This is what I’ve been waiting for. Central Vietnam – Da Nang and Hoi An. I expected pristine beaches, tropical vegetation, UNESCO heritage listed buildings and extraordinary people. I wasn’t disappointed. But before I continue, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the tragic effects of the Vietnam war on the people of Vietnam.
Prior to arriving, I knew little of the war. And I still don’t know much about it. But what I did learn and what impacted me the most, was the use of Agent Orange and the effect it is still having on the Vietnamese people. Without going into too much depth, Agent Orange is a herbicide that the American’s air-dropped throughout Vietnam to destroy plants and trees where Vietnamese troops could find refuge. They used more than 43 million litres of the deadly herbicide and though his happened more than 40 years ago, the effects continue to be catastrophic. And I don’t use that word lightly. No one can be sure how many people have been affected and how many more will be affected. And despite this, the people still have smiles on their faces and I felt welcomed with open arms.
Da Nang was home to one of the major airbases used in the war, but today it is becoming one of the most tourist-frequented places in Vietnam. A stroll down the boulevard by the river in the evening is world class, as is China beach. There is something about doing Yoga on the beach. The sound of waves lapping on shore, the smell of salt in the air, but what I enjoy most is that you need to get a little dirty. The sand is uneven, it goes absolutely everywhere, every pose feels different and so does every experience. It reminded me to approach everything with a beginner’s mind, that we are all eternal students and we can learn something from every experience, even if it is a pose we’ve done a million times.
After 2 days in Da Nang, it was off to Hoi An. I don’t like playing favourites, but if I had to, Hoi An would be it. It was the first place where I can truly say I was consistently relaxed. The pace at which the town moved was delightful, the beaches were pristine, and the architecture is a beautiful fusion of native and international flavours. It is also a shoppers paradise, so pack light! What I truly loved about Hoi An, was that the locals moved at their own pace. There was very little rushing and a sense of complete presence in everything they did. Our Western society is so caught up on multi-tasking and doing everything quickly that we don’t actually DO what we are DOING. When we eat, we’re on our phones. When we walk, we’re thinking about where we’re going. Even when we sleep our minds are filled with thoughts….
So my challenge for you is to practice presence and see if you can approach the most seemingly mundane tasks with a beginners mind. I’d love to hear how you go via the Nourish Yoga facebook page.