On my train trip to the South, I pass the city of Nha Trang, which I was not going to mention in terms of sustainability, but there is something I actually want to share.
Nha Trang is a touristic coastal city, where especially lots of Russian tourists find their way, and own properties. One day I walk from the coast to a hill aside to visit a Temple, allowing me to view the entire city.
The Shadow Side
Walking away from the coastline, the exhaust fumes get stuck between the high buildings, filling my lungs with a lack of oxygen. The same swarm of motorcycles as in Hanoi rules the streets, chaotic, but friendly and someway even organized.
When finally arriving at the temple, the traffic fades out, as do the noise and the pollution. Silence sets in. I pass by the temple and the graveyard, and continue the hike upwards to the gigantic white Buddha statue on top of the hill.
Out of here, the statue can guard the dead and the living people, the city and the ocean. Out of here, it can see the city, the skyscrapers, and the luxurious hotel chains; the rough sea, and the small island in front of the coastline where the ruinous corrugated iron roofs house people on the shore of the river, in the shadow of the dancing neon lights.
The touristic façade covers up the reality, as many touristic scenes do, but, once you’ve caught a glimpse of the other side, you can no longer neglect the existence of it. This kind of sceneries shows painfully how every coin has two sides, and every light its shadow.
People as Animals
It cannot become more obvious when I walk from the touristic center to the outskirts of the city; where the fancy boulevard, surrounded by fancy hotels, morphs into a bridge. In the shadow of the last skyscraper appears the first house of a chaotic construction of sheets and bars, which has turned the island in the middle of the river into a populated mini-town. Approaching the zone, and walking under the bridge, my attention goes to a fence, where sad looking people live behind, while the sweet-sour smell of overripe fruit spreads out. Making me question the use of the fence; and the life of the people behind, when later on walking back to the station.
Back on Track
The train already runs into the station when I’m still buying my ticket. The first rail wagons contains beds – two by two – out of which semi-sleeping passengers watch the station, probably not even realizing whether they are dreaming or awake; the next rail wagons are seats – two by two – filled with a horrible smell, which I cannot define, nevertheless, there is an empty seat I can sit on, so mission accomplished and I cannot care less about the smell anymore. On the train, I start reading the book The Quiet American, from Graham Greene, about the history of Saigon, Ho Chi Minh, my next destination.