Friend or Foe?

Dinner party

Today we have a person coming in for an interview. It is becoming important to hire and train somebody for the night shift. The family member we have looking after the position now spends way too much time drinking and not working. I cannot really blame him. He works with computers, not as a night receptionist, and is unhappy. This is becoming a real inconvenience as last night we had a dinner date, and he never showed for work. Luckily, I have a very reliable nephew that helps as a handyman. He sat in the lobby while we were gone. I only had to rush back for one emergency. I got back to the hotel at 10:00 pm to hear the machine gun like chatter of internet installation. To run power to modems, they were required to drill holes through mortar and brick. What a mess! I think the cleaning staff is in for a bad day. But worst of all, when it was finally time for bed, I went to lock the front gate. Some

Happy birthday to Thu

 IDIOT!! Tried to force it closed, and had bent the channel the track runs in. Boy was I mad…. Instead of going to sleep, I had to climb 5 flights of stairs to get a ladder, and then carry it all the way down. After finally fixing the broken track, I went to lock up. The newly repaired door handle broke again!! This is not retirement… it is a lot of work. Today poses a couple of challenges. The shower in my room ceased functioning, also, and the mess from the internet installation has to be cleaned. I had another interesting experience today. I took Ken to a massage parlor that is exclusively run by the blind. They are professionally trained and we did get a very good massage. I now have the base to compare massages in the future. There were no extra services offered for those of you in the know, it is a totally legit place and worth going to if massage is your thing.

After the Americans withdrew, life became very hard for those who were involved in any way with them. People lived in fear and many died. Some of the older children in Mai’s family were able to escape by boat and make it to America and start a new life. Mai just woke up one morning to discover that some of her loved ones were gone, and maybe forever. I cannot imagine how a teenage girl would feel in that situation. Those who chose not to escape, or did not have the means, were sent to camps for re-education. Property was being confiscated, and after losing one house, Mai’s father started to strategically divide up the land for individuals in order to keep as much as he could. It was a good idea and it seemed to work. The powers that be at the time were vigorously mopping up all the loose ends left by the Americans. The pressure in Mai’s fathers mind must have been enormous. Children that he did not know were dead or alive, the constant fear of discovery of his involvement with his comrade’s, and still having eight or nine kids to care for and protect. So under new rule, the family carried on. Because Mai’s father was an architect, he was spared some of the hardships that others experienced, but he still had hard times all the same. He sacrificed everything to his children, including his life in the end, and little by little was forced to sell of small plots of land to support them. In the end, he had a single large house in the middle of a large area he used to own. Mai and I now have possession of the property and will do our very best to preserve his last remaining asset. This house is all that is left of his legacy, and I sometimes come to tears when I think of the courage and sacrifice he was forced t face. Damn!! I wish I could have met the man, alas, his death is part of Mai’s story, and I will address that later.

Life was hard. Mai’s older brothers and sisters were sent to very undesirable places, and because they were from the south, job prospects were not good. Even to this day, if you are from the north, jobs are plentiful, but people who were joined with or presumed to be with the Yanks have a distinct disadvantage. Now wait a minute!!  Do not blame the Americans for the hardship. Americans are loved here, (at least in the south and central) as they were here trying to help. When I was here in the 90’s I was spit on and harassed in some places. I thought it was because they thought I was American…. But No!!  It was because they thought I was

A boy and his cows

French, or German, or Canadian. We were part of the united nations that were yelling and screaming for the Americans to cease and withdraw. To the Vietnamese I know, it was the Americans that were here to save them, and the United Nations that destroyed them…. Huh!! Imagine that….things you will never see in our newspapers…. We were the bad guys….The resentment has all but disappeared now. A new generation has replaced the old, and the hatreds of the past have dimmed. Now that I have become so immersed in their life and customs, I understand things and hear things of which the western world has no idea, stories to be told in a coffee shop or a lounge over drinks.  Seems I got a bit sidetracked. See you tomorrow

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Owee

Tour designer and Guide specializing in off the beaten track tours of Vietnam

One thought on “Friend or Foe?

  1. When I visit I will tell you the story of my friend Ho, who I am still trying to locate. I have some leads after 6 years of trying to track him dowm. Very similar story, reeducation camps and so on. See you soon and please have all those little quirks worked out by April ok? Night desk clerk????? has a nice rng to it, I’ll interview for that position when I visit.

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