Xin Chào tù Việt Nam,
Whatever happened to the legal doctrine of quiet enjoyment of property? Granted, it’s private property those lawyers like to rabbit on about. But I think the concept should be applied to a wider definition of property; one which includes public places.
After all, when we are enjoying public places aren’t we merely claiming our infinitesimal part of the common estate, just for that temporary use? Perhaps someone should test the concept in one of those landmark civil cases.
Nature and paradise come together?
We have found our way to Phú Quốc, an island off the southern coast of Việt Nam. This is a tropical paradise to which Cambodia also has a territorial claim. For the time being it’s Việt Nam’s. The island is about 40 kms north to South and on a map bears the shape of an apostrophe. The slogan for tourism promotions is “nature and paradise come together”. I’m still struggling with the logic behind this motto, especially in light of our determination to visit places where the people are not.
We visited São Beach yesterday, said to be one of Asia’s best. Yes, it’s a lovely beach but it’s not quite as lovely as it must have been before people arrived. The food and beverage outlets spread onto the sand. There’s occasional rubbish floating in the warm shallow water. But, worst of all, there are noisy boats and jet skis buzzing around everywhere!
These jet skis are the enemy of the beach experience. They don’t seem to serve any purpose except cheap thrills. The riders invariably insist on piloting them close to swimmers. (I suppose this is the whole point, isn’t it: to be noticed.) And they are noisy. Linda puts them very high on her list of pet aversions.
Jet skis symbolise everything which is wrong with the capitalist system. The inventor thought, yes I can make a profit out of these because there will be sufficient numbers of mugs willing to pay. On the other hand, there was no consideration of the desire on the part of everyone else (the vast majority) to enjoy nature without such assistance. Once again, there is no thought of the quiet enjoyment of the public place. The profit motive triumphs over common decency.
We are enjoying our own little nook of tranquility – on the opposite side of the island. Linda says swimming at Mango Bay is like falling into a warm bath. As I write, she’s off undergoing a massage or facial or some such privation. She keeps saying, “this is so beautiful” and “I wonder if foreign investment is allowed here”. Phú Quốc is a 45-minute flight from Hồ Chí Minh City so I have a feeling that we’ll be doing it again . . . and again.
Of course, the quiet enjoyment of public property is increasingly more difficult to attain. Nature and paradise can be one and the same thing, not two things which are mutually exclusive. We generally go to places where the evidence of humanity is as limited as possible. Paradise is a scarcity of humanity, rather than a creation of it. Just as in irritating jet skis at the beach, the source of the problem is easy to spot. It’s the same with almost any issue besetting the planet: too many people.
Hẹn gặp lại from Phú Quốc