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Website 2.0

11 Jul


Check it out here or click on the pictures!

If your copywrite on your website is from 2010… it’s time to update your website. 

If your contact information still has your pager number… it’s time to update your website.

If you are still using *insert old program/host/server here*… it’s time to update your website.

If the sight of your homepage makes you cringe… it’s time to update your website.

If you can’t remember the url… it’s time to update your website.

If you are like me and need a creative kick start every once in a while… it’s time to update your website.

So, that’s what I did. I hope you enjoy the site, it is long over due.

South East Asia 2010

22 Aug

Here is a video from our trip to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Filmed in October 2010, edited this weekend and the start of a new tradition. Enjoy!


South East Asia 2010 from KateHarmon on Vimeo.


Music – Generator 1st Floor, The Free Lance Whales 

“TrekkShopping” with the Hmong Women

31 Dec

Sapa Northern Vietnam

Trekking and shopping are generally two activities I consider mutually exclusive, but for the women of the Hmong and other indigenous tribes in Northern Vietnam, they are as intertwined as the rice paddies are to the mountains.

The mountainous area surrounding the small town of Sapa is a combination of stunning natural landscape, human ingenuity, and deep-seated cultural roots. Set against a backdrop of the tallest mountain in Indochina, the hills have been transformed into hundreds of man-made rice terraces. The vast cultivation of nature’s most beautiful crop upon mountain after mountain was a marvel to my modern world eyes; as was the time and intricacy that goes into the traditional clothing and crafts produced by the tribal women.

We arrived in the crisp early hours of morning and were immediately adopted into a small group of Black Hmong women, who took it upon themselves to stay with us the remainder of our three day stay.

As soon as our bags were dropped off, the women began us on their tour of the little town. They pointed out the sights, steered us clear of over-priced shops, taught us about their clothes and tribes, and were fascinatingly inquisitive and giggly. As the early morning warmed into the afternoon we informed our new girl gang that we needed to prep for that day’s trek. That was precisely the moment we realized that the large woven baskets our new friends carried on their backs were not in fact full of vegetables or whatever sundries we had assumed and simultaneously the moment that we realized we had indeed underestimated “souvenir space” in our packs.

It seems their laborious sales tactics and patience in befriending every customer must have stemmed straight from the lengthy hand-made production process itself.

At a higher altitude, they cultivate hemp and use it to produce their fabrics. Nearer to their homes, neat plots of indigo plants are grown, which to my amusement were not at all blue. After the fabrics are dyed then dried over and over again, they begin the embroidery. The details and attention that go into each garment, pillow case, bag, hat, or blanket is amazing. They also produce hand-made silver which they carve and craft into bracelets and earrings. All Hmong women begin to wear earrings early in life and the size seems to grow with age.

Our group of Hmong women and young girls remained with us until our last day. We trekked over 40 kilometers together as they walked us along the hills sides on narrow ledges of the rice terraces. They took us to their waterfalls and schools. We took turns inquiring about one another’s lives and culture.

We stayed overnight in their village and woke to the same crowing roosters. They even walked with us back into the small town of Sapa on the day of our departure. As we waited for the bus which would take us to the overnight train ride awaiting us, we thought surely our purchasing had come to an end. We made one last attempt to refuse anymore of their hand-made goods by informing them that we were quite honestly out of cash. At which point one of our faithful friends told us “if you don’t have the dough, the ATM is right over there”.

So, a big thank you to our wonderful new friends for your hospitality and care.  We won’t forget the beauty of your homeland and we certainly can never forget learning how to shop while trekking through beautiful Northern Vietnam.

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