“He not busy being born is busy dying…”
And that’s what my remaining time in Vietnam is continually doing now: dying. Seven weeks from today I’ll be flying out of this country into some unknown future. I had a quick breakfast with a couple colleagues and they were asking when I’d go home, and when one of them learned that it’d be before Christmas, he told me that the People’s Committee wanted to present gifts to the foreigners for Christmas. And then he said to let him know if I got married in America, but he didn’t think he could attend my wedding. It was touching to hear.
This past weekend I went to one of the most beautiful places in An Giang. It’s an ecological park not to far from the border with Cambodia. I went with two of the people that I first met on Christmas day, 2004, and therefore some of my oldest friends here in Vietnam.
On the left and right are Mr. Pha and Mr. Trang, respectively, the guys that I met on Christmas day several years ago. In the middle is Mr. Tam, a former student of mine. Mr. Pha is the vice-director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Tam works at the Irrigation Management Center in Long Xuyen, and Mr. Trang is the Chief Economic Officer for the province.
We traveled through most of the preserve in small boats and in some places where the water was still, it was covered with these green floating plants, which I’ve since learned are “duckweed” in English. Sometimes the stuff we were looking at really didn’t seem real because it was so beautiful and also strange and different (at least to me) at the same time.
However, some of the best scenery at the preserve was from the observation tower in the center of the preserve. We had a 360-degree view of the mangrove forests below and of the mountains in the distance. By far some of the most beautiful scenery that I’ve encountered in Vietnam, or perhaps the world.