Well, maybe not fun, but a bit of irony that borders on a rather extreme case of cognitive dissonance.

We drove last week for three hours with our guide and driver from the city of Hue to the city of Hoi An to the south. To get to Hoi An we had to travel through the mountainous region of Viet Nam that borders the great bay of Da Nang.

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Ever heard of it? Sure you have. Da Nang is where China Beach is, it’s where Red Beach is. It’s where the Marines first landed in 1965 setting up military bases and beginning our full-scale land war with the North Vietnamese.

Well, I’m not going to talk about that. (Okay, I admit I just did.) Instead, I want to tell you how bizarre it was to drive up a winding road to the crest of those mountains.

“Look up there,” said Binh, our guide. “See it, at the top of the mountain?”

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We could just make out a box-like, brick building perched on the mountain against the hazy sky.

“What is it?”

“American bunker,” Binh said, “It protected the mountain pass here and the Da Nang bay on the other side.”

“Wow, amazing to see such a thing today,” I said empty-headedly.

“If you’re lucky today,” Binh laughed, “You see something funny up there.”

I couldn’t imagine what he was implying, but he seemed excited about the surprise he hoped to show us.

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It turns out the bunker is not only ideally located by position as a watchtower…

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…it’s also the perfect location for a wedding photo shoot.

Grand vistas. Great expanses of sky and sea. Not to mention mountain passes and landing beaches.

Do you see them there, the adoring couple, off to the right atop the Howitzer bunker with the wedding photographer shooting from the main bunker to the left?

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Here they are in close-up. Young lovers poised like wedding cake figurines against the sky, oblivious to everything but their love and their future.

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No past war stories to frighten them. No remembered horrors to cast shadows on their bright day. No bullet holes to dampen their staged smiles on this glorious morning.

Nettie and I had a tough time putting the two discordant images together. Love and Death. Happiness and Death. Beauty and Death. Weddings and Death.

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We saw the bullet holes. With little effort I could picture the Viet Cong hidden in the adjacent hillside behind the blissful couple, firing at the Americans and the Americans shooting back.

But as I said, I’m not going to talk about that.

Let me continue, instead, with my own little bit of discordance, or irony at least, that occurred pool-side this morning over my lovely cup of tea just before breakfast at our Hoi An Beach Resort.

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Do you see the crystal river just beyond the edge of my resort’s precious infinity pool?

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Yes, the fisherman there. He’s earning his daily bread. Casting his net upon the water, he’s fishing for his family’s sustenance. That little, worn-out boat, those ragged shorts and bare feet plying a trade that is centuries old and centuries unchanged.

He slaps the water with a ten foot length of bamboo pole to scare the fish into his net…WHACK!…WHACK!…WHACK! It’s an unnerving sound as I sip my tea and butter my scone. WHACK! once more.

Then he gently hauls the delicate net back up. Is it full of fish? No. I watch him carefully pull it up foot, by foot, shooting picture after picture as hopeful as he was for a fish to appear, for his family to be fed.

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Finally, one little fish, about three inches long, emerges from the water trapped in his net. This photo just barely reveals it slipping into the boat. The fisherman quickly, expertly pulls it from the net and tosses it into a bucket of water in the center of the boat.

He hauls the full length of the net out. No more fish. His body exhales as he accepts this. He will surely need more than one three inch fish to feed his family. He methodically positions the boat farther down the river and tosses the net out again and the WHACKING begins once more.

But I don’t really have time to see how his daily struggle turns out. Nettie and I are very busy.

I nod to her, she nods back to me. We get up and go into the resort dining room where a sumptuous breakfast buffet is laid out. It is time for us to begin the arduous task of figuring out what day will be best to visit the hotel’s Water Lily Spa for our Traditional Vietnamese massage.

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To see selected photos of the misty, dragoon-toothed islands of Ha Long Bay where we took a two-day boat trip, and to get a pictorial overview of Hue, the ancient capitol of Viet Nam, and see Hoi An, the charming fishing village (and now shopping and tailoring tourist magnet), click here: Selected Photos

 

3 Responses to Here’s A Bit Of Fun…

  1. Beverly Pine says:

    Just got home. We will have to compare notes. Did you see the “film” at the “Hanoi Hilton”? Freaked me out. Also, the tunnels in Ho Chi Minn City (not to mention the man himself in the guarded tomb (was that in Hanoi or Hue?) — our guide said he is really a wax figure like Madame Tussauds. Fascinating trip! We learned the Vietnamese are so busy hating the French and Chinese, they forgive us. We stayed in the posh Metropole Hotel in Hanoi and took a bunker tour where Joan Baez had to hide and wrote “where have you gone my son” for a Vietnamise woman who was also hiding there. Also, very interesting to compare Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Hong Kong. What a kalidascope of memories. (Forgive my spelling – unsure what time or day it is). Enjoy the rest of your trip.

  2. Gary Maxwell says:

    Thanks for the update & great pictures. Why did a war ever have to be fought in this beautiful place? Madness! On another note, the kid is back in picture. I shoot this Thursday & Friday. What a roller coaster ride. Tell you all about it when you get back.

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