The next morning I actually had a sizable hangover. The only remedy that I knew that would typically cure my self inflicted disposition was a serving of eggs, a lot of water and a couple cups of coffee. For whatever reason, my mood did not seem to be improving after my consumption. Instead, it took a lot of alone time and some slow sipped beers in front of the crashing waves at our resort. This would not be a day for me to socialize or go sight seeing. While Juli sunbathed and listened to music at the pool behind me, I wrote something more important than any boring blog entry.
It took me almost all day to complete two pages of organized lyrical ramblings, most of which I will most likely deem to be complete trite in a couple months anyhow, but I felt relieved. This was one of the main reasons that I had come here. I wanted to see the sights, eat the food, immerse in culture and mostly meet the people, but the one thing I had that most others didn’t was a strong desire to create while I was out and about in the world. Most people can’t be bothered while on vacation, but this was not my vacation. My vacation happens at home where my work is easy and the lack of my own creativity is only accompanied by a manageable portion of guilt. Out here, I have my down time just like anywhere else, and when there is no comfortable couch to go home to, my lack of self-discipline doesn’t stand a chance against an alert mind and a strong will to do more with it.
When the writing grew tiring and I needed some fuel for inspiration, I turned to music, not just simply for the feeling of it, but for the way that it has been recently tending to ignite my imagination in a way that no other art can. The personal imagery that flashes over the back of my brain has never meant more to me than it did on this day. I understood why beats break and why certain songs climax. I understood what made an artist easy to appreciate compared to those who simply create something to be noticed. The authenticity of any form of expression can only be understood by those who seek it out and this why no one seems to have ever heard of many artist’s favorite artist. Whatever happened in the space between my headphones and my brain was something that I struggle to describe or even remember accurately, but it was magnificent.
Refreshed and back to earth with my laptop battery low, we finally got dressed and went to dinner. Sharing a small bottle of liquor accompanied by a coconut after our meal, we did our best to ascertain our separate ideas of what it takes to make “real” art, which can always keep two mildly intelligent people entertained for a good long while. Before it was too late, we returned back to our room to watch a movie on my computer. Thirty minutes in, the sunshine and whiskey caught up with Juli and she was fast asleep. I only made it another half hour myself until I succumbed to the inevitable drip of my not-so-well-earned melatonin.
The next day, it was clear that we were going to have to actually do something with ourselves. Simply biding time to avoid overexposure to the chaos that was promised to us in Saigon was not a good enough excuse in itself to book another night in Mui Ne, so we rented another motor bike for the day. First we stopped at the market to see what it had to offer. We purchased the maximum amount of fruit and dried fish that we could cram under the seat of our bike and began our adventure for the day. As we drove past the red dunes, I flipped the bird to a little kid standing next to a pile of plastic slides. I have to admit that it was not the most appropriate way for me to react, but it sure seemed like it in the moment.
It was a shame that it wasn’t until our final day that we finally found the place for cheap seafood via the Swiss-Viet girl’s recommendation. It took less than an hour to drive ourselves off the main tourist drag of Mui Ne and find some beaches littered with old Vietnamese women selling live seafood out of the bucket for roughly one fifth what it would have cost us near our hotel. We had two lobsters, about two dozen clams, six small squids, and some strange, transparent, gelatinous dough surrounding a dried shrimp, all for about eight dollars each. All of this was weighed out and cooked up right in front of us on the beach. I ate most of my meal in a small plastic chair that was continually sinking lower into the sand with every wave that rose up from under me with the rising tide.
Back on the motor bike, we drove further down the road than most people in town usually cared to venture. The destination we had in mind was the “Red Canyon”. We didn’t really know how far outside of town it was, we just knew that our map made it out to be easily attainable by motor bike. Roughly half an hour of bumpy and moderately cautious road navigation had passed and it dawned on me that I was already having all the fun that I had hoped for without really even needing to find this the canyon we were seeking. It was no Harley, but our little scooter that whizzed down the road left me feeling appropriately empowered with my situation. My only real responsibilities in this moment were to keep us alive by means of intuitive balance and shove a small amount of effort into finding some inconsequential location. In that moment, I had attained a frame of mind that was independent from purpose and location. I thought this feeling would be ever present immediately upon my departure from SFO, but it wasn’t up until this point that I had really found, what I thought, would be an unavoidable when you made exploration and adventure your number one vocation.
We passed a sign for the red canyon and continued further, expecting a massive natural expanse of red rock and ravines to come jutting out of the landscape at any moment. When this didn’t happen, we grabbed a bit more fuel from a pump in front a small familiy’s house in some single road village, then decided to head back to the sign seeing if we were capable of deciphering a rough location of this landmark. Oddly enough, the sign grabbed our attention again and as we stared at the Vietnamese lettering, expecting some miracle of ignorant translation to occur, we noticed the canyon sitting adjacent to the roadside. It was funny how this battered old sign managed to make more of an impression on us than the natural landmark it was referencing. Nevertheless, we parked the bike at some abandoned lot and took a walk through the small, empty crevasse.
Trash… and a lot of graffiti, mostly in Russian, being carved into the walls awaiting the next rainstorm to capitalize on its futility. Mostly, it’s just piles of discarded waste carried there by rainstorms of the past that are my most prominent memories of this spot. We felt it our duty to move forward through this junkyard now labeled on maps as a destination for tourists that didn’t care to spend another day at their resort eating seafood and sunbathing, but thanks to our effervescent good nature, we enjoyed our time there as much as any person could who had spent half a day finding it. Like I said before, it was never about finding this stupid place. The ride there and the company of the closest friend I had made in years was more than enough to keep me from complaining about the hopeless future of the spot that was, at some point, probably geological muse for photographers and anyone craving natural beauty in any form.
The rest of the day drew to a close without incident and we were finally ready to catch our bus to Saigon the next morning.