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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Room at the Saigon Morin Hue City

This room was wonderful and capped off my stay in Hue City at the fabulous Saigon Morin Hotel. The rooms are spacious and the service is everything you would expect from a 5 star hotel. The window area is actually French doors that open on to a balcony that overlooks the wide tree lined street next to the Perfume river, where you can get tours to the pagodas and temples. Fresh fruit is replaced daily as is a delicious little nugat candy covered with sesame seeds. Each floor has it's own desk so if you need anything you don't have to go down stairs for it. The pool at the Morin is also nice. I spent a refreshing afternoon swimming there after trekking over "Hell, creation and half of Hue City" searching for a particular Convent.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Waiting for Rau Moung at Table # 3

This fine afternoon of walking around DaNang was topped off with a delicious lunch at this neighborhood eatery. Rau moung was on the menu, which is the simplest of Vietnamese dishes. It features a delicate water lily or water spinach and it's sauteed in garlic and oil....lots and lots of garlic, but it is sooo good. The waitress had a bit of a time with my digital camera but after about the 3rd shot she finally got it. Dr. Ha and nurse Hien along with Hien's cousin who is going to be a dental assistant came along on the walk-about. I was tersly told not to film any military installations, which I didn't and after that I just wanted to hide, the Army regular was pretty touchy about me tryin' to film a likeness of "Uncle Ho" that was painted on a wall outside his base. he was on guard duty and he was probably puttin' on the show if his seargent was watching or if I was a test spy sent in to try and put him off his game. I should have asked his 1st general order and waited for a response. Which is "I will not leave my post until officially relieved" or some such nonsense. We had a great lunch and then it was time for me to get packed for my little trip to Hue City through the Hai Van Pass by car, NOT by the tunnel or train which I had originally wanted.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Dr. Ha dentist extrordinaire

This very pretty girl is Dr. Ha, one of the dentists at the East Meets West Dental Clinic in Da Nang. Her boyfriend is also very nice but doesn't know much english, why should he. We were out on the town this particular afternoon and when we returned he had arrived. Dr. Ha is one of the newest members of the staff and she is very vivacious and quite the talker. Always making jokes and teasing me especially. I hear the Humanitarian tour is in Da Nang this week and on "Outreach" which makes everyone nervous and very busy because there's so much work to be done preparing and upon clean-up. It's all worth it though when you have the kids smiling at you and thanking you for helping them. These NGO"s "non governmental organizations" do wonderful work all over the world and hopefully they 'll be allowed to continue this very important work, not just the dental work but the goodwill it spreads for all of us.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Access road from the back of a xe om

This little access road runs between the old HWY 1 and the new HWY 1. The new being a divided 4 lane with all the amenities and the old hwy being the 2 lane that ran the length of Vietnam in the 60's and 70's. Many parts of the hwy have been redone near the major towns but close to Cam Rahn and my old base Dong Ba Thin it's still the old hwy. One of the funny things I found out on my return trip this year having visited my old stomping grounds near Cam Rahn was that a small town next to our base that we used to call "My Thanh" was actually named Tam Thanh and that the large sign we all took for the name of the town was in fact just an advertisement for one of the popular coffees "My Thanh". Ok so we were'nt the sharpest knives in the drawer, everyone still knew where we were talking about.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Dong Ba Thin, Vietnam

For those of you who may think this is a picture about nothing you may be right. Although there was a time back in 1967-1971 that this little strip of land was known as Dong Ba Thin, home of the 92nd Assault Helicopter Company and the cows in the background are grazing on what's left of the flight line. This is the one side of the base, the larger one on the Cam Rahn Bay side of HWY 1 and below is the side I was stationed on the smaller side. I spent close to 6 months in this location before being restationed to Camp Holloway in Pleiku with the 3rd AHC. Hopefully I will visit Pleiku on my next trip to Vietnam and maybe my friend Tom Han from Los Angeles and formerly of Pleiku will come with me and show me the sites. I heard that most of Pleiku city was destroyed in 1975 upon the take over by the North and with fierce fighting near the center of town most of it was demolished. Notice the mountains in the rear, when I traveled by train through this area last September 2005 the train goes behind those mountains and reappears further up the coast near Nha Trang. Beautiful train travel in Vietnam

Friday, January 06, 2006

Me, My, Mom, Grandma

This is my little friend My. Her grandma owns a small stall behind the Saigon Morin Hotel in Hue City. I stopped there everyday for a cold drink or an afternoon tra "ja" which is tea. My would come right up to me and jump on my lap, not afraid of me at all. She was facinated with my digital camera and when she saw her own piture she said"MY!" Her family treated me so nice and I had my laundry done there also. Boys from down the block would stop in to buy 1 or 2 cigarettes at a time, as they played cards or dominoes. Most of the workers at the hotel parked their xe oms (scooters) behind the hotel and alot of them would stop for tea or "bat xeu" which is expresso coffee mixed with condensed milk....very good but alittle on the sweet side for me, served hot or on ice it's very good and very popular.

Tree lined avenue...Hue City

I was strolling down this avenue along the Perfume River not far from my hotel. Shortly after I took this picture I heard a school bell ring, just behind the wall on the right. Then there was bedlam as a mass of teenage kids got released from their hot midday school rooms for lunch. Then it's outside for a quick trip home for lunch or icecream and a snack from many of the food vendors along this busy street. These wide tree lined avenues are very common in Hue City, that's what makes it one of the most beautiful in Vietnam. Sadly over 80% of the city was destroyed during the Tet offensive of 1968 and the fierce fighting that took place house to house .

French Catholic Church

This church is located near the Saigon Morin Hotel in Hue City. It is tucked away behind large trees and not very easy to find. The court yard is beautiful and shady all day so it gets alot of locals hanging around and having their lunch there. Spectacular building and I would have loved to go inside but it was closed, maybe on my next trip I'll go there on Sunday. They still have mass there.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Hue City Mother Superior

This tiny lady offered me such hospitality when I visited her convent in Hue. I was looking for a friend I had met last year and when I introduced myself she brought me into her office and made me tea and gave me a very delicious lime flavored yogurt that she had made, it was quite good. The convent was in the middle of a renovation and was adding dorm rooms for the new nuns. They were being trained as teachers and nurses. There was quite an impressive computer library on the premises also.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Lang Co Beach Church

This little church is located just outside of the Lang Co Beach area on the Hue City side of the Hai Van mountains. Nestled into the mountain side it's protected from the storms coming off the ocean. Hue City has many Catholic churches and convents as I came to find out. I met a French speaking American outside the Saigon Morin Hotel in Hue on the final morning of our visit in 2004. Renee was his name and he had served there in the 70's like me and we swapped small talk about the country and he's now a semi retired tennis pro. He comes to Vietnam and lives in a convent in Hue teaching French and English to students. He is a very interesting guy and upon my return I tried to locate him but couldn't find him. I visited 3 of the 10 convents in Hue and had no luck. I also tried at the tennis courts but the workers didn't remember him either. I couldn't believe there were 10 convents in Hue and each had 40-50 Novices.