Storm at China Beach

Along the South China Sea, just south of the old DMZ near Da Nang, lies a strip of beach that extends as far as the eye can see. Most days, the sun is hot and the surf has a gentle swell that calls to surfers and sunbathers alike. Here is where battle-weary US soldiers used to find peaceful relaxation from their war-torn experiences, in what the locals here refer to as the American War.

Nowadays, this beach has a more indigenous name, My Khe, and sits in the shadow of Marble Mountain, lined with towering hotels and beachside golf courses. It’s a far cry from even twenty years ago when I first came here and there was nothing but beach.

Today, the checkered history is interrupted by a tropical storm rolling ashore. Blackened skies and building waves greet me with a blast of humidity as the now-empty beach faces the approaching weather front. The heavy clouds are an earthly reminder of a distant past where light and dark, life and death, and imperialist dreams were constants so many years ago.