Exotic locations such as Vietnam conjure up images of beaches and islands. Although we have been in some pretty exotic places we have had very little beach time. Phu Quoc Island is our last major stop in Vietnam and only the second time we are staying at the beach. We have discovered that perhaps it has all been for the best that we didn’t plan a lot of time at resorts.
This trip has been all about discovering ourselves; like one long self-directed family counseling session. One of our discoveries is that we are not really a beach family or at least not a beach resort family. Not that we don’t like the beach, but it is probably more accurate to say that we like seeing the beach and walking on the beach but not lying on it. I prefer the beach in the early morning and in the late afternoon, but not so much in the heat of the day. Other than to catch a little sun, none of us would spend hours playing at the beach or reading. To some degree we all have problems sitting still and would rather be doing something active.
I prefer rugged undeveloped beaches with few or no tourists. Little pockets of delight that show up in small villages, wedged between rock cliffs or behind public bathrooms at roadside bus stops. Accidental beaches that have been ignored because their access is poor, location is less than ideal or they are too small. Not that there is anything wrong with the miles of perfect sand beaches dotted with grass huts at resort areas like Phu Quoc Island, but sometimes they give you pause to think.
In some ways spending some time in a small village and at an orphanage in Vietnam has ruined us for resort life. We have met and stayed with real Vietnamese people. Now we see their individual faces not just their collective distinctness from us. I look into their eyes and smile at them now, instead of just looking at what they are selling. I know where they live. I know that their lives are very different from ours, but that at our core we are all the same.
At times on this trip I have gone for days without seeing other foreigners, but resorts are odd places where westerners congregate. We look so big, white and scantily clad compared to the Vietnamese. I notice that the Vietnamese work very long days in the sun at the resort, doing laundry, cleaning rooms, giving massages and selling fruit on the beach while I relax and enjoy myself. I feel odd sometimes walking around in my swimsuit and I see them avert their gaze. They smile appreciatively at me when I am fully clothed and wearing my cone sun hat on the beach. Sometimes they point to their own hats and say “same same!”.
I know that resorts bring money and money brings jobs, education and development. The beauty of this tropical place is indisputable and the climate along with the beaches are an asset to be exploited. But I have also seen places where Vietnamese people have been relocated from their homes on the shoreline so that resorts can be built. Places where cemeteries have been uprooted and moved to the mountains so a golf course could be built. You can move the people (dead and alive) but you can not help but lose their story. The story is attached to the place. Something is lost forever. I watch the sunset and I wonder about my self indulgence ...
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Bissky Dziadyk Family
Travelling the world as a family since 2008.
In September 2008 our family embarked on a four month journey through South East Asia. Traveling with a child who uses a wheelchair presented its challenges, but following the Mekong River through China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam with a wheelchair was truly an adventure.
When we move beyond our fears and embrace our dreams, the Universe has an odd way of not only supporting us but giving us more opportunities than we ever imagined. Embarking on a journey with an open heart we can not help but be changed forever by the experience. Indeed it would be a waste to return untouched in the spiritual realm.
September: China (Beijing, Xi’an,Kunming, Yuanyang)
October: Northern Vietnam (Hanoi, Halong Bay) and
Laos (Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Vientiane)
November: Southern Vietnam (Hue, Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta)
December: Cambodia (Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang, Kampot and Sihanoukville).