Monday, March 2, 2015

Ho Chi Mihn City and Nha Trang, Vietnam

I feel to want to hold it, tuck it ever so close. I feel that it is already there, it's become a piece of me or I have become a piece of it. In a way, we are each other. All the places, the faces, the memories. I feel to hold it all, and less of me as I expand into the realization of my own brevity.

I am visiting Ho Chi Mihn City in Vietnam, with my two very dear friends.

As we drove to the spa in district 10 yesterday, I saw an old man riding his bicycle among the hundreds of motorbikes. He was shirtless, and you could see his bones pushing up through his leathery dark skin. He was sweating as he rode his bike, pushing a mound of aluminum and wood on a small carrier. 
I met a man and his wife, who are worth over a billion dollars.  The very next day, I visited factories just outside the city, where the locals make up to $4 per day. The proximity is not far apart, between the wealthy and the struggling.

I sit here in a small bungalow outside the factories. Expansive ornate dark wood furniture surrounds. On the bar, there sits large glass containers filled with dead animals: geckos, snakes, baby leopards, and such. Filling the containers is liquor. This is a liquor people drink. A baby goat head hangs on the wall, a large piranha is in the fish tank.

Nha Trang, a city just a few hours northeast of Ho Chi Mihn, is located on the coast of the sea. The city is filled with fisherman. My friends and I traveled away from our resort and went north into the more humble parts of town. We tried fresh snails, squid and crab at a small restaurant outside the heart of the city. The base of the restaurant was on the edge of a dock. As you walked onto the dock, you found yourself in a maze of small wooden rooms and hallways, standing on stilts about the river way. 

The three of us laughed and drank beer and ate there in our small wooden room atop the waterway.

We visit a goddess temple in Nha Trang. It was created in the 7th century. What is it about human nature that draws people to having a God? This is a question I am fascinated by, and will write about at another time.
The temple is beautiful. I put on a long white robe and walked inside. The ceiling is so high and so dark, it almost seemed as if I was looking up into the endless black sky. You could not see where the ceiling began. The darkness within reminded me of the Russian Catholic monastery I visited last year just outside of Pheonix Arizona. The priests worshiped at 3:00 in the morning, in a dark room, lit only by candles.  

At night, I had dreams of a red cat. She crawled in through the large wood French doors of my room, through white curtains and laid on my stomach. I could not move and was frightened as she kneaded my stomach with sharp claws.

We lay on the sand in Nha Trang, on a homemade bed, made of four large lawn chair pillows, under fluffy white comforters and atop pillows from our hotel rooms. The four of us lay there, side by side, looking up at the stars and sitting up at times to watch the evening fishing boats. Dozens of boats are painted rich navy blue and green, with red trimming, casting bright lights into the infinitely black water below. They shine the light at night to attract squid into their nets, each emanating a small whisper of ticking.
The boats would come out every night around sundown, when the winds would pick up, and would stay until sunrise. We lay there all night playing Moby, which eventually became the soundtrack for our weekend.
We have pleased ourselves. We are pleased to have found camaraderie, the friendship we had found with one another.

Amongst the feelings of companionships, there is also a sense of loneliness; to be so far apart from the comfortabilities and routines of regular life; to be so unattached. And to bask in the freedom leads to strange feelings of smallness.

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