Adventure to Drawer Studios

Adventure to Drawer Studios

One of the assignments given to me while working here in Hoi An was to take photos of artists. The process of reaching out and discovering talented artists was challenging. However, after a few dead ends, I connected with a great group of local artists and had the pleasure of going to visit several art studios. You can read my other post about this as well.

One of the artists had a studio located just outside of town. This studio was a surprise. Stepping off my motorbike and venturing down the stairs, space opened up to a three-story indoor artist studio. Ever wall and had art hanging. There was even a giant old Russian movie projector used for showing propaganda films!

What was very enjoyable, was that the backdoors were open to some wetlands. From these open doors, the song of frogs and crickets chirping wafted in. You could tell this was a place to make art, to be creative, and unwind.

Đinh Quang Hải is the lucky artist that calls this studio his home. After greeting me, he went back to work busy laying down artistic brush strokes, one after another, as I walked about capturing the moment.

After a bit, I sat next to the artist. With relaxing music playing in the background, we talked for a moment about life, art, and enjoyment. Hải mentioned to me how he was a professional photographer for a while then changed into watercolor paintings and some oil work as well.

Here are some photos of my time with Đinh Quang Hải Overhead, his studio known as “Drawer studios.”

Đinh Quang Hải:
You can find his studio online at

The Hoi An Museum

The Hoi An Museum

If you are motorbiking around the streets of Hoi An or even walking, it’s easy to miss the Hoi An Museum, this unassuming building sits at a busy intersection but gets no attention.

From the outside, it looks like a big government style building. Its design is reminiscent of the Communist design style of big with hard edges. But it is The Quan Yin pagoda house. Inside holds over two thousand years of the history of Hoi An and its culture.

Generally speaking, it has decent exhibits (*tho at times some of the translations are a bit off) and a fair all-around record of Hoi An’s past.

The Floors of The Hoi An Museum:

There is not too much on the first floor, but I assume it some general offices or classrooms? When you proceed up the center staircase, you get to the second floor. Here a guard/ticket takes will instruct you to pay them.

Here is where the more decent exhibits start — the main two chunks of time covered on this floor are the Cham history and trading history — also a somber account of the Vietnam (American) war. From my perspective, as an American, it was interesting to see the other side of the coin. In the history books and our media, we are told one hand, here you are told another side. In all accounts, however, it was an unfortunate war. I feel this was also the strongest point of the museum.

Up another level, and you come to a hodgepodge of things. Floor three includes some old equipment used in everyday life and some old household equipment. You can also find artworks from locals. The highlight of this floor to me was the photography section. It highlights some fantastic images from a local photographer.

Last, you get to the rooftop. Being that the Hoi An Museum is the tallest building in town, a commanding view of the city greets you when you arrive at the top.

Sparrow Thoughts:

While it is a tiny museum, it does provide you with a unique insight into Hoi An’s past. While I may not actively seek to return to see it again, it was worth the cost of admission and an excellent way to eat up 30 – 60 minutes when the day was its hottest.

Ticket cost was 120,000VND (About $5)
The ticket also includes access to four other sites around the area.

Duc gallery : Hoi An : Vietnam

Duc gallery : Hoi An : Vietnam

Duc gallery: 47/10 Tran Hung Dao
Taken on Monday, October 21, 2019
Photographer: Tim Mack /
Duc Bet Can is online at:

About the Duc Bet gallery:

Duc’s motto is:

“Creative, positive thinking artists. Enjoying life and sharing.”

He lives this motto every day, 100%.

I had the pleasure of meeting Duc and spending some time with him and the artists he works with the other day. His zest for life, painting, and making art is, to say the least refreshing!

When I meet up with Duc, he and his crew were hard at work, hanging a new show at a local gallery in Hoi An. While it was only a short handshake with me, they went back to work right away, putting up quite detailed works of art.

The Duc Gallery is about displaying the artworks of freelance artists; they organize art shows and exhibitions, host workshops, assemble group works and create creative collaborations.

