Last week my lovely, kind, sweet, generous (she reads this, so…) wife came to me and asked if I would like to go to Mui Ne, a beautiful resort town on the beaches of the Eastern Sea (South China Sea for you readers of Atlases). We had been there about 4 years ago and my recollections were of a nice place with a huge swimming pool and mediocre beach.
Knowing that my lovely, kind, sweet, generous wife would not have asked if she had not found what she considered a “Sale” or bargain, I immediately said, “Sure, what’s in Mui Ne?” She said, “Cheap. Not too Far. 4 Star Resort. Very beautiful.” She said a lot more, but I can’t recall all the gracious superlatives she bestowed on this small town, but in fact, all were true and if anything, understatements.
All, except the “not too far” part. Although only 12o miles from Ho Chi Minh City, the bus (very comfortable and my lovely, kind, sweet, generous wife had made sure to get the roomy front-of-the-bus seats) ride took six and a half hours, with one 10 minute toilet stop and one 30 minute lunch stop. But the bus dropped us right at our hotel and would pick us up two days later at the same place and with multiple choices of pick-up times, so there were some small compensating factors.
The resort was all one could expect from a 4 star, with magnificent grounds full of lilly ponds, coconut palms, and thatched-roofed little shelters where you could lie down and chat and enjoy the gentle breezes. This time the beach was lovely, almost white sand and was very clean–not even any ocean debris like kelp or run-aground jellyfish. The waves were strong and I opted for the huge but shallow swimming pool and a shady deck chair. My lovely, kind, sweet, generous wife had a badly infected toe from a too-deep digging pedicurist, so she stayed off the sandy beach and out of the pool. She can’t swim, so that also lent to the decision.
We rested (like everyday in HCMC but with more palm trees and a crashing-wave symphony), ate, rested, ate, got massaged, aloe vera coated with a blanket wrap, and ate some more. One night we went to a lovely beach-side brewery restaurant and the second night we ate at our hotel. After the huge buffet breakfasts I was surprised at how good our appetites were–must have been the sea air and the exercise of getting in and out of bed.
I learned something new about my lovely, kind, sweet, generous wife–she decided to avoid telling me that she paid for the upgraded room we got out of her own pocket. An extra million and a half VND. Not a paltry sum. When I asked why she didn’t tell me (I had given her 5 million, thinking that was an extra 2.5 million over and above the cost of the resort and the bus ride) she said she didn’t mind paying (a REAL surprise, because ‘tight-fisted’ understates her nature greatly!) a little extra to make me more comfortable. She was quite serious, and that endeared her to me even more.
People often ask why I live so far from my native land, and in ‘of all places, VietNam’? The answer is two words, “Kim Lien”–my lovely, kind, sweet, generous wife. She makes my life easy, comfortable, beautiful, fun, and best of all, interesting. Tho she has no patience to teach me her language, she is always telling me small and interesting things about the Vietnamese culture and her life here. It seems there are a few defining divisions for her life here: There is before and after 1975. Huge national change! There is before and after her first marriage. Huge personal change. There is before and after her son’s death, I think the greatest personal change of all although she does not speak of it too often.
There is no mystery to my reasons for living here. There is an ever unfolding mystery to this woman who chose me as what may be her final husband, and that is the most interesting and if you know her, the least mysterious thing of all.
Mui Ne will be revisited when they build a good, viable superhighway from HCMC to there. A six and a half hour bus ride is just too far. Interesting, but just too far.