The never-ending adventures of a travel writer in Vietnam, Cambodia, New Zealand and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Vietnam Changes and Experience Becomes Memory

It's a sad thing when the things we treasure disappear and can never be restored.

(Before) I had a favorite swimming hole, pictured above, just 2 hours north of highway 1 in the mountains. It was situated behind an remote Rag Lai village in NE Binh Thuan Province.

(After) I was distraught to return over Tet and find that the government was in the process of pulling down the mountain and building a dam over my swimming hole.

(Before) Previously the villagers had built a lovely waterworks. The trough on the left had water about should-deep. It was crystal clear and the little minnows were friendly. They'd come up and nibble on your skin. You could ride the current in the trough to the end like a river ride at a water park.

(After) This rock pile now sits in the trough. It's easy to understand why the government would want to built a lake at this spot. The valley here forms a perfect crater and is pinched off to a tiny exit here, with a distinct ridge on each side. The troubling thing is, from the top of the ridge, this valley has a distinct sort of super-volcano look to it. One has to wonder if the added pressure of a lake could have some unintended consequences. I'm not sure I'd want to live in the Rag lai village with a big new dam at my back door either. The resulting lake will probably be lovely, assuming any part of it is accessible--but it will be five to ten years before the muddy water settles and the vegetation fully regrows around the disturbed areas.

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