A breath of fresh air

Being out in nature is perhaps one of the most natural and therapeutic things us humans can do.

By KEVIN RAISON on August 09,2019 09:47 AM

A breath of fresh air

PHOTO NGUYEN PHONG

The curated landscapes, waterfront, flowers, and other sites will certainly keep anyone with a camera entertained for much of the day and, should one be so inclined, they can stay the night. For fans of Tolkein’s works, it’s a stop in central Vietnam not to be missed.

Dawn. Come to think of it, we as humans are inextricably linked to it and the light that it brings forth, illuminating mist gliding silently between the not-quite valleys and hills sheltered, for a brief moment, from the noise of the day and the dark of the night. In this almost-morning it seems as though the trees are talking; a soft occasional whisper from pines that have seen the most horrific of tribulations and the most beautiful of miracles play out through their lives. Life, death, laughter, song; they’ve seen it all, I suppose, while forever stretching upwards. How does it come so natural to a pine not to worry - or why does it come so natural for humans to do so?

Dawn. It brings with it the promise of a new day, fruit from the land, air in one’s lungs, memories to make, and smiles to be shared. And yet, to so many of us, dawn and the morning it ushers in seem almost oppressive. Forcibly pressed and molded into a daily routine, yes, this is what seems to shroud the miracle - the pure statistical anomaly of life - from our eyes. Dawn means the alarm clock buzzing, waking up, putting on clothes, going to school or work, watching TV, going to bed. Rinse and repeat. But it could mean so much more. It could, like the morning I gazed at a town beginning to awake, be beautiful, if only people could just reorient themselves. Perhaps then the mist of daily drudgery might roll back like dawn pushes back the mist to reveal endless possibilities beyond.

No matter how “serious” one takes
camping, it’s a chance to reconnect
- if not with nature then at least with
those you travel with and the sense
of being in your own skin.

No matter how “serious” one takes camping, it’s a chance to reconnect - if not with nature then at least with those you travel with and the sense of being in your own skin.

I inhale, feeling the muscles in my lungs stretch them wider, creating a pressure difference forcing the environment around me to compensate and fill the void in my chest, all to initiate an unimaginably complicated chemical process of filtering out the vital gases from the environment now resting not inches from my heart while simultaneously mixing waste gases with the environment so as to expel it.

I exhale. I suppose this is why I enjoy camping, for how it can help me collect myself and remember that life isn’t really that complicated and that even a simple breath of air is something one can feel grateful to review.

While one can find such a breath of fresh air almost anywhere, I opted for Dong Do - soc son, a region regarded for how beautiful and unspoiled it is in its nature. The lakes by the rolling hills (some might ambitiously call them mountains) are, well, there’s another little word for it: unspoiled. While some camping spots are little more than fields off a busy road, this area is much more of an immersion, with little to remind one’s self of the outside world. One’s view is almost entirely of ever resilient nature: the clear blue water of an expansive lake and the dancing grasses at the feet of pine trees. It’s a place for being in the moment, where youth can learn the value of getting off social media for once to instead swim or trek, or where couples can just be alone together. It’s a place to camp as authentically as one can anywhere in the world - all but an hour’s drive from Hanoi. For a weekend revival, there is no place better, though, admittedly, even if you’re hoping to “unplug” you’ll almost certainly want to take more than a few photos in this oasis of nature.

For those who want something a touch more whimsical, the Bach Ma forest beckons, though look closely was you walk else you might miss it - a hole in the ground. But, as was best put by Mr. Tolkein himself: “Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat.” No, what you’ll find there is a hobbit-hole, “and that means comfort.” The national park is not even 40 km from the center of Hue and where one can find a series of low hills with homes half above and half below ground, just as in the The Lord of the Rings. The curated landscapes, waterfront, flowers, and other sites will certainly keep anyone with a camera entertained for much of the day and, should one be so inclined, they can stay the night. For fans of Tolkein’s works, it’s a stop in central Vietnam not to be missed.

A breath of fresh air

For those who want the camping experience but feel they can’t give up the comforts of home, “glamping”, a portmanteau of glamor and camping, means going on the adventure but finding a real bed, proper sheets, comfortable furniture, and the comforts of home all provided at one’s destination. For those in the south, CoCo Beach in Binh Thuan province provides a unique experience, with large canvas tents set up in a bohemian/ gypsy style along the shore providing a very “outdoors” feel while still providing ready access to food and drinks. The tents are available in a range of sizes, from large 15-person party-sized tents to much more intimate couples’ tents. While in such a setting one is certainly far from roughing it, it still accomplishes the same goal of helping one change their surroundings for a weekend or longer to better allow them to pause and reflect on the here and now. The fact that the accommodations are beyond instagrammable is very much beside the point, of course.

No matter how “serious” one takes camping, it’s a chance to reconnect - if not with nature then at least with those you travel with and the sense of being in your own skin. I’m not a doctor, but I personally feel such outings are almost therapeutic in a way. Perhaps not for my back - as up in the mountains I seem to always find every root to lay upon - but certainly for my soul. At the very least, I’ll see dawn as a beautiful opportunity and the sun a herald of new adventures to come.

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