Memories of Saigon where I was treated to a spectacular sight: hundreds of balloons released into the sky. They gently drifted away on the breeze, as a procession of a few score priests, (including one in full Orthodox regalia) crossed the road and walked into the cathedral.
I never found out the occasion, yet it was something I had not expected to see in a Communist country. Yet this is part of the reason I will always call her Saigon, in memory of he past, although Ho Chi Minh races to the future.
The river washed away the humidity of the wet-season. A soft breeze drifted over the waters of the Mekong Delta, granting some relief from the heat. Our little wooden boat putted further and further upstream as a wall of green closed around us. Civilisation seemed far away.
Only that morning I’d been wandering the chaos of Saigon. Before dawn the bikes start their chorus of horns. Even at that hour the streets are busy, and the place simply bursts with energy. It is a city totally alive – and totally exhausting with its humidity.
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Having spent a few years living in Saigon, Graham Greene’s The Quiet American is in many ways his homage to this vibrant city.
Despite a somber tone coloured by the knowledge of what is to come, Greene’s love of Saigon and her people shines throughout the novel. Continue Reading →
Dawn had barely touched the sky. I stood in the silence, trying to decide where the dragon had plunged into the sea. My boat drifted past islands and craggy cliffs born when the dragon of the gods, after gouging the mountains with his tail, plummeted into the sea. The foaming waves then rushed in to flood the devastation, creating Halong Bay.
Now these islands with their impossible peaks swim in a sea of emerald. Later that day I would find a floating village (complete with a school and a bar) hidden among the 3000 islands (or maybe 1500 islands, depending upon your sources). Elsewhere there are forgotten grottos, or islands with names such as The Two Hens or Tea Pot Island.
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