Elephant No. 23: Hanoi, Vietnam

This particular elephant comes from a special temporary exhibition entitled “Mythical Creatures” at the National Museum of Vietnamese History in Hanoi. We happened by complete coincidence to arrive at the museum on the opening morning of the exhibition – a fact it took us a while to realise as it dawned on us that there were far too many film cameras and tv presenters inside the exhibition for this to be a normal day. Most of the museums on this trip in Asia have been filled with people walking irritatingly slowly through the galleries, painstakingly taking a photo of each object with their smartphones, but not actually looking at the object in question except through their smartphone screen. I have never understood this practice: sure, take a photo of a couple of your favourite exhibits to remember them, but what are you going to do with many hundreds and hundreds of pictures from a museum? I really doubt that you are going to look at them much in the future. What’s more, it prevents you from looking at the objects with your own eyes and anyway many museums have websites with high-quality images of their objects if you really wanted to look at them again after!  (more…)

Make up

I’ve been thinking quite a lot about make up lately, partly as a result of the recent #nomakeupselfie that’s been trending on Facebook. For a start, I wouldn’t usually bring make-up when I’m travelling, unless perhaps it’s a short city break with smart dinners out and the like. But even in my everyday life, I don’t wear a huge amount of make up, especially in the day time.

There’s been quite a lot of controversy about the #nomakeupselfie and rightly so – firstly because some people have been trying to claim that posting such a selfie is ‘courageous’ just like fighting cancer is. This is obviously bullshit, and incredibly belittling to the experiences of those with cancer. Then there’s the people who posted selfies on Facebook ‘for cancer awareness’ with no links or instructions regarding how to donate. As many have pointed out, there’s no shortage of awareness that cancer is a horrible disease, so I found these posts mildly infuriating and thoughtless. (more…)