My Lai was almost twenty kilometers from Quang Gnai, and another five kilometers past My Lai was the beach. It was a lo-o-ong, white beach and it was deserted. Just us! We spent the rest of the day swimming and sunning before hiking over to a new resort (the only one on this stretch of beach) to get some crab soup. The resort was like the Petronias Hotel, where we had eaten breakfast earlier that day, built and waiting for tourists to arrive, with vacant rooms and dusty beds and a staff of twenty lethargically-challenged teenagers sitting around wiping spoons, mopping floors and smoking cigarettes.
Two young men traveling around the country on scooters, Fred (American) and Cham (Vietnamese), drove in and we got to talking. Fred had been teaching in China and spoke Chinese but was doing a pretty good job with the Vietnamese. He proudly showed us the nasty scar on his stomach from getting his gall bladder removed in an emergency operation in Saigon. 'If I'd had this operation done in America it would have cost me $100,000,' he said. 'But in Saigon, it only cost me $5,000.'
The beach, looking both ways.