Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dear Bruckner,

Ah yes. Poor young Werther. I admit I had my hopes up when I saw his sleeping back and tattooed shoulder. But then i saw his shoes. And I called the whole thing off. Perhaps years from now we'll meet across a crowded room and something will pass between us in a glance. What was. What could have been. A momentary constriction of the heart muscle, a breath. And then nothing.

Meanwhile, I got the fried fish, sitting conspicuously alone on the last night. Left with my choices and the way the red peppers floated in the sauce, the combination of noodle, fish and greens together. I went back to the Hanoi Rendezvous hotel, my bags already packed, and I waited. And though, despite what the hotel name suggests, it's all a matter of timing isn't it? I keep waiting to be met by something somewhere- but maybe just being in a space brings a change you can't conceive. Even if it's not the one you want.

...I took a taxi out into the night and joined a host of other backpackers in various states of looking around to board a jostling railcart in a faded mint green compartment one can only associate with prisons, mental wards and communist regimes... though i found the pillows to be quite a lovely retro touch. I was living large in a 4berth soft sleeper. car 9. space 25.  I met a plucky couple who quit their jobs and were on a four month adventure. We chatted. And I was sad we werent travelling to the same place. I shared my lychees with them and they shared their coconut crackers... and i tried to insure sleep with 2 benedryl and some yogic breathing. It worked.

Even as I try and continue to write this- but the young german has followed me from Hanoi. Walked right into the doors of my farmstay- which frankly is more of a hip outpost than farm. And now that I understand this, I like it much better. I spent my first day in and out of sleep staring out into a would be magical space of brilliant green rice paddies with egrets flying around looking idyllic, and women in those iconic conical  hats. Still a vague sense of detachment while the hammock swayed. Of having to sink back into a place and be here and already missing Hanoi. Even meeting the two original explorers of the largest cave in the world didn't shake me until hours after it was too late.

And the threads woven around me in korea trying to break off of me bit by bit. I can't tell how. The next day though I went on the Paradise Cave tour. It made my heart race faster. It made me giddy that such a thing existed. It was glorious. I then got to pretend to be an explorer, bathing in the waters of an unknown spring source- brilliant turqouise...talking vietnam, politics and the war, kayaking to the darkcave, wading and swimming 40m through a cavern with headlamps, trudging through sand, stepping between basalt passages with sharp edges- wonderous and awing- and then tramping through the softest mud, slick against the walls and cooled perfectly like being in continuous passages of milk chocolate truffles in various states of being made. And then out again. Rum and soup awaiting us.

After that I had planned to contemplate my detachment to the ricepaddy field but i was swayed to take a trip to the dragons mouth cave, and bicycle wheel rutted mud roads 7km (though just the first part was really difficult and the rest smooth flanked by children and their staccato HELLO!), to take a rickety looking tourist boat to what seemed like some sort of journey to the center of the earth replete with 70's lighting, and then back to eat an entire boned fillet of some sort of river fish. It was delicious. Anyway I'm back now after all of that and all of this- and the young werther has left as there wasn't any room at the inn. I've eaten a fruit salad and some pho ga. Drank a grain tea and am fighting sleep. Tomorrow- my last full day- i'll try and tackle the ricepaddy again. To see what's out there in a place where I thought certain the volcano lay.

my love,

(ps. its still pen's turn)

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