February 23rd, 2010

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Tuesday Feb 23 Nha Trang

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

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I spent most of the day trying to find a place around Nha Trang where I can watch the basket boats being made. I am getting closer. Without a good English speaking Vietnamese guide on my bicycle it resulted in many dead leads, even though I had it written down by a Vietnamese in my notebook. I was directed to the basket boats in the bay and finally to a merchant in the fishing village that sells brand new ones. One sight I had not seen yet was the Lon Son Pagoda. It has an enormous reclining white Buddha. It also has a memorial for Thic Quang Duc  who was the first self-immolator, protesting the treatment of the Buddhist by the Ngo Dinh Diem regime, in 1963. Six emulators of the immolator are immortalized in the same memorial. The horrid photograph of Quang’s desperate act lives vividly in the memories of my generation.

On a fluke, I decided to stop at the Louisiana Brew house beach, which has a swimming pool, beach chairs and umbrellas and it rents out Hobie Cats, Windsurfers, etc. When I asked the Australian looking operator of the water sports section: ” Do you know what happened to Allan Goodman?” there was a momentary puzzled look and then he said: “You are looking at him”. I had met Allan in 2006 in a different uniform, this time his “costume de jour” is a Speedo. It was good to see him and Allan was able to fill me in on just what had gone wrong on the highly touted entry of Sun Sail into Vietnam with a six boat sail charter fleet. And he gave me some encouraging news on the prospects  that Vietnam might soon become a more attractive cruising destinations for sailors like my self. I wrote about my 2006 trials and errors experience at :  https://cometosea.us/albums/log-Vietnam.htm   I plan to write a section for www.noonsite.comon Vietnam with these latest details and addresses in the next couple of days. According to Allan “Fleetwood” is still one of the very few boats that has spent any appreciable time in Nha Trang in the last years.

On the beach I met an ex-pat from Mumbai. We got to talk about “Shantaram” a 1000 page book about Bombay that I am halfway through with. It has made a deep impression on me and I have been mentioning it to several people along the way. What I was not aware of, before meeting the Mumbaier, that the book was originally a much smaller one and that Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean) asked the author, Gregory David Roberts,  what it would cost to have him write it into a screen play. He mentioned some crazy figure, in the millions: “Done” Depp answered. The movie production has run into many obstacles and eventually it will be an awesome event but, reading the book/movie script, Roberts makes you hear the sounds, smell the fragrances and stench, feel the pain and experience it’s love. You have got to get a hold of it!

I ate dinner at the Texas Barbeque, run by a Texan. The ribs were fantastic.  Brad the other Edmontonian guest at my hotel and his Saigon girlfriend, Thu, just happened to come in at the same time and we shared a table. I had an after dinner Pastis at Andre’s “El Coyotte” and met another Vietnamese-American repatriate, John. He knows where they are making the “Tung Chais”, basket boats, and will take me there.