Living and working in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Vietnam can best be described as an “experience.” Formerly known as Saigon, the city retains a great deal of Chinese influence from ancient history and present-day life, as well as imprints of the French occupation combined with American war remnants. Overlaying much of the history is modern-day Vietnamese culture and identity – a heady mix of past and present.
Unfortunately, as Ho Chi Minh City thrives and grows, the side effects of air and noise pollution also bloom. That’s why my friends and I decided it was time to escape the city and get a healthy dose of the sea combined with tranquility and peace. Ho Tram is an easy two-hour drive southeast of HCMC. It has little to offer except beaches, trees and a beautiful boutique hotel serving fresh and delicious seafood. This is where we decided to situate ourselves for the weekend.
Though Typhoon Damrey was forecast to make landfall only slightly north of us sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning, we decided our need for nature, in any form, superseded the relative safety of staying in the city.
Arriving at twilight, we quickly left our bags in our rooms to meet for drinks at the beachfront bar. Though it was dark, we could hear the waves pounding on the sand, reminding us a storm was somewhere out there. Our group was fairly quiet for a bunch of teachers – listening to the waves and connecting to nature again was more important.
The morning brought daylight, but not sun. Though known for a unique ability to spend hours laying in the sun (with 30 SPF) doing absolutely nothing but breathing and letting my mind wander, I didn’t mind. I found I enjoyed listening to the wind blow through the beachy pine trees, the birds calling to each other and the waves rolling relentlessly onto the shore as much without sun as with.
Sunday morning the sun and clouds played with each other, each taking turns as the dominant player in the sky. The waves from the storm were just right for body-surfing, and I played in the silty sea until it was time to pack up and head back to the city. Looking out the window of my high-rise apartment building, I promise myself to get back to Ho Tram, to the sea and nature often, knowing the respite from the smog and noise is my prescription for well-being.