Escape or die trying Mai’s Story

A nice basket

Secure in my manhood, I re-attached the basket that Brad had removed from the motorcycle. I am in need to carry puffy things and I do not care who see’s it! Yesterday I went for a drive on an access road that enters the city. It was one of two roads that entered Nha Trang and still to this day has the Bunkers left untouched that the military manned to check the comings and goings during the war. This is an area I know very little about. I was advised by somebody that it was a bit of a seedy area soooooooo…… In my never ending curiosity of discovering everything about this place, I checked it out. Towards the end of the road I was travelling, there were a number of small guest houses in an area where no tourist would stay. Perhaps truck drivers? Aha!! Ever been to Nevada where there are brothels? I have, and most of

A canal in the Mekong

them are frequented by truckers wanting a cold beer and maybe a little nudge nudge wink wink. I loaded Mai on the back of the bike after dark and returned to the line of guest houses… Sure enough, There were ladies sitting on the roadside seemingly enjoying the night air whilst, some groups of men were across and down the road talking and pointing to them. It is a truly appropriate saying they have here….. “Same Same but different”. I will be heading back to Saigon yet again very soon. I would rather not, but business and retrieving my stolen wallet is a priority. It is amazing how much business I can drum up by just sitting and helping people with their travel plans. I do not try so sell the hotel, but it always ends up about me telling my

A Grass Hut

story. After that it seems to come naturally and word of mouth gets us bookings. Most of the people who come to visit me here, end up staying and enjoying our place, however, some want the bars and the girls, so I send them to a place that I know and trust to make them happy. I just finished looking on the computer and it seems unless I want to pay a higher rate, most flights are booked until the end of march. Sheesh!! Maybe a night bus or train is in my future. Mai started working in the black market trying to make as much money as she could to support het escape attempts. It was not cheap, nor was it safe to attempt