HO CHI MING CITY, Vietnam ó Itís funny how a personís hopes, fears and needs change with age.
As a 19-year-old soldier in Vietnam, I hoped for one thing ó to get out of the jungle alive. Today, Iíve traveled to the other side of the world wanting to walk deep into that jungle one more time.
Thatís my plan as I spend my final days in Vietnam. I canít tell you why Iím doing this, only that I feel I really need to. I cannot wait to go.
Elsewhere on this trip:
Tuesday, March 5: Weet to visit a Kindergarten school for four- and five-year old Vietnamese children in a fishing village named Phong Nam. The kids were absolutely wonderful. Very curious, very friendly and extremely well behaved. They loved having their pictures taken and looking at them on the camera.
We walked further into the village of Phong Nam and visited the home of the previous village mayor, who was also a Viet Cong company commander during the Vietnam War. The village was a Viet Cong village during the war. Talked to the gentleman, who was approximately 70 years old. He remembered a fire fight his soldiers had with the 173rd Abn Bde in 1969.
Later, we went to Hoi An, a once thriving trading port. It is extremely beautiful and thriving with the tourist trade. Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
After returning to hotel in DaNang, made reservations to play golf on the DaNang Golf Course, which is a Greg Norman course. DaNang has approximately 800,000 to 1 million people, with only two golf courses.
Wednesday, March 6: Departed DaNang Airport at 7 a.m. to fly to Ho Chi Ming City. Arrived approximately 8:20 a.m. and drove from airport to Cu Chi tunnel north of Ho Chi Ming City (Saigon) and toured the Cu Chi tunnels surrounding Saigon (Ho Chi Ming) for approximately five hours. The Cu Chi tunnels started south of the Ho Chi Ming trail all the way to the Saigon River. Also branched out. There were three levels to the tunnels with sleeping quarters, kitchens, meeting rooms, munitions factories, hospital ward for operations and recovery rooms. The people dug this 120 to 180 mile network of tunnels by hand and usually at night. There are approximately nine million people in Saigon (Ho Chi Ming). It is a very cosmopolitan and developing city.
Thursday, March 7: Visited the largest open air street market in Vietnam. Must have been 300,000 to 400,000 people or more.
Visited the Historic Reunification Hall, formerly known as the Presidential Palace. This is where the south surrendered to the north and Vietnam was made whole. Visited the Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral, considered two of the most beautiful colonial structures in S.E. Asia.
Lima veteran Ray Magnus