Closer To Heaven.

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…thoughts on South-East-Asian feelings. This is an insight of what happens in my head behind the thousands of pictures I take, and furthermore, what probably happened in the heads of the faces I captured.  
You got to look at everything several times. A frozen face can change into a heavenly smile after 4 seconds; the biggest smile can change into emptiness. A feeling of comfort can change into something totally lost and inappropriate, beauty can turn into an ugly truth, and moments of despair could change quickly to an unforgettable discovery.
This is what everything is about in this part of the world, there’s never one side, there’s never ONE picture. It’s about the ambiguity of being so much closer to heaven here. In both ways. Always. The enlightenment that blinds you by its beauty and the darkening that just dives you into hopeless black.

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ngan bus

… seconds to change a mood. I’m standing on that street. Amazed, fascinated by everything that’s surrounding me, everything that’s floating around me, in and out of my head. Lights, noise, beauty. Reality?
I look at my friend, I give her a big smile, I share my happiness. I turn my head and find myself eye and eye to a bus driver. He’s just coming right up to me. Caught in all that amazement I forgot to get back on the sidewalk, I am stuck on the street, the place where war is still on-going, where everyone has to fight for his way, for his life; to get to appointments, to save money; as fast as possible. The place where nothing ever stops; for no one.
 I jump. For one second I have been so much closer to heaven.

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this is my home

This is my family. We are about 60. We live all together and sometimes we fight. But we also laugh a lot. We get something to eat every day, sometimes we even get hugs. We see a different world passing by out on the street. And sometimes this world meets ours. Sometimes they come, with their big round eyes and their huge cameras, to show our family to the world. And we get to touch them and hug them and climb on them. And when I can pick up a flower and offer it to one of them, I feel closer to heaven for one second.

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i am old

I might be about 60 years old. In my life I had to see terrible things. But that doesn’t take the smile off my lips. My happiness is my little market on the street, and seeing my grandchildren growing up differently is my pleasure. Life is a miracle; you never know what’s going to happen. You never know what you’ll get, right?
Like one day a foreign girl walks into your house and asks you to take a picture of your old face. Is it because I am old and I might not be having a lot of time left on this world, or does she actually think I am beautiful? It doesn’t matter, for a moment I just felt closer to heaven.

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I fly

Oh my god, I am young. I love life so much. I love traveling, I am curious, I am curious and I am brave. I love this city with all my heart. When I first got on a motorbike here I felt like dying all the time. I didn’t think it would feel like heaven a few months later. Now I listen to music when I’m driving, I go with the flow and I fly away. Far far away, to a place way closer to heaven; dancing with the world. It’s my life.

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play girl

… jumps on the framework. That’s my Sunday afternoon. That’s my playground. Behind me hundreds of people are screaming and they’re watching men hurting each other. I don’t really understand why they hit each other, they call it boxing. I don’t really care about it, as long as I can use my playground I feel a little closer to heaven. Somehow I feel that these men inside the hall also feel a little closer to heaven.

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carry weight

I’m proud and I’m strong. This is what you see right? I’m walking down this way from the temple, carrying somehow my weight, hundreds of women beside me are carrying theirs, and somehow we carry the weight of the world. Of course I am a strong woman. My eyes don’t lie. Of course I am proud. But then I look into the eyes of that girl, taking a picture of me, carrying all that weight. She looks curious, she looks fascinated. I see her with her white skin and her big camera, I see her health, her wealth and how young she is, even more, how much time she still has ahead of her and how she is carrying hundreds of times less weight than I am. And that’s it, that’s all it takes, I feel so much closer to heaven.

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story face camera

I see your big camera, I’m not sure if I see why you’re taking so many pictures of me. But when I see my face in it, I certainly feel a little closer to heaven. For a while.

The End.


I don’t know what that is, heaven. I don’t know where I might be going next. What I know is I’m feeling pain; the doctors are inside of me, with their hands. I wish I could sleep, but I can’t. I can close my eyes, that’s what I do.The only thing that makes me feel close to something is the hand of this stranger, holding mine, holding me, holding everything, sharing my pain and my world.
When I opened my eyes again, I felt closer to everything, seeing the stranger’s eyes and seeing my mother’s eyes. Now I’m ready for the ride home; we hit the road, we feel closer to 7 million other souls.
Copyright: Kristin Zimmer
Pictures taken in Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia
Last one taken by an australian medical student in a vietnamese hospital.


4 thoughts on “Closer To Heaven.

  1. chuoinuong says:

    everyday is a happiness, and the moments “closer to heaven” make us love this life more and more. What’s a meaningfull writing, Kris.

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