Wednesday, September 5, 2007


At the beach in Nha Trang I rented a chaise lounge to while away my last afternoon in town. Before my eyes were various shades of blue - the sky, the sea, and the distant islands in between. A strong wind was blowing inland, easing the heat of a sun-drenched day.

On the chair next to mine was an older white man whose tanned, rugged face and bleached blond hair indicated prolonged exposure to the outdoors. It turned out that he was from Miami, owned a boat, and had been traveling extensively. His name was TJ.

The boy who rented me the chair came to collect his money. In broken English he told TJ he couldn't find what the man had asked him to. TJ definitely did not look happy.

A youngish woman was approaching us. She was carrying two baskets, each attached to one end of the pole on her shoulder. She's slim, and her movement was quite graceful because of the load she was carrying, strange that might sound. She wanted us to buy seafood from her, which would be broiled on a red hot little coal stove in one of her baskets. After some half-hearted haggling I bought a lobster, so did TJ. The woman swiftly broiled our lobsters, peeled them and handed them to each of us on a plate complete with salt, black pepper and a slice of lime, all the time smiling broadly. While munching on the rich, delicious meat, I found out that she had six children, got up at four every morning, went to a fishing port to buy the freshly caught seafood that she would later peddle at the beach.

Another white man with long silvery hair came by to give us a flyer. It advertised a new laundry facility at a tourist neighborhood, operated by a Jean-Claude. What on earth did a Frenchman do here running a laundry business? "He's probably running from something," TJ offered his opinion.

The chair boy came again with tools and a piece of wood to fix the back of one of his chaise lounges. TJ had left somewhere, so I asked the boy what TJ wanted that he couldn't find. I didn't get an answer, just a polite evasive smile. The lobster lady had reappeared, busy selling to another group of tourists, her smile even broader than before. She was having a very good day indeed.

TJ came back, looking irritated. He wanted some marijuana but could not procure it, the chair boy couldn't help either. He complained that it was a lot more available in Phnom Penh and Saigon. Sorry, bud, can't help you there.

I dozed off, lulled by the wind and the sound of waves. It was already dusk when I woke up with a slight headache. If I had stayed on the beach well into the night, I would no doubt have seen a different set of activities. Unfortunately my bus was leaving in an hour, giving me just enough time for a quick dinner. Farewell then, beach of Nha Trang!

View of Nha Trang Bay

No comments:

Post a Comment