Descending the Dragon: Mong Cai to Hoi An, Vietnam (Asia): April-May 2001
TEAM: Jon Bowermaster • Peter Getzels • Polly Green • Rob Howard •Ngan Nguyen PHOTOS: Rob Howard
My initial request to bring kayaks to Vietnam was greeted by the government in Hanoi with five simple words: 'That will be quite impossible.' Unprecedented, unnecessary, unsafe, unwise, he continued. More than a year of negotiating followed, as well as a cash imbursement ('filming permit'), before I was allowed to ship the kayaks and apply for visas for a five-person team.
My goal was straightforward: To kayak the coastline from near Mong Cai on the China border to Hoi An, just south of Danang. I was drawn to Vietnam by just how little I knew about life there post-1975. Steeped in the country's history, I arrived with eyes wide open, repeating over and over the mantra 'it's a nation, not a war...a nation, not a war...a nation, not a war...'