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Traveling the River

Lying on the deck of the 16-passenger multicolored 30-foot boat where the anchor and rope chain are stored I find a small clear spot on the wooden deck one-meter square. I put my sweatshirt under my head and close my eyes searing red from the mid day Vietnamese sun. I listen to the rhythmic slapping of the Perfume River on the hull mingling with the tin loudspeaker of distant temple and honk of horns on the shore. I drift off into what I think is light sleep, closer to a narcoleptic comma. This is the romance of traveling in Asia on a mid winter day. The reality is a different story. VietnamTemple2Boat trips and train trips share the same charm of looking forward to and back on them. In truth it is chilly but the diesel fumes in the enclosed cabin is overwhelming and driven me to the deck. It is cold and the deck hard, but I am so exhausted from travel and sleeping on unfamiliar hard beds with nonexistent pillows I fall quickly into a deep sleep. I awake stiffly an hour later. Memories of six temples and tombs roll through my head topsy-turvy like a continuous Marx Brothers movie. Half my body is asleep, the portion that isn’t is sore, stiff and cold. This is the reality of a river trip. This is the lesson of the Buddha.VietnamTemple_copy

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