giovedì 27 settembre 2012

Remebering Saigon

5.25 am
The sun rises on the coast of Vietnam, while my taxi run to the airport of Danang.

What am I looking for in Ho Chi Minh City?
Maybe just memories.
Colonial memories hidden in few ancient buildings, in the Christian churches, along the wide tree-lined avenues. Remembrance of a past that burns in shreds, concealed in awkward memories of a war, covered up by the traffic and the rows of motorbikes.
And then the silence: a guilty, empathetic, resigned, still silence in the eyes of visitors of the War Museum. Torture, dioxin, napalm, malformations.
Forgotten words of declaration of principles.
They are disappearing, running far away, falling empty in the centuries, reflected in the horrors of today’s wars, so similar to pictures of forty years ago.
The wounds remain, without words.
We will learn one day.

Meanwhile, we try to be reassured by the other face of this land, by the green fields of the Mekong Delta, by its light blue sky. Floating markets, tropical gardens and water hyacinths, rice fields, boats, bananas and children, suspended wooden bridges: a motorbike darting through lotus fields, fighting cocks and ducks shepherds.
I close my eyes on top of a mountain, curled up in a hammock, facing the sunset.
And a bell rings far away…

domenica 16 settembre 2012

Smell of ginger...

                                                                                          Vietnam, Hoi An

Smell of ginger ...

Of ginger and fresh fish, the stalls lichi, avocado and dragon fruit. Tourist shops, T-shirts, bookmarks and sleeping bags. Triangular straw hats, colourful vegetables, smiling old ladies: a kaleidoscope of emotions.
"Come, look for a scarf" "Do you want a foot massage?", "Italy, football."
And then a narrow little street, a door to another world.
So I enter it slowly, allowing time to admire the life that flows on the river.
I sit on a plastic chair, sipping a fruitshake, suddenly realizing that I don’t need to run in order to understand. On the contrary, there are lots of things that can be grabbed only when we stop.

Tonight I said a prayer to the river.
A little old lady looked at me and gave me three coloured lanterns, which I let go away…

How to describe Hoi An?
A caress of warm wind, soft lighting of candles on the water, live music on the roadside.
I cannot describe the magic of red lanterns, colourful lamps on the trees, the poetry of Chinese kites on a bridge.
A spell for tourists, maybe ... But it is still magic.

sabato 8 settembre 2012

Goodbye Cat Ba

It's raining over the bay: It has been raining all day long.
And for various reasons It Is raining also in me.
Smell of fish, intermittent bursts of water, a warm wind, a sky spotted with black clouds. Some boats are still in the harbor, little lights moving away. Among them there is also our little junk, where we will spend two days, probably under the rain.
"There is no bad weather: it’s all a matter of suitable clothes”, The Norvegian motto came back to my mind. Surely this time I haven’t a suitable dress. Flip-flops, two shirts and a pair of trousers: that’s all I brought, keeping in mind that “The lighter you travel, the farer you will arrive”.
True, but not this time.
Luckily, my three Hawaiian friends lend me a k-way, a real treasure in these days of monsoon. A small red junk that seems to have just came out of a fairy tale book, a crew composed of two Vietnamese who don’t speak English, a young local as a cook.
Let’s the adventure start.


Islands, islands, islands, like falling stars in the dark water of the Gulf of Tonkin.
Unexpected visits to underground caves that we explore together with groups of Chinese and Thai. They talk all together, louder that the pop music of underground tourist shops: a picturesque affresco of different cultures mixing together. And then a good swim in secluded bays, a close encounter with transparent jellyfishes, morning showers with rain water and canoeing among colorful houses, guard dogs and bamboo bridges.
We sail zigzaging between remote islands, admiring their tropical vegetation, greeting other colorful boats, dreaming above this incredible turquoise water.
A strip of blue sky, and the sun rises, just when we are coming back to the port….
Goodbye Cat Ba: we will come back soon…