A different kind of travelogue. As an avid young traveller I often wondered what would it would be like when I got older, gathered commitments, created children and accrued debt. This is what it's like.
Ho Tram Beach. A very real Vietnamese fishing village with very real Vietnamese Fishermen, fishing boats and indeed fish. And rubbish. Lots of rubbish. Then there is the surreal. There is a huge Casino in the area. It is a beautiful stretch of coastline. One can understand why a developer would look at it and think they could make money out of it. Two hours from the increasingly wealthy Ho Chi Minh City. MGM did. They set about some sort of deal with the local and national government to build an enormous Casino right on the beach. Its a white elephant of incredible proportions. I don’t know who is to blame but I am guessing that plenty of rich people got richer and plenty of poor people got bugger all.
Theres a lot of money to be made in casinos but as far as I can tell its all pretty evil. Gambling is mostly destructive. The little guy does not win. Its falsely advertised at best. I’m thinking James Ellroy novels, De Niro & Pesci and Oceans Eleven. Just with less good looking people and more white collar crime, more tax evasion. Anyway this casino got built. MGM pulled out. A local consortium stepped in. And now the Grand runs on something like a third of the staff that it was intended to have and no one seems to go there. It is not classy. Huge amounts of the coastline was divided up and sold to developers. Many of whom have not gone ahead with their plans. So you have fences and walls and empty plots. I hate the idea of a private beach. There should be no such thing. Some have gone ahead. We stayed in one of these; the very fancy Sanctuary Resort. It is classy. The “Rack Rates” are up to $1600 a night for a top end villa. We did not pay that. See Aoife’s accommodation review.
You can see that the ambition was there. The buildings are modernist. Very stylish and modern. Not modern in a designed for the reality of the present environmental crisis. Modern in an aesthetic way. It was unlike anywhere I have ever stayed before. The service was flawless. The facilities excellent. We leapt in and out of the pool all day. I felt like I had stolen my way into a palace and no-one had noticed that I was not one of these wealthy (though not actually beautiful) people.
The best thing for me though was not the resort. It was the filthy dirty rubbish covered parts of the beach either side on the resort. The beach immediately in front of the resort was cleaned every day. The beach either side was not.
Ugly? Yes. Real? Yes. Rats? Yes. Fishing Boats everywhere? Yes.
These guys are hard at work where I was on holiday. It was fascinating. The circular and leaf shaped fibreglass boats were up and down all day and all night. Boats into the water. Out of the water. Nets and lines into the water. Out of the water.
The craft are simple. Their craft is simple. And ancient.
This is real. The raked clean beaches are not real.
The private beaches with security guards but not life guards are unfortunately real. When enough developers have bought enough beach there will be flotsam and jetsam but there will be less free people feeding themselves by their unregulated work.
I as a tourist will be partly to blame. I don’t want beaches strewn with plastic. But i don’t like hypocrisy much either.