Like Dalat and for similar reasons Hoi An defies easy summary. It has its brash, kitsch and rip-off aspects but also a warmth never far from the surface, together with a kaleidoscopic abundance of contrasting ambience, culture and rhythm. I … Read More »
To the beautiful people of Danang after an afternoon on its streets, in a fish market and at a wonderful cafe where the young woman running things made me coffees between delivering a master class in checquers.
The old woman watering her kitchen garden smiles through blackened teeth. I know about that. In India you see similar, though there it’s not black but blood-red. That’s from pan, the areca nut paste served on betel leaves by a … Read More »
A kilometre from bustling and hustling Hoi An is Can Kim Island, as different as Cambridgeshire fens from Cambridge Town. Two years ago you had to go by boat but could bring a bike to tootle on sleepy lane, dirt track and … Read More »
Poker face made of stone, among friends but all alone. Why do you hide? Say something, say something; anything. Your silence is deafening – give me a sign. James: Say Something So we’re drinking and we’re dancing and the band is really happening and … Read More »
Across the white tiles of the loo it darts for refuge. I could take umbrage – haven’t pissed on a lizard in years – but remind myself its behaviour is procedurally sound in a land that prides itself on eating … Read More »
The old woman in the shade of her town house courtyard does not wish to be photographed. In response to my gesticulated request her lips purse, head shakes and right hand ascends; palm pushing out in flat dismissal. I signal … Read More »
March 16, 1968: seventy miles south of Danang, where US forces first landed in 1965 and where with customary serendipity I’ve washed up, a lieutenant in his mid twenties led the First Platoon of Charlie Company into a village a … Read More »
In two days I’ve seen one farang in Hai Phong, Vietnam’s third city. Tourists don’t come. In the face of stiff competition Hai Phong is also the friendliest place, town or country, I’ve seen in my six trips to Vietnam.
“We have a saying in the north”, Sa tells me. “We let our young people go south to fight. So many never returned, and now we wonder why they went.” There’s a sheen to his boyish features. A dash too of … Read More »