After a day on the river I took it easy and just strolled around the center of Ho Chi Minh City. I am becoming more accustomed to the continuous stream of motorcycles going by and can now cross the street without praying for a quick and painless death. The market was fun to wander through, but honestly, you can buy the same things in Hong Kong for pretty much the same price. So I just picked up several pounds of coffee and candies for friends back home. Well, the coffee was for me. Coffee in HK is very expensive. Not like in Vietnam where I can buy a kilo of Blue Mountain for US$4. I also picked up a a Vietnamese coffee maker (a sieve) so I can continue my iced coffee habit. There are worse things I could have cravings for, so I’ll indulge myself guilt free. After shopping and drinking fresh coconut milk I headed to the park for a rest. The park is well maintained and well landscaped. This tree caught my eye. I don’t know what it is called, but it’s similar to a banyan. The tree is composed of separated roots, like it was standing on hundreds of skinny stilts. I drew quickly as it was becoming very muggy and I began to stick to the paper as I drew. This is a sign of things to come when the weather gets hotter and wetter in Hong Kong.
After the park I went for some air conditioning in the National Art Museum. The building was built in colonial French style with blue ceramic columns and an ocher facade. It was not air conditioned inside. They did have fans in some rooms to stir the air, but I didn’t see much hope for the oil and watercolor paintings that hung wilting on the walls. The art all had the same theme: war is bad, communism is good. The skill level of the artists was not very high, but I guess when you’re being shot at you don’t have time to develop your technique. It is interesting though that communist art looks the similar the world over. The only difference I can see between the USSR, China and Vietnamese Communist art is the background and skin color. Otherwise it all seems to have the same poses, lighting and theme. Only the war art had an individual style and strong emotional quality (other than to glorify the state).