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
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
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
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!