The Duc Gallery, from my conversation with them, wants to organize more exhibitions in Hoi An for the local creative’s and bring more international artists from Vietnam and the world to show here.

The Duc Gallery artists also collaborate in gorgeous artworks such as frescoes, mural paintings, artworks for resorts, hotels, and other public spaces.

Duc Gallery Workshops:

In my conversation with the owner “Duc,” the gallery also hosts workshops that are for children in the city. They are starting to as well hold two-hour workshops for tourists, locals, and visiting artists.

Who is Duc form the Duc Gallery?

Duc is a painter who grew up in Hanoi to the south. He moved to Hoi An about six years ago and fell in love with the city. Since moving to Hoi An, Duc is regularly commissioned by numerous resorts, hotels, cafes, and private collectors for unique works.

These are photos of him and his crew hanging the gallery show and pictures of him working on a painting at his home.

Sparrow Thoughts:

If you end up visiting Hoi An and are a fan of art, I recommend you check out Duc’s studio. Tell him the guy with the wired curly mustache says hello.

A walk in a Vietnamese Cemetery

A walk in a Vietnamese Cemetery

Just outside of Hoi An to the south are small back roads. These meandering paths provide plenty of vistas and photo-worthy points to stop and enjoy. They are also the roads I take into my teaching job most days.

A spot that intrigued me is a small cemetery that I frequently drive past. Most times, cows are grazing next to this resting place of the dead. The busy-ish back road that is a highway has motorbikes zipping past. Its quite easy to overlook, however today I stopped and took a walk in a Vietnamese Cemetery.



I am not versed in the traditions and honoring of the dead in Vietnam. Also, my combined time in Vietnamese cemeteries is limited to just this experience for the moment. The opinions and thoughts mused in this article are perhaps under-informed. Furthermore, you should not take them too seriously.


A few things jumped out at me right away. The first is the overgrowth of plants here. Back int he states (America), the majority of cemeteries (or at least those close to lager, smaller cities), are mowed and trimmed. Here I did not get that vibe. It was in a lot of ways, beautiful.

The next thing I took note of was how the majority of all graves were above-ground interment chambers. Chambers like this make sense, however, as it rains a lot, and underground may result in some float away dead.

Pun intended, I thought most cemeteries were sorta a “dead end” streets, which means that it was not a through road, just a gate and the grounds. However, here, the small paths in the cemetery were, in fact, a busy route. At one point, I saw a motorbike driver, stop and urinate on a gravesite. Sure, when you got to go, you got to go, yet to pee on a grave, that to me seemed a bit much — going to chalk this one up to different cultures and different ideas of the dead.

Here are a few more photos of this adventure in a city of the dead. I do intend to walk around a few more cemeteries and compare experiences. Also, it would be nice to have a conversation with a local about traditions and last rights.

I enjoyed this photo of the cows int eh background. 🙂

For this dragon fly as well, it was not dead!

Just so we end on a happy note, here are some other photos I took on the rest of the drive into my work after this layover.

Goats!! Today I was almost run of the road by goats. That made my day for some reason.

This last photo takes my breath away. Them distant mountains. Dam I love it!

Slice of Life - Vietnam part 2

Slice of Life - Vietnam part 2

Vietnam is one crazy place. The best way I can describe it is that perhaps it is like a schoolyard. Sure, a schoolyard – it looks like a bunch of people running around to the untrained eye, but there are schoolyard rules that everyone follows. No one wants to be the one that breaks the rules, but some do, some don’t care. Vietnam is like one big schoolyard with many unspoken rules and unsaid understandings.

Example driving. I know there are driving rules; I know there are methods and ways you should drive… there are operating rules and such… but, I get the feeling more people don’t take the tests, but they all follow these rules. This example is just one of many cases of the unsaid regulations I see here.

Here is another slice of life photo section of images I have taken while living a slice of life here in the big old Vietnam. Let’s dive into these photos and have some fun.

