Monday, April 25, 2011

The Whims of Dionysus

From the streets of South LA to the hills of Central ‘Nam, there is one thing that makes us all one: everyone has something to say. 

Yo Dre, the Commies have something to say.

Walter Sobchak: … I did not watch my buddies die face down in the muck so that this fucking strumpet...
The Dude: I don't see any connection to Vietnam, Walter.
Walter Sobchak: Well, there isn't a literal connection, Dude.
The Dude: Walter, face it, there isn't any connection.

Track Tweety

In ‘Nam tourists trickle south from Ha Noi to encounter vestiges of imperial glories and a colonial past, then move into the southern beaches leading into Saigon and finally flow with the Mekong into the South China Sea.  We decided to skip the beaches and go inland. 

Da Lat is a quaint mountain town known for its massive agricultural output, which includes a wealth of fruits and vegetables not seen elsewhere in the region.  Year-round temperate climate make the markets in Da Lat, filled with flowers, berries and peppers, look like you are much further north; far removed from the tropics in the valleys below.  The old French buildings, made to elicit memories of the Alps in the old colonialists hippocampi1, don’t help either.  These days Da Lat is popping up on the radar because it is one of the few wine producing regions in the South East Asia.  So off into the Langbiang Plateau we would go to take a peak into this land of plenty.

Heads of Cauliflower

"Mommy don't leave me"

Apollonian Impulses

Plenty we saw, but not for long.  Bright blue could, and usually would, be swiftly displaced by menacing shades of gray in the blink of an eye.  On a sunny morning we decide to take the risk and go out for a ride.
Finding an escape from the cluttered cluster of small city streets was not trivial.  After many wrong turns and round and round in the roundabout we finally navigated our supped-up Yamaha out of the chaos only to take a one-hour detour away from the endless valleys of vegetables, our intended destination, into hot flat stretches of nothing; my navigation skills were apparently on vacation.
We climb back the hill and finally start moving in the right direction.  We roll through valleys where the apollonian2 impulses of men are as evident as the streaks of gray appearing in the sky.  Neat, ordered rows of vegetables and flowers stretch out as far as the limits of our visual acuity will permit.  Restrained harmony fills the tarps that shield fruits and flowers from the blazing sun.  We seek shelter from the flaming star as well and hide in a pagoda for a little while.  Everyone needs respite.  Some get a chance, other must brave the elements.  

Camouflaged Prayer

White Lines

The Borborygmic3 orchestra starts to play its tune, but a bigger threat is coming from above.  If we hurry we can return to town and avoid the rain, but the likelihood is diminishing with every passing beat.  I swerve through the curves like Valentino but our fate seems to be sealed by the whims of Dionysus2.  He’d rather see me getting wet than me and Lorenzo rollin’ in my rental.

Stormy Weather

You see Dude, there is a connection.

1 The hippocampus is a major component of the brains of humans and other mammals. It belongs to the limbic system and plays important roles in the consolidation of information from short-term memory to long-term memory and spatial navigation.

2 The Apollonian and Dionysian is a philosophical and literary concept, or dichotomy, based on certain features of ancient Greek mythologyApollo and Dionysus are both sons of Zeus. Apollo is the god of the Sun, dreams, reason, and plastic visual arts while Dionysus is the god of wine, ecstasy, and intoxication.

3 Borborygmus (plural borborygmi, pronounced /ˌbɔrbəˈrɪɡməs/; from Greek βορβορυγμός) also known as stomach growling, rumbling, gurgling, grumbling or wambling, is the rumbling sound produced by the contraction of muscles in the stomach and intestines of animals, including humans. 

1 comment:

  1. very intense and beatiful pictures once more. Congratulations! Will study it the next days. How lon are you oin to continue your trip? Enjoy!