7 02 2017

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7 02 2017


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China Beach to Neighbouring Sounds

7 02 2017

The US primetime series China Beach, set in Vietnam War-era Danang, which I used to watch as a young teenager for the theme song, which I only later realised was by the Supremes. And below: another strange cinematic echo of Danang. While walking through the beachside streets my boyfriend remarked how much it reminded him of the Brazilian movie “Neighbouring Sounds”, set in Recife, with its beaches like Danang floodlit at night, fringed by palms and pounded by surf, and the same wide sunny streets with uneasy hints of tension between the rich and poor (after all, who had lived here before all these hotels?)

Sunrise over the South China Sea

7 02 2017

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Riding the back of the dragon

7 02 2017



7 02 2017

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Danang city nights

7 02 2017

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Across the dragon bridge lies the thumping main drag of Nguyen Van Linh, wreathed in neon and lined with blaring cafes and the slightly more sedate, but still buzzing, riverside drive of Bach Dang.

Lovers roam with selfie sticks, vendors sell corn and fishballs on sticks and loud music thumps. Like the other Indochinese people, the Lao and the Thais, the Vietnamese love noise and lights. Whole families promenade, taking pictures of each other, kids treated to helium balloons or plastic toys. The buzz of motorcycles is incessant, cafes are packed in the evening with little stools all facing the footpath and there are pop-up performances in the parks: Vietnamese opera, aerobics or in one case, a blonde woman in a halter-top showing an eager crowd how to dance the macarena.


Even in the beach suburbs, along quiet tree-lined streets, I found constellations of epileptic lights hanging between the branches – whether as new year decorations or all-year installations it was hard to say.


But my favourite night-time entertainment was voyeurism. Whether in the warren-like alleys South of Nguyen Van Linh or the tony streets of the beachside enclave, in the evening locals would open their doors to let in the cool air, and by extension, open their living rooms to the world. As you walk past you can see whole families crowded around flatscreen TVs, or lounging in pyjamas, in front rooms that open directly on to the street. Often, at the centre of the room is a family treasure – a motorbike, safely parked indoors in pride of place – or a flowering tree to celebrate the new year. The floors are usually tiled, walls often painted pale blue or green, and there is almost always a steeply ascending staircase at the back. More than anything else, it was these night-time strolls that gave me a sense of how Danang really lives.