July 30, 2012
Da Nang, Vietnam
Pt. I: The Enduring Menace of We, Colonizers
The concierge at the front desk of the Sun River Hotel was a minikin middle-aged woman wearing a dichromatic Ao Dai silk tunic. It was around 2300h and her teeth were yellow and her face was bright and when I asked for her opinion on a nearby bar that my cab driver had championed, she said the bar was called Bamboo Bar and it was open late. She unfolded a map, tapping a specific point on it with two fingers. She took my luggage and smiled sadly when I admitted to having paid the cabbie eight bucks for a ride from the airport. The hotel’s windows were agape. Rusted-out rotating fans shuddered and buzzed.
Walking the western bank of Han River, the water seemed semi-solid. Across the surface small-scale oil slicks merged and dissevered and drifted toward the South China Sea. A stonewall delimited the sidewalk and dropped vertically down maybe two meters into black water. Corpulent rats pressed themselves into the crook where sidewalk met stonewall and they sauntered more than they scurried. Motorbike traffic was heavy and northbound. The city sounded like an orchestra of engines and smelled like smoked meat and sunburnt coral.