Wednesday, June 9, 2010

China Beach - Reflections on Vietnam

This is one TV series that caught my attention due to the catchy song by Diana Ross and the Supremes - Reflections.

Never mind that this is one series is poorly rated, eventhough the critics loved it. It was screened for four fantastic seasons from 1988 until 1991, and I guess this is one series I would remember my life in Dungun in the late 80s.

Once I watched it, I was hooked. I thought that it was one series that depict the Vietnam war from the perspective of the civilians - the US Army nurses, officers, and volunteers and how the Vietnam war impacted the lives of the non-combatants. Despite the perspective of civilians, the show did not shy away from showing the gruesome of war.

But there weren't endless of gruesome, and certainly not just for the sake of it. In China Beach, it is the human characters, and relationships that count, and it made it palatable to my mind.

Of course the main attraction was Dana Delaney, who played Colleen McMurphy, a US Army nurse at the 510th Evac Hospital, in Vietnam. I thought she was one fine actress, and her character was always poignant. The show is almost always about human relationship, in the context of war, so I can always relate to it.

Hehe, but I think it is more like watching her ;-)
This is one show I would not mind buying the DVD set which I believe has not be released yet, for some reasons. I would love watching this again and again.

When I started frequenting Vietnam in 1995 - the early days of Vietnam opening her door and you can count on the number of visitors by hand, I asked the clients about China Beach and of course no one knew about it. China Beach refers to a beach supposedly located in Da Nang but it was a nickname given by foreigners, so obviously the Vietnamese themselves have no clue of the existence of this particular beach.

Then it was tough to travel in Vietnam - I have difficulty to ask a restaurant to cook me fried rice with just eggs and veggie. That was about the only thing I could eat. Of course now in Vung Tau there are many Indian muslim restaurants and I even met a Campa muslim waiter while dining at a restaurant in HCM City.

I have a lot of respect for the industrious Vietnamese. After a few trips in the mid 90s, I told myself that in 20 years, they could surpass us if we were to stay stagnant. They are certainly unlike the people depicted in many Vietnam war movies or even China Beach. In some ways they were - resilient despite the hardship of war. They were unlike those depicted in the flying letters in the 70s - the communist regime bent on spreading their ideologies throughout South East Asia.

They are nice, soft spoken people and very friendly and gracious as hosts.

No comments:

Post a Comment