Cross-Border Trade

Cross-Border Trade
Originally uploaded by paulbrockmann.

As I mentioned earlier, this is not a formal border crossing; indeed,

on the Chinese side at least I noticed a few soldiers with binoculars,

who I assumed were watching for illegal border-crossing attempts. It

interested me that on the Chinese side, there’s quite a bit of

development: this is clearly a regional draw, with tour groups coming

from Guangzhou, Nanning and elsewhere in the region. There are TONS of

stalls selling useless trinkets, what looks like a rather nice hotel

with views right out over the waterfalls and a decent restaurant, and

so on. Though it wasn’t overrun with tourists the day I was there, it

was certainly a popular attraction.

On the Vietnamese side, there are very few people. In some of the

following shots, you’ll glimpse the small footbridge that allows

people to cross from the mainland over onto the little island in the

middle of the two different sets of cascades — the island is in

Vietnam, and the boats that operate from the Chinese side come right

up to it, but no one is allowed to step out. However, the enterprising

young man here has set up a small operation from which he sells

drinks, cigarettes and various little trinkets to folks on the boats.

I found myself contemplating the meanings of borders and of history a

bit as I wandered the trails around these lovely falls. Any American

of my generation grew up knowing there was this dreadful war with

which so many in my country disagreed — for me and many like-minded

Americans of my generation, Vietnam has been for a long time a symbol

of American foreign policy gone tragically astray. It felt nice,

thirty years after my country stopped trying to defoliate Vietnam and

crush their independence, to give a wee bit back by buying a bottle of

water from this guy. 🙂 And on a broader note, to think about the

fact that thirty years ago, no American would have been welcome

anywhere near this spot — whereas now, I can have nice talks with my

fellow tourists and even a bit of a chat with the young soldier who

encouraged me to take the boat tour…for which I thank him, since it

was indeed interesting.

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