I stumbled across this gem of a building on a back road. It was the only tower of a building. The idea that is said No Ke (like pitch) … Hahaha. I had to stop the motorbike and take a photo of it. Speaking of things I enjoy stoping the bike for… …

Chickens! Well, in this case, a roster. IDK.. just seeing these majestic birds clucking and strutting around makes me happy. Do I want to be a farmer? Hell no… but I like to see chickens. Hmm.. going to have to think about this for a while of why.

The endless roads that t=strech out into fields forever… DAM, I love it.

On the topic of roads, here is a bridge where the middle section of the bridge collapsed, and both sides of the bridge were blocked off, however, the locals just chipped through the blockades, then built this mini bridge over the collapsed part. So smart!

Fishing nets. Just post this here as a teaser… I will be going out to shoot these in the AM when the sun is coming up soon!! Classic and epic. Or at least I hope.

I am also admiring the color of the boats here. The teals and shades they capture, it is tropical and entertaining.

This is AVADACO COFFEE!! WHAT? I know I know, you are like “wtf”. I was too. But Had to try it cause “Wtf”. and well, IT WAS AMAZING! So, if you get the chance, drink it!

Ok, that is just a small update for today. I hope you enjoyed this slice of life post from Hoi An and around.

Faifooink Tattoo - Hoi An - Vietnam

Faifooink Tattoo - Hoi An - Vietnam

Faifooink Tattoo – Hoi An – Vietnam 

It was a rainy day. By rainy day I mean to say it was like a garden hose from heaven is was turned on full, deluging the city of Hoi An. Such rain! It’s the rainy season, and this level of advanced precipitation is average. Or at least that is what they tell me; I think it’s crazy.  

One of the roommates form the Workaway program I am with here, wanted to get a tattoo. Travis (one of the founders of the Workaway program here) told us about a decent shop. With this knowledge in hand, we ventured over to Faifooink Tattoo – Hoi An – Vietnam (Link).

Braving the waterfall of rain outside, we motorbiked to the small shop a few streets over. Upon arriving, there was no one on the ground floor — just an open bar with empty seats. The slick marble floors beckoning for you to slip. *Pro-tip, if your feet are wet, dry them before walking on a marble floor. Following a sign, we made our way up to the second floor of what felt like someone’s home. Upon reaching the top, it was clear that this was someone’s home. 🙂

Meeting the owner 

The artist and shop owner, Mr.Viet, greeted us at the glass door of his studio. Viet has been making body art for a while. About eight years if I remember correctly. He was very laid back and diligent in his work. 

He had met with my roommate the previous day to discuss ideas and the vision for her tattoo. She opted to get a phoenix rising on her side. It was an excellent selection for a work of body art. Phoenix birds have a lot of meaning, such as rebirth, growth, and renewal. I think everyone has a life event they can associate with this. 

The process of putting down ink.

My self, I don’t have any tattoos on me, so the process was intriguing to witness. At first, they give you a paper print of the tattoo to place on your body. After some time fidgeting with it and finding the ideal placement, you hand it back to the artist. 

The artist then does the beautiful line transfer onto some carbon paper. When the illustration is on another type of paper, they cut it out and mark the location on the body you wanted the art. 

With location marked, the artist cleans the area and applies a transfer solution. Like one of them stick on wet tattoos we used as kids, the art gets transferred onto your body. This is the last phase in the process; you can change something before the inking starts. 

With everything set, you lay down, and for the next few hours, you have a little needle poking your skin. Over and over and over again… just when you think you may have had too much, BAM – completed. Congratulations, you now have a new tattoo. 

Sparrow Summary: 

While I am no expert on the process, I have a lot of friends who are into tattoos. Sometimes I too want to get into tattoos. It is from my third-person perspective I say Faifooink Tattoo – Hoi An – Vietnam delivers some quality work at an acceptable price. My roommate is happy with the quality of the work, and it looks beautiful. 

