welcome to the haikutimes

Issue #91, Cat Ba Island, Vietnam, July 7-8, 2004

bug falls on breakfast
hanoi streetside comes to life
shopkeepers yawning

bug falls on breakfast
paige startles; chopsticks clatter

tiny plastic chairs
ubiquitous street decor
florescent lights glare

no regulations
to keep vendor from selling
his fish on sidewalk

stink of greywater
mingles with diesel exhaust
and sweaty t-shirt

roosters on baskets
two million motorbikes
roaring and clucking

wish I had ipod
seventeen long years ago
while in new zealand

traffic much the same
from here on up to china
minus the blue trucks

heifer on highway
front to future, back to past
udder to rudder

tall, narrow houses
ornate front, featureless sides
books in a shelf

it's the asian way
bikers with pointy straw hats
carry it all

trusting everyone
except for those you can't trust
travelers' mantra

turquoise room, white cross
elephant planter box
fried fish, bulging eyes

south china sea
so far away from home
all is placid

kitsch penguin trashcans
in grand stalagmite cavern
yawning yellow beak

cicadas buzzing
like restless chainsaw motor
in humid cavern

flashing us their soles
do i deserve such insult?
cultural divide

supremely placid
open sea, limestone garden
humid, sticky heat

in specimen room
looks like ghetto taxidermy
moth-eaten mammals

low belt evergreen
tropical monsoon forest
ice cream for sale

australian group
with after shave more pungent
than forest flora

tropical forest
with five new species
of water bottle

easy to rent
a motor scooter
for a day,
an old honda with three gears .
you can go to
the national park
with the rest of them, honking, weaving,
being honked at -
it is clear why everyone
has a motorbike,
starting with filling the tank
to the brim for 80 cents,
the quick easy rush
of getting there fast,
whole families fitting on one bike,
young boys holding on to the
steering wheel at the front,
adopting to the ways of their elders,
as they have for generations.

cruising in third gear past
rice paddies, shacks of mats,
contrasts to
the newly developed beach resort,
workers still transplanting
palm trees around orange
stucco hotel prospects -

after cheering them on
i help a group carry a palm tree
with root ball intact,
gaining immediate favor
for my muscular efforts.
we are unable to find
golden-headed langurs, serows,
macaques or sambars,
but instead are surprised by a giant X
in a spider web
it's creator nearby, four inches wide
with black belly and
green stripes,
another in red and yellow,
not to mention millipedes,

bushwhacking impossible
no hope in finding
that rare species of flower
without being immediately stuck
in dense undergrowth.
we climb a tower instead
and look out over undisturbed
hillocks of limestone covered
in green.

mean ticket lady
asks us for 5000 dong
small girl shits nearby

cat ba high rises
spring up with tourist dollars
pink, blue, yellow, green

looking for a hotel
we get a ride to Cat Ba
on the backs of mopeds
and are promptly
dropped off at their friends' hotel
not liking their assumption
that we want to stay there
we walk off in a travelers' huff
and go to the spot that looked good
in lonely planet
the only room left -
something on the 6th floor
the room is like a florescent cave
glassy tile walls and ceilings
dirt and mold and a concrete balcony
we tell ourselves that
we should just deal - it's cheap
i want to go but we are
already washing clothes
i put extra soap in the basin
suprise myself when
the entire sink collapses
into one hundred pieces
on the floor the flexible water lines
now spurting and leaking
i am dumbfounded
but this is an opportunity
to get the hell out of
this ceramic white florescent cave
we just leave
and hope they deal

didn't like the room
finally got a chance to bolt
when the sink collapsed

on red cliff walkway
butterflies blue and yellow
evade camera

solo/group kukai
jonathan machen