World Trip, 2004 - Return to Vietnam, Rick
I left Vietnam in July, 1970 that story is
elsewhere on this site. This is a better story.
Some of you will find this page before the trip page; click thru to include
India, Israel, Jordan and Egypt.
Feb 22, 2004
Five minutes before departure from Hong Kong, we're handed a SARS warning and
questionnaire. "You may be quarantined if you have any of these symptoms: blah,
blah, blah." Lots of grumbling from passengers, as in "What can we do now,
cancel our trip?" but I forge on.
Two and one-half hours later and eighteen hours out of San Francisco I land
in the wonder of Ho Chi Minh City aka Saigon aka Tan San Nhat Airbase amid what
X-gamers would think are inverted half-pipes and Vietnam vets recall as
fortified concrete hangers for fighter jets. Yep, they're still here. No jets
stored within - the jets of today's "Socialist Republic of Vietnam" are on
display on the other side of the airport as we taxi past.
I just flew into Ton San Nhat Airbase once - April, 1970 - to see my adopted
dad, Bob Rose. Then I saw U.S. military aircraft. I know we also could have seen
Pan American contract 707s ferrying us in and out of country. Today the field
contains a myriad of livery colors for jets from around the world. I'm very
pleased the world has found Vietnam and found it to be a better place than we
Entering customs I see an infrared picture of myself. These folks are
serious. If you filled out your SARS quarantine form with, ah, no sir, "I don't
have a temperature above 101 degrees F" they would have napped you anyway. I saw
no one napped.
Outside baggage, I'm met by Lam, age 26, who will be my guide for the
afternoon in Ho Chi Minh City. Lam graduated with a teaching degree from one of
the Universities in Mekong Delta. One of? You mean there are many? Yep. Each has
a particular flavor just as in the colleges of our universities in the U.S.
Lam is pretty easy to talk with; as I ask him for more Vietnamese, he wants
to improve his English. We help each other. Lam's farming grown and bred father
was in the "American" war for one month; then he purposely cut off his thumb and
got a discharge. Sounds like some of the actions a few took in the U.S. in order
to not go to the "Vietnam" war.