Colour

Phnom Penh: Shopfront and Streetlife study

Yesterday was pretty good. Gritty roads from the airport to civilisation were relieved by a tidy street of evening smell and colour. And I ate a frog.

I can't stay at a hotel for more than one night, so I've already booked in another, just to taste it. And I'm going to torture a man.

This chap. I've commissioned him, for life, to show me every street and shop in Phnom Penh.

This is his tuk-tuk and it is essentially a slow motorbike with a cabin on the back. 

But first we have to stop at the local fountain to pinch some water for his radiator.

Hey, look - they stole our Queen.

And they have angled car parking bays, like us, too.

You hear a lot about The French Architectural style here because of history and things like that, which means when you build a new building you are forced to quote 'the local vernacular' which is probably what this building is doing.

And the outcome is good. Someone built a sponge cake and then a proper patissiere has sculptured and decorated it afterwards.

OK, we're getting more shoppy now. I took this photo because I thought 'Ha! Elephant!'.

Only later did I read it more closely.

French vernacular.

I should definitely leave the food photography to the experts, but I want to develop a pathology of photographing everything I eat, like the wrongly-accused savant caught with a murder weapon in his barn, brought to us by Midsomer Barnaby.

Moving on, Mr Tuk-tuk.

Pyjama ladies 1 & 2.

Due to the horrific, international oppression of men, only women are allowed to wear comfortable and colourful clothes to work.

 

End of Part 2

Here's a tip. Wherever you are, ask to be shown the embassy precinct.

Here you'll always find the best residential architecture.

If you're a diplomat you're always going to justify being in the part of town where people don't hack your arm off with a rusty KA-BAR.

And because you're 1,500 miles away from the taxpayer who is funding your party, you can always pretend that you are.

So if you get a chance to go to a party with Barack Obama and U2's Bonobo and advance your career in media and politics, put your hand up for this important, diplomatic work.

If it's a funeral for Nelson Mandela - even better. You'll be under no pressure to politically perform for your country so you can just get drunk and slip Oprah Winfrey your business card.

Perfect.

Go backwards to Part 1

Another Stunning Hanoian Streetscene

I have written earlier about my attraction to this city and these types of scenes.  I am still wrestling with the simple words that explain why.

Building widths, from left to right: 2.89m, 2.37m 2.41m, 3.04m (9'6", 7'9", 7'10", 10')

I think it's interesting how colours are all from the same palette.  They're similar, but different.

Worth noting that texture and materials play a role, I think.  Paint (not sure what sort it is) on plaster gives this sensational finish.

All good, but perhaps unrealstic to replicate in my city?  Mainteance costs (plaster!) can be a killer.

Above: Nguyen Sieu, Hanoi, Vietnam.

Below: To the far left of the picture you can see a side-by-side comparison of the new vs the old.

Stunning French Buildings?

I have been racking my brain, trying to work out what it is within this city that I respond to so strongly.  I think I am going to create some new categories to help me:

  • residential,
  • colour,
  • architecture (or something) and
  • decoration.

We all argue about quaint or quirky villages, and we'd probably both agree that Hanoi has this appeal - I mean, just look at it.

But what is it exactly?  We want to replicate, and not waste time with junky buildings, so what is it about these that is so fantastic?

I have already created a skinny column, so you can check that out.

I just want to post these, and I'm sure I'll work out what the magic charm is soon.

In the meantime, I distill it to this:

  • Colour - and the right colours.  Unfortunately, beautiful patina requires an age to appear (or does it?)
  • Shape/Form/Decoration/Texture:  Buildings have hundreds of shapes.  For some reason, some cities shows off thousand of edges and walls and window sills and forms.  We all know a huge clunky building has one massive wall and a little bit more.

I guess I am appreciating 'detail' but I want to find out the detail of the detail.