Friday, October 10, 2008

Vietnam's Central Coastline

The ruins at My Son (pronounced ME Sun).
Stone wheels.
Julia and me with Charlie.
My Marble Mountain Guide.

We met two German couples on their way to Hoi An from the airport in Buon Me Thuot. A quick flight and taxi ride later we were sitting in an alleyway cafe enjoying the local Cau Lau dish only available here in the city of tailors and beach side resorts. Renting our own motorbike has been quite a treat. With the freedom to roam and the cooling effects of speed we made our way south to My Son archeological site where misty mountain tops loomed over ancient Cham structures oozing with mosses and detailed brick carvings. Only a few structures remain after U.S. bombs reduced many of the once magnificent shrines and palaces to piles of rubble while Viet Cong were based in the complex.

Just north of Hoi An we visited Marble Moutain, a small town teaming with scores of marble workers and their shops. Our stop in a very unassuming corner cafe turned out to be one of our most affecting encoutners. Charlie Hattling an American Vietnam War veteran joined us and honored us with his compelling story captivating us for hours on the details of his experience. Stationed not far from Marble Mountain he had returned to Vietnam multiple times to help put this part of his past behind him; befriending once Viet Cong locals and memorializing the images of his friends that had passed in the fighting in marble. Just this visit he was reunited with a girl he had once given 20 cents to buy clothes with. The last survivor in his mess of photographs from that time she remembered him promising to return and always thought of him as her boyfriend because of his rare kindness. His knowledge and experience has injected an added color and life into our experience of this country and I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity to meet and call him friend.

1 comment:

evelyn said...

hi!you're really having a ball i see...and...very journalist-like in your detailed descriptions - which is SUPER for us ! we feel like we're actually there with you...despite having no laptop , you've managed to do this so well...keep up the great work with keeping us posted! love it!
it was great talking with julia's mom (jane) today..we felt like we'd known each another all this time!.. were having a most beautiful day out here in east coast...luv/missU