charities. I explained that I had money -- no payment was needed. I didn't want nor require ANYTHING. I just wanted to find a place, a niche, where I could help people like those stuck living in places like these. How many replies did I receive? None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. I thought it must have been a fluke, like the postman had lost my entire batch of outgoing mail. Six months later I began following up through email to all those places, and I sent out a second batch of regular mail to all the same places and a bunch of new ones. I really, really wanted to do this. I waited patiently. How many responses from the second batch? None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Over the years I half heartedly continued submitting requests to help somewhere, somehow. About ten years in, how many replies had I received? None. Not one. Never once. Never one. I did, however, occasionally receive requests to send cash to various charities. They didn't want my skills or my work, my time or my compassion. They only wanted my cash. In the end I gave up and just went out on my own with groups or like-minded human beings and fixed bad situations where fixing was possible -- which amounted to about one or two percent of the horrible situations we found. The rest of it was completely and utterly wasted time. You could say I grew up in SE Asia. I no longer try to help adults -- only hungry children, and I do it on my own time and dime and in my own way.
I was out on a long jetty with a long telephoto on a tripod, shooting the wind surfers and whatnot. When there was a break in the action I swung the camera around to the beach. I don't know why Russian girls do this, but it is ONLY Russian girls. If they see a big camera ANYWHERE, they will do anything and everything necessary to get in front of that lens. My hunch is that they think this is some big time photographer -- National Geographic, or Playboy, or even bigger (there aren't any bigger), and that this is their one chance of a lifetime to get noticed and to make it big as a MOD-EL, and to finally escape the freezing, crappy life they have to go back to in Moscow. I don't KNOW that's their story, but I'd bet a lot of money on it. I've had this happen literally hundreds of times and, again, ONLY with Russian or Soviet bloc girls. They'll hang around and pose and position themselves in every kind of awkward stance -- this one was normal enough but she changed positions for dozens of shots. I used to think it was weird and I would sort of avoid shooting them, because they'll do it right there, blatantly and unashamedly, with their boyfriends, husbands and children present. The husbands pretend not to notice, but they sneak glances every chance they get. Maybe they want out of their lives as well. The girls are usually pretty enough, but nearly never model material. A few times they've tried to strike up conversations but English among Russians in SE Asia is as rare as an Ark in the Sahara. Now that I am not weirded out by this behavior, I just go ahead and shoot the heck out of them. Even the girls sometimes try to pretend they don't see the camera, even as the poses become more and more spectacular (and less and less attractive). I get the impression that many Russian girls don't have much of a life back in Siberia, and they secretly want OUT. Would "I" ever marry one? NEIN! Here's a story. A friend, a Scottish American, loved, loved, loved Russian girls. He married three in three years. Each one took his home (three different homes). Oh! Does that mean they're all bad? NO! OF COURSE NOT! What a ridiculous statement that would be. Absurd.
SE Asian Mamasan, age 68
Pure Thai Gold, each ring = Two Baht (weight). You can bite it and leave a dent. The cost of working up the design is minimal -- a few bucks. You are simply investing in real gold and you can sell it anywhere on any day for that day's gold market price. You are carrying around a bank account. Nearly pure gold, being soft as heck, takes a beating if worn in daily life. When it becomes unrecognizable, you can sell it almost always at a profit, or, you can retire it and swap for a new one, for only a few dollars more. Labor is cheap here. About $9us per day. A factory worker can turn out countless dozens of pieces of gold per day. The value is in the metal. I've committed a sin in this photograph for which I will have to figure out a way to make amends. The dragon is your guardian. The dragon should never be placed upside down except when unavoidable. Would YOU want to be left lying around upside down? It's an insult to the deity that purports to protect you. How rude.
Closeup of Alaska King Crab legs. Naw, it's a cockroach.
in Jomtien, Chonburi, Thailand!