E-Travels With E.Trules.....geckos on the wall......S.E. Asia, Scandinavia, Borneo, Malaysia, Travelogues

geckos on the wall

almost june, 5/31/2000

hue, vietnam

geckos on the wall.

little spiny green lizards climbing up the cracked white plaster wall. into your brain. from the run-down hotel across the street from "apocalypse now", the supposedly trendy, but now empty, nightclub in downtown hue - the laid back coastal town with the sprawling, but also empty, gray sandy beach. why empty? because the hue locals go only after work - to the beach that is, around dusk - to avoid the sun. don't want their skin any darker, don't you know? but no tourists there either. not the nightclub at night. nor beach during the day. low season. no people. hotel rooms - seven bucks a night.

geckos on the ceilings – every nite in your steamy (sometimes with AC if you're lucky) lonely planet-recommended guest house in hoy an, vietnam, yet another re-constructed coastal town just below the former DMZ. but now fifty tailors on this one street – and maybe only fifty tourists. how can you resist buying and shipping home 36 kilos of custom made double-breasted suits, silk chinese-collared shirts, cashmere tuxedos (with two different length coats), a cool black dacron sport coat of your own design, a calf-length black wool coat for the LA winter, three double and triple pleated pants just for fun? total bill: two hundred and forty three bucks!

geckos behind the bar – of the well-kept, nha trang sailing club, a nice place to escape your economy budget, even if only for an over-priced, but delicious fresh seafood lunch. you don't need much imagination to see the throngs of horny GIs along china beach back here in '64, '71 – corralling the pretty but poor, small-breasted, smooth-skinned local girls for a little rest and relaxation off the base.

geckos in the kitchen of the fancy euro-kept condominium, now taken care of by one of the slew of ex-american GIs back in 'nam for love, fatherhood, profit, penance, or rehabilitation. geckos in the lobbies of the fancy five star four seasons and novitel hotels. they're not here yet, but you know they comin'…

geckos, geckos, and more geckos… geckos on the brain.

but the foooooooooooooood. i could go on for seven pages just about the fooooooooooooood. braised coconut beef, served inside the shell with a sweet coconut milk broth. green papaya in a lemon dill sauce with garlic and shrimp. steamed wontons, fresh pureed pumpkin soup, soft flat noodles w/ chicken, beef, pork, and/or vegetables. sautéed garlic spinach with fried crispy noodles. translucent spring rolls to die for (a specialty of hue). fantastic combinations of gourmet french and asian cuisine. i invited the 4 star chef from the back streets of saigon to come cook for us when she visits LA. be there, or be square.

the trip up the coast thru mid-central vietnam. courtesy of kim café. sinh café. the earl scheibs of viet tourism. along the government-controlled, yet simultaneously privatized, automated, mini-bused back packers' economy route. broken down vans, no air con, pack 'em in, feed 'em cheap noodle & rice goo at the pre-designated, kickback roadside café. up along the looks-like-PCH highway - except with rice fields, chinese wooden boats, coolie hats, water buffalo, peasants up to their waists/usually knees -- in life-giving, black mud. primitive. over-crowded. exhausting. scenic. beautiful. humbling.

i took my first motorbike out yesterday. solo. after back-seating with mr. duc for five glorious days thru the central highlands, how could i not? crazy? risky, you say? but of course. fun? exciting? but of course, i reply. zipping thru hordes of near-catastrophic cars, bikes, street vendors, school kids, marketers, food shoppers, police, pedestrians. getting nearly run off the road by the misanthropic vietnamese lorries. then… fifteen minutes after i started, a little cosmic test -- Rain – as in - downpour -- for three hours straight. a scary, swerving, wonderful, puttering mud bath – to the ancient "champa" ruins at "my son".

i was the first and only one there at 7 a.m.; walking through nine dilapidated and restored centuries of history. only a fraction left from the devastation of american bombing and the centuries of theft and pillaging by neighboring invaders. a heavy fog hanging over the glistening, rain-soaked grounds. eerie. indiana jones-like – without the hollywood high jinks or temple of doom. indian-influenced religious statuary, temples, carvings, and totems dedicated to the cham kings and shiva, their dynasty-founding and protecting divinity. comparable to the huge borobodur buddhist temple in java, the khmer's angor wat site in siem riep, thailand's ruined city of ayyuthaya, and bagan, the one i've never seen in burma. makes you feel big and small, both at once, part of the infinite history the entire world. a speck in the ocean of knowledge you didn't even know existed.

came back. walked around hoy an with two german girls i met on the beach the day before. saw the japanese covered bridge from the 16th century – with a temple carved right into its side. eighteenth century chinese assembly halls. merchant houses. huge open courtyards. beautiful two story, multi-roomed wood structures. once family-owned places of residence-commerce in one of southeast asia's busiest ports, now turned into museums, hotels, trendy eateries. funny and fancy asian-style antiques, opium pipes - in colonnaded french buildings along duong phan boi chau. chinese pagodas. fish markets. a boat ride with the girls. lunch with the girls. at which point, i just hadda get outta dodge – the frauleins leading..... absolutely nowhere…

back on my own on kim café's tour again. but a with new english couple (from surrey, don't you know). the guy a show dancer who likes to get into street fights. "you don't always get what you want; but if you try some time........................."

off to bed. thanks for your advice on my virgin country girl. she's long behind me - near the cambodian border. i'll have to go back for her if i listen to some of you.

you know, traveling solo is intense - lonely, adventurous, demanding, instinctive, creative, more lonely. but rest assured, you're all -- my traveling companions. not a bad lot actually. i think we more or less get along.

oops, they're kicking me out of the internet cafe. back to the hotel across from apocalypse now. sleep well. look out for the geckos. they make funny sounds in the middle of the night--- like crickets – but in a sequence of four, five, or six in a row: "gecko, gecko, gecko, gecko…"

they get into your brain….

your bud--

harry hue