Till next time, Cheers~ 😀

Trung Moto Bike Shop - Hoi An

The Trung Moto Bike Shop, Hoi An, Vietnam

The Trung Moto Bike Shop

Well, about a week back I bought a motorbike here in Hoi An. Its an (I think) a 3-year-old Honda Wave A (Alpha). I did some reading and should have done more. I read one post that said the Alpha version was crap, but I don’t know these things. Perhaps it was just a lousy bike that the author had?

The person selling the Wave A I bought is a friend of the vice president of the English Langue School that hired me. Given this, I just assumed that the bike would be of decent quality, run like a charm, and be a win. 😀 If only things were so easy, right?


I should say that my bike riding experience was limited to one time in Indonesia and then a few days before this zipping around on the OLD Nuvoe motorbike at the place I am staying. Both times these bikes were full automatic transmissions.

Back to the story:

The bike I bought is a Semi-Auto bike, meaning you have four gears you click threw with your left foot. Pro-tip, if you buy a motorbike and you never drove a Semi-auto bike, the place to learn is NOT outside the dealer with people point and laughing as you cant drive a motorcycle. Then teaching you in a dialect, you don’t understand. Lol. Pro-tip two, if you never bought a motorbike, its a lot simpler then a car, but bring along someone that knows about bikes.

Fast forward, I learned how to operate the bike. The VP of the langue school taught me that night on a back street in the Rice Fields. With this knowledge, I picked up the bike the next day and was on my way. The first trip was to the Hidden Mural Village. When I got back from this, I was at the Dingo Deli in Hoi An, when pulling out the breaks snaped. Hahahaha, it’s not funny.

The person I bought the bike from came the next day and fixed it. I was unhappy as the bike was still not working well. I wanted to sell it back to the original person. But, he said he would take it back for less than I bought it.

The Trung Moto Bike Shop

Trung Moto on Face book (here)

Not really loving that idea (In hindsight I should have said yes) I went looking for a bike shop and found one, the Trung Moto Bike Shop. Puling in here was an experience. I was pulling into their shop, a bunch of shirtless guys working on bikes all stopped and looked at me. Like one of the scenes from an old Western film when the stranger walks into the saloon.

The owner, Mr.Trung, waved, finished a conversation then greeted me, we talked in broken English about the bike. He then went to work with skill and efficiency. You could say he was like a Samurai slicing fruit.

Parts came off the bike; parts went on to the bike. He stood up at times and yelled things to the other mechanics, who nodded and drove off for parts. He took off several times on a scooter and came back with parts.

While waiting, I meet another expat, Arnold. Arnold is a 65-year young man covered in tattoos that left a job working state said heling kids with substance abuse. He just got back from Northern Vietnam, where he picked up a MONSTER of an old bike. A bike that Mr.Trung was helping him fix-up.

It looked like it was going to take more than a few moments, so I helped to clean up the shop, and took some photos of the space. I also returned a second time to get some new things fixed, and at the time of writing this, I will be returning for the third time (A new noise developed in my bike).

I also offered to help Mr.Trung get his shop online as he wants to “Awake” The shop again. So I may be back a few more times.

Here are some photos from the shop

Awesum old tires in a pile.  YES!

Wicked vintage bikes just waiting for the right person to come and fix em up.

The starter of my bike all exposed. This was a Major Pain the ass.

More vintage action!

Mr.Trung takeing a break to “pose” for a photo!

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post. 😀

Making a Lantern in Hoi An - Sort of

Making a Lantern in Hoi An (Sort of)

If you have been to the Vietnamese coastal city of Hoi An, you will know its famous for its Lanterns. The abundance of lanterns started as part of a festival to promote good luck. The local people celebrated this festival on every full moon.

After the Vietnamese government opened its borders to additional tourism in or around 1997, Hoi An took off in popularity. Since about 2013, this once sleepy city started to see an even more significant growth of tourism and income. And that is for a good reason; it is beautiful here, and the lanterns add to that in spades!

The Lanterns of Hoi An are made of silk and adorn just about everything. They are in the trees, on the streets, on the art, on shirts, and in shops. It’s no wonder that tourists will want to learn how to make these glowing balls of happiness they see everyplace.



Here to experience culture, my friend Fredrica and I set out to make a lantern the other day.

The Making A Lantern in Hoi An Experience

We all have this Pie in the Sky visions of what something will be like. I thought we would be bending and shaping our lanterns, making Frankstine like creations that would fill us with more respect for the craft. The experience I got was more like a “paint by numbers” art class.


The making a lantern in Hoi An process went like this.

  • Come in and sit down.
  • The shop gives you a pre-made frame.
  • You have a selection of fabric (about six colors to pick from)
  • The shop will then cut the fabric into strips.
  • You will then glue the fabric down on to the frame with duck glue, three stays at a time.
  • The shop will fix any errors in your work.
  • Then you are done.
  • Cost: 120,000 VND.
  • Estimated time about: 30 -45 minutes.

Sparrow thoughts:

Don’t get me wrong; I did have fun making a lantern in Hoi An. I did learn new ideas and can see how to some people that may not be significantly versed in handcrafts; or those out on a date looking for something fun too; this would be a good challenge.

The person who helped us was also just AMAZING. She was very kind and thoughtful. If only for the chance to meet and talk with a local about life, the 120,000 VDN fees are worth it.

While making a Lantern in Hoi An, two other tourists on vacation also joined us. Thye kicked butt too as well. Meeting other people outside of a bar is another good reason to do an experience like this, you meet other exceptional people.

If you are looking for an in-depth lesson on the art of lantern-making, I suggest you search beyond the lantern shops for a class. If you are looking for a lite (*Pun intended) evening activity to spend the night, then I recommend you try one of the classes.

Hoi An Night Market - 10/7/2019

Hoi An Night market - 10/7/2019

Hoi An has a few different faces it shows across the day.

In the early morning, it’s a sleepy face. The streets are quiet, and the occasional dog wanders past. The next look Hoi An shows is when locals start taking coffee. As the eyes of the city open, so does the sights of the town, with the tourist destinations becoming active. As the sun keeps creeping up in the sky, Hoi An puts on her makeup; the markets open up, sales start. Around noon, the heat of the day is crushing motivation, and the town takes a nap. When the sun begins to dip; however, the dinning starts and the streets expand with vendors. After this and into the night, the night market opens and shows its colorful face.

This evening I went out to adventure the roads after dusk to see what sorts of sorts, I could capture with my camera. Some of the highlights of this outing were seeings food vendors and just taking in the faces of the masses as they flowed past.

I don’t think I fully experienced this market and will come back for a second night for sure.

This is either a very band name for a bar or quite a genius name if you consider “The Fountain” by Duchamp ( ). Perhaps they are just very hip?

There were many stalls with frogs on sticks at the Hoi An Night Market. Despite my curiosity, I decided to keep on the vegetarian diet.

There were also a lot more “standard” foods like fresh off the boat (*Like they were taking it off the boat) kinds of seafood.

I watched for a moment, this stall they both seemed very concerned over something, I wanted to go ask them… ” Excuse me, I could not help but notice from over there, that you looked concerned… can you tell me why?” … LOL, I could just imagine how that would go.

There was also an abundance of cute little pups around.

And like strange glowing fruit, lanterns in every tree.

The night market is a special thing and you should experience it too!

Tam Thanh - The Hidden Mural Village of Vietnam

Tam Thanh - The Hidden Mural Village of Vietnam

Tam Thanh – The Hidden Mural Village of Vietnam

Located about 56 km south of Hoi An is the quiet beachside town of Tam Thanh – The Hidden Mural Village of Vietnam. This town was not even on the map for tourists till, in 2016, artists from Koria and Vietnam collaborated to bring art to the wall of this city.

After this collaboration, tourists started to take note of this small city and make the 1 hr drive south from Hoi An to experience the art here. I was being Inspired by raw curiosity myself, and along with a desire to drive a motorbike, the other day, a friend and I set off for Tam Thanh.

The Drive from Hoi An to Tam Thanh

The vision in my mind was a lot of rice fields, small streets, and quaint roads. This vision was far from what the drive is. Directly south of Hoi An is a giant bridge, then a massive water park. After this explosion of new growth, you enter what I call the desolated wastelands.

Sparrow Tip: Make sure your gas is topped off before you leave from Hoi An; in the wastelands, you won’t find much rest.

We drove down along the coastline. While we did drive past some small hamlets, the bulk of the ride was wase treatment plants for miles and then a sprawling cemetery. This cemetery was EPIC. Monuments to the parted scattered in what looks like haphazard orientations, all in white sands. It’s on my list to go back and take some photos of the cemetery here. For this adventure, we were in a rush; as such, we drove on.

Entering Tam Thanh – The Hidden Mural Village of Vietnam

We were looking for a large mural or something to say YOU ARE HERE! But it was a soft entrance into the city. We even had to stop at one point to ask a local if we were on the right path.

But we did arrive. Just note that when you think you are almost at Tam Thanh but not sure, drive a bit more, and you will be there.

We stopped at a large mural and were impressed. It was what looked like a hotel but covered in jellyfish. Next to this were a bunch of the weaved round boats. They were painted to look like the sun, flowers, and more. These made for a tremendous initial impression of the city.

Traveling further into Tam Thanh – The Hidden Mural Village of Vietnam

Jut down the road from where we parted the Wave Alph bike, was the city center proper. Here was what looked like the central art installation. White frames highlighted the picturesque ocean waves, while the blue horizons reached off over the horizon.

We stopped for some photos here; I also ventured to the beach to capture a few pictures of the marvelous looking boats.

While I walked across the sands, I thought of winters snow. If you lived with snow, you know the sound it makes on a cold morning. It’s a squeaking crushing sound. The sand was the same on this hot sand. It just squeaked when I walked on it. So very hot, even at 10 am.

The rest of the city presented small moments of “Oh, this is nice.” Murals were popping out from around a bend. Or from down an alleyway calling you to adventure to see them. We ended up taking many photos of this city. Then as suddenly as we realized we were in the town, we were at the end of it.

Turning around, we walked back through the city to our bike, and with a wave, bid farewell to Tam Thanh – The Hidden Mural Village of Vietnam.

Thought about Tam Thanh – The Hidden Mural Village of Vietnam

It’s a great idea. Art inspires people to see it. Art inspires people to experience moments with it. Tam Thanh is on a progressive track for sure. While the project completed in 2015, the paintings on some walls suffer.

A lot of the murals are well taken care of; others are not so much. Vandalation and time are taking its toll on the art. Construction is growing over some art, and others are getting obscured by growth. The change is life tho and adds to the history of the walls and the art.

I believe, to see this project fully bloom and be a more significant tourist draw, items like maps to find the murals, more significant signs indicating the city, and more art is needed. A lot more art! Like on every wall! Perhaps there are plans for this, maybe not.


Is it worth the hour drive past an endless garden of white sands and cemeteries? I believe so, and I would recommend this adventure to those passing through Central Vietnam.
How to get to Tam Thanh from Hoi An

You have a few options for routes to a from Tam Thanh. Here is a link to Google Maps:

Here is the option we took down Tam Thanh, which was along the coast.

On the way back we went like this:

The way back was much less exciting. I would have opted to do the same coastal route home to see some change in scenery. The way we took home was along a highway. No shade, just a hot road is speeding past underneath us. Around us, not much.

Google does list another way, a little further to the West; I am curious if this would be more through rice fields and provide a nicer rider. Perhaps the next adventure, we will try this route.

Random Notes about this outing.

  • Make sure you fill your gas tank before leaving.
  • Pack a small lunch to take with you.
  • Most shops serve drinks until later in the day. You may be hard-pressed to find a meal.
  • Sun Screen is important.
  • The beaches here look ASTOUNDING, Bring a suit and splash around a bit before heading back home.