Off the tourist trail in Quy Nhon

Off the tourist trail in Quy Nhon

By Lonneke — February 10, 2016 03:43 pm

Another beach city, but this time we're practically the only people on the wide boulevard (besides some cockfights), and we have the sea to ourselves.

Around Quy Nhon we discovered some beautiful Cham Towers; ancient, orginally Hindu temples. Impressive to imagine devotees coming to these beautiful buildings to make offerings a long, long time ago. We drove our motorbikes on to a museum and it turned out it was our lucky day: there was a group of university students and a demonstration of martial arts and traditional music and dance was scheduled for them, so we sat in on that. The boys were enchanted, alone by all the weapons (among which a rake) and the loud drumming and snake flute as backgroundmusic and certainly by the impassioned fighting techniques.

Driving a motorbike is still an event in itself, certainly with the amount of stuff they mount on their vehicles, which makes them as long, wide and high as a doubledecker bus. Plus there's the most stoic ghost drivers you'll ever meet, and you do, at your side of the road, by the dozens. People insert blindly. In short: you have to anticipate incoming traffic from everywhere, all the time. A large pile of matrasses, strapped onto the back of a motorbike, almost bumped off our rearview mirror when it passed us. Our youngest son always stands between one of our legs, casually leaning against the saddle. Usually we drive behind each other, but when I drive next to him for a moment, he'll turn around and blow me a kiss and in that moment he is a beacon of peace amidst the mayhem, mesmerizing me. Then I have to tear my eyes off of him, to pay attention to the other 700 participants surrounding me.

When it comes to dust, it can compete with India. Maybe I'll buy one of those Hello Kitty face masks, sported by 95% of the women here. They do this to protect them from germs (and pollution and the sun), which is not a sufficient method at all, so we're looking at one of the biggest collective illusions in the world here. Regardless, it makes for a cheerful attire. Men usually wear a medical mask, so you feel like you're on a bus full of dentists, about to perform a root canal treatment.

Another motorbike-day, we ended up at a large, golden statue we saw glistening from afar. It turned out it lay amidst a very rugged and splendid coastal area. We took our time to climb through the cacti to the Buddha/Shiva/Mary-figure (we're really not sure who it was) and sat down to watch the waves crashing the rocks slow motion and goats crawling downhill on their knees.

I'm not a religious person, but driving through this gorgeous landscape, it occured to me that God/the universal energy must be in the elements. At least, that's where I'd be, if I were Him/it. To be the wind and caress the green, lush mountains, to be the rain and bore through the soil and help all its creations grow, to be fire and warm people's bodies and souls, to be the earth and shape this world and nourish everything in it. Yup, these are the impressions this scenery evokes.

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