Where’s home and what’s important?

In 2017 I spent more than 50 days in Thailand, four weeks in Viet Nam and over a month in Japan.  If that’s not all, I had a few long weekend trips sleeping in the wilderness and visiting nearby folks.  During my times away from my house I frequently asked myself “where is home”?  I really don’t have the answer for it.  A luxurious Le Meriden hotel where I get up in the morning and roll down to the lobby for a buffet breakfast?  Or a wimpy tent that gives me a false sense of shelter in the middle of the Sierra?  In November I managed to travel in Japan for work and visiting Viet Nam with a carry on duffel bag.

And within that trip, I realized I do not need a whole lot to live on.  A few set of clothes were all I needed.  Going into 2018, I started going through my [stuff] and to my surprise, I’ve collected way more than I need.

My crutches reminded me to be thankful for still having all my limbs intact.



I was once an athlete or at least I tried.  I missed those long days on the bike saddle.  I tried so hard to prove to myself I can do something outside of my comfort zone.



I thought I would dive in every part of the planet earth so I geared up but that ONE DAY never came.  I used these fins once over 5 years ago.



I thought I would be someone else by wearing brand names but I was wrong.  These days a $20 pair of jeans are good enough.



I turned an empty room into a guest room  and filled it with [things].  The room hosted 3 over night guests, none of them were my guests.



I love the sound of the piano but it is not the same of playing it.



Going through everything I own gave me a new perspective in life,  gave me a chance to purge what is not important and distraction so that I can focus more on the important things around me.



Claiming Human Right

This is San Jose! These images are no more than 5 miles radius from my house. What has San Jose becoming?

Over the last 8 years since I first moved in the area had transformed quite a bit. More houses are being built. More homeless are found along my once favorite running trail. More burglaries. More trailers and sleeper van come and gone. Changes are part of life – some are good while others are not so much. We all have to pivot or persevere accordingly to cope.

For this project I focus mostly on homelessness side of the change and the housing inequality in the Bay Area. Both of these matters are also part of The Universal Declarations of Human Rights. Article 25 stated:

  1. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
  2. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.


***This assignment will be displayed at Foothill College***

From NPR: A recent Homeless Population Rises, Driven By West Coast Affordable-Housing Crisis

Autumn in Japan


This year I got to experience the full spectrum of autumn.  First was the high eastern Sierra in October and then Fujinomiya, Japan in late November for work.

Though at the tail end of autumn, I am quite lucky there are still of foliage left.  The view from my 12th floor on my first day in Shinjuku before heading out to Fujinomiya was spectacular with Mt Fuji in the background and a park fills with red, yellow and orange.

As the name implies, Fujinomiya locates very close to Mt Fuji.  I can drive from my hotel to 5th station (highest parking lot to hike) in about one hour.  Fujinomiya is a sleepy little town.  Most shops and restaurants close by the time I get off work.  The people seem nice even though I don’t understand them most of the time.

I use translation app a lot to get around, read menu and communicate with the customers.  There are days I hardly speak a word.  Despite my lack of communication skill I manage to eat well and get around safely and see many beautiful places on the weekend.  The mountains, lakes and ocean are very beautiful.  I’d love to go back here during climbing season and try to make the summit.

Until next time, happy travel!


For more photos and video:



Studio Still Life



My photography professor once told me “one of the keys to success is patience and another is preparation.” And it’s true for everything we do in life. Below is nothing but a white cube made out of a 4×4 wood painted in white. But creating a perfect isometric view with different shade of light on all 3 facets required a lot of patience, planning and the ability of imaging the end results.











Mt Umunhum road cycling

Mt Umunhum is finally open.  I believed it was a military base at some point.  The view from the summit is spectacular.  One side is the valley and the other side is the ocean (on a clear day).

The ride up to the summit is definitely challenging, not a beginner ride.  There is a whole network of trail below the summit that you can check out.  Definitely worth a visit.


Autumn in Eastern Sierra


The drive to the eastern sierra is definitely long but very scenic.  You’ll be rewarded with so many photo stops along the way that it did not feel like driving.  Growing up in Saigon there were only wet and dry seasons. And in the Bay Area autumn is quite subtle. I hardly notice that it’s here.


By far it is my favorite time of the year. I love everything about it. Just simply beautiful.  Mammoth Lakes is a small town and unlike the Bay Area, everyone here seems very relax.  No one was in a hurry.  You can actually sit and enjoy your morning coffee.


The first few steps with a heavy bag weren’t easy.  But once things we found along the trail started taking over, we just forgot how much weight we were carrying.  It was a tough choice between the PCT and the River trail.  Some locals suggested to take the River trail out and come back on the PCT. So we did. Both are equally stunning.

The temperature over night was below zero. Water left outside was frozen. It was cold.  But when the sun came out, I could feel its warmth.  As we sat there enjoying our freshly brewed coffee and taking in the morning view, I realized we know very little about California.  We barely scratched its surface.


Complete trip photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/duclephotography/36874219304/in/album-72157686844672571/


Desolation Wilderness


I hardly noticed the existence of summer this year.  It came and went while I tried to battle my jet lag and adjusting myself between countries.  Summer by definition is backpacking, long bike ride to the coast and climb a mountain.  I got none of those activity in.


Luckily in California I can stretch summer out a little longer.  I have been wanting to backpack in the Desolation Wilderness for quite some time now but never got around to do it.  It requires a bit of planning and obtaining wilderness permit.  And that does not taken coordinating with others if I want company into account.  That part seems a lot harder then obtaining a permit itself.


Over the year I am comfortable with adventuring out alone including spending days in the wilderness.  Lack of company doesn’t bother me much.  Perhaps it bothers me more if there’s one.  I came to realize that if you want to something in life, just go get it.  Otherwise nothing will ever happen if you wait for others.


There are pros and cons for doing things solo.  I, sometimes, could use an extra pair of hands – but I manage to improvise.  I might have to carry more load for going solo but sometimes the thoughts are more heavy.  I can travel at my own pace and take as many photos as I fancy.  No one there to hurry or slow me down.

All in all, Velma lakes are pretty awesome and easy to get to.  Well about 4-5 miles hike with ~1,800-2,000 ft of elevation gain on the way in.  From there if you pack enough food, there are a lot more to explore.

Happy camping.  More photos are here https://www.flickr.com/photos/duclephotography/albums/72157685114899081/with/36673292916/



Ancient temples


Sunrise on the back of Angkor Wat

At 4.30am, the ticket office was full of people.  I thought I was early but there were so many people in front of me.  The advantage of travelling alone is that I was in and out in 15 minutes.  The ticket purchasing process was not all that bad but if you’re in a big group, it can be awhile.


After 2 temples, my legs were tiring.  It was hard to appreciate the beauty around when tiring and surrounded with a lot of people.  Until now processing all these photos again, I realized how beautiful this place is.  I thought Ayutthaya was big.  This area is a lot bigger.






I find these trees wrapping are amazing.


Something just can’t be described in words.  These settings are surreal.


Coffee and endurance ride

Beginning this year embarked on a new adventure – introducing fresh roast Vietnamese coffee beans to the USA.  It is and will be a long, hard road ahead but I think it worth a try.  I think Vietnamese coffee has a lot of offer.  It is just a matter of finding and cultivating the right source.

I had brought back a small amount and been roasting in my garage.  Over this past weekend I was invited to spectate the 33rd Fireworks Endurance Ride (horse event) in Santa Cruz.  To contribute to my free entry, I brought along with me fresh roasted beans 2 days before and a couple sets of pour over to serve the horse community in the morning.  It was a great turn out and gave me more fuel to continue.

For more information about the coffee, please visit