Finally--some beach time!

Trip Start Jul 26, 2006
Trip End Apr 01, 2008

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Saturday, January 6, 2007

We returned from the Delta to HCMC on a Thursday night and were back on a bus early the next morning for Mui Ne, the last stop on our whirlwind Vietnam tour.  Considered the nicest stretch of sand within easy reach of HCMC, it was indeed a relaxing spot to bring things to a close, especially for two road-weary travelers who'd been achin' for a little beach time.  Looking back on the trip from this vantage point, it's impressive how much we were able to pack in; but doing so ended up meaning a LOT of time spent in-transit from one place to the next.
Mui Ne is basically a one-road town, and here Route 706 stretches for about 10km along the shores of the South China Sea.  Most of the resorts and restaurants are concentrated on the west end, but we lucked out and just happened to make reservations at a quieter spot at the far eastern end.  Most of our precious few recreational hours in Mui Ne were spent walking on the beach.  Our first time out we thought it might be a good idea to walk west along a fairly deserted stretch of beach between where we were staying and where all the restaurants were at.  It turns out though that what initially looked "deserted" was just where lots of local fishermen lived, and they apparently don't have the same sort of sensibility when it comes to beach aesthetic as the resorts do.  So our little walk went from lovely white sand beach, to a more gritty beach with small huts along the water, to "look, there are some livestock just wandering around" and "gee, these folks just seem to dump their trash right here on the beach."  Of course with livestock comes dung, and with trash comes...rats!  You can imagine our horror when we suddenly began coming across massive, bloated, dead rats just lying there on the beach.  Don't ask me what did them in, but first one, and then another, and then it was time to beat a path back to the main road.
So needless to say, the next day we headed east instead, towards a little fishing town a few kilometers away.  This walk was much more rewarding and thankfully rat-free as this area ended up being where all the fishermen load their boats and head out to do some fishing, not where they dump all their trash.  Once we reached the village, we jumped on some motos and caught a ride out to Mui Ne's "little grand canyon" and its famous sand dunes.  Sufficiently enamored with the place, we eventually had to climb back aboard the ol' tour bus to HCMC, where Jennifer would disembark from our little journey and return to real life.  The following morning after our return from Mui Ne, Jennifer would be on a plane from HCMC-->Hong Kong-->Tokyo->D.C.  As for me, well, I still had a vast stretch of southeast Asia between here and Kuala Lumpur.
Three weeks is a long time to spend traveling with somebody that you're still getting to know, especially in a foreign country.  I've certainly had my share of travel disasters because I made the mistake of climbing into a car with someone that it turns out I really didn't know all that well.  Hundreds of miles from home, with not much $$ in your pocket and no escape hatch, you pass the remaining time you have together focusing on the radio, the scenery, a good book, some future trip that you're going to take all by yourself-anything to help you forget about the dreadful person sitting right beside you.  Later you'll (hopefully) recall the really joyful moments that you spent together, and realize that you too can be a bit difficult (even downright crotchety) from time to time.  I'd just come off spending the past five months pretty much on my own, and I can be a bit "set in my ways" (as Mom would say) to begin with.  But I tried to make up for my crotchetiness by being an extra good line leader when it came time to cross those hectic Vietnamese streets, by trying to always carry the heavier bags, and by assuring that Jennifer never fell out of any of the boats we rode in (though there were some close calls!).  For her part, Jennifer was a lovely travel companion.  She led me along to some of the most gorgeous spots on the planet, never forced me to go shopping, was always ready for some adventure, and made peace with my constant beer drinking and napping.  In between all that, she was just a wonderful person to spend time with and definitely left a special place in my heart for Vietnam.  I hope we get to travel together again some day.
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afromesa on

fragrant vagrancy
Hey Jas,

I checked out your blog for the first time in ages because although I am subscribed, I never get notifications (will check on that).

I look forward to delving into some posts I missed, although I did get to spot the pigs on the stick pic! Makes me think of your 'meat dessert' in Cuba...;-)

Well, after checking out your last post I went to do some reading...but now I'm back on because what I was reading made me think of you--Marjorie Agosín's Cartographies: Meditations on Travel.

Here are some passages for you to wander with:

'I navigated without maps or precise schedules. I intuited that genuine cartography is hidden, invisible to hours and routes. I allowed myself to be swept along as if my body were blank. I eschewed directions and travel times. I understand that no one awaits a true traveler, that I was alone. Day and night were contained within me...I understood how the rhythm of a heart devoid of armor creates a map, imprecise yet full of remembrance and discoveries, like entering a secret.

And I know that I will find neither offerings nor promises. All that matters is listening to the murmur of the road, following the route, ignoring other tracks, traveling as if only one possible path existed: the present...

I knew that traveling was like making love, the confidence of a body always unknown, adding other landscapes to the soul, allowing life to be an impulse, a flow of dreams. Traveling meant not desiring the quotidian. It was an obsession with astonishment, the wished-for tracks that lead into forbidden enclosures...'

radiant roads to ya,

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