Charlie Don’t Surf

Captain Killgore from Apocalypse Now

About a year ago I was sitting in my living room discussing with my girlfriend where in Asia we might take my first “non-surf holiday”. It was kind of a big deal to me; the idea of actually going on a non-family trip without boards? Few weeks later I find myself in North Vietnam on a boat trip (without boards). 

judging by the beard, this guy has seen some serious shit go down in his day

Halong Bay is an incredible place (the locals love to tell you that a scene from James Bond was shot there) but the chances of finding a wave are about as slim as finding a McDonalds. There’s over 1,900 islands– most of which are un-inhabited – and some trippy floating villages. 

halong bay

Back in Hanoi we had a few days left and were debating where to go.

cars are the minority in the city where he with the fastest moped is king

As I flipped through the lonely planet I couldn’t help but hear the Wagner as I stopped on the China Beach page (where the GIs used to go for R&R). It’s a classic scene: the hell-bent General with the cowboy hat on the beach, mortars detonating left and right, choppers with boards strapped on the side blasting Wagner and soldiers surfing a mushy beach break in the background. When I first saw Apocalypse Now I remember picking up the old atlas (pre google-earth days) and checking out where the hell the coast was. A quick poke around surfline and I’m passionately pitching to my girlfriend the abundant cultural attractions of the central coast (by no means untrue).

local fishing boat

A dirt cheap flight later and we’re pulling up to a recommended hostel on the infamous China Beach. The look on her face when we rocked up to the owners little shop and noticed some old crappy boards in the corner was classic. At dawn for the next three days (because daytime was reserved for non-surf activities) I had some fun sessions in the South China Sea.

a little piece of sunshine making this goofy footer a happy camper

And every morning while the local workers bathed in the shallows, I was all by myself in the lineup- Charlie don’t surf *   

Taylor Steele is set to release his second sipping jetstreams film and it includes a Vietnam section. Curious to see what they found

*note: I’m well aware “Charlie” is not exactly a politically correct word given the horrible events that transpired but it’s a direct reference to the line in the movie

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