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I spend the afternoon tracing the route provided by Bob Rose (my adopted dad) and Thuong. We breeze past the Rex Hotel, Notre Dame Cathedral and spend time at the former Presidential Palace , now Reunification Palace. I notice the gear in comm center is similar to 1st Radio Battalion sigint radios. Must have been the same manufacturer. The BFO is in a different place.

I have always been proud to be a Marine. Then and in my work today, there is an exhilaration attained by doing a job well. I'm struck that NVA tank team 843 entering the Presidential Palace must have likewise been very, very thrilled by their success.

Lam also takes me to a place of less comfort: The War Remnants Museum. U.S. tanks, howitzers, and a helicopter are on display plus hundreds of grim pictures of atrocities we did to them. I warrant that every side is entitled to its own propaganda. Being aware of events their side did to us, it is very one-sided. (Is that the definition of propaganda?) I also see dozens of pictures drawn by children evoking their pain and suffering. The pics remind me of Columbine pictures by our kids. I've thought for twenty years or so that for us veterans the most important work we have is to tell our own story, especially to each other. Tell it once; tell it again, and then again. Maybe children everywhere can be our mentors.

During the day I convert dollars to dongs. One dong equals 1/124 of a cent. That means a 24,000 dong ice cream costs 2 bucks. Got it? A meal of pho bo (beef noodles) plus Tiger beer is 36,000 dong or 3 bucks. Getting easier?

By the way, we will have no chicken with noodles this trip. The avian flu caused government to order destruction of chickens two months ago. Lam tells me KFC is serving beef and seafood dishes. What would Colonel Sanders think? Beef and seafood? Hell, what would Uncle Ho think? KFC? After this flu episode is off the books, Lam believes the government will provide new stock for the chicken farmers.


Wages - A waiter (6 days a week, 9AM - 12 midnight) makes $100 a month. A post office worker with university degree (6 days a week, 9AM - 5PM) makes $100 a month. A rice paddy worker (6-7 days a week, during daylight) makes $40 a month. It is little wonder that Ho Chi Minh City has population of seven million.

Vibrant city - Twenty something’s of Ho Chi Minh City out clubbing until 4-5AM. Sounds like our kids (today, not when I was their age.)

Traffic flow - Three interlacing traffic flows (cars, motorbikes, pedestrians) sometimes going in three directions, all survive. I saw one accident (motorbike) all day. With my guide, I slowly walked across 6 lanes of traffic without getting touched or really feeling in danger. Simply wave my hand up and down rapidly at waist height, pointing into the traffic and it flows around us. DON'T TRY THIS in New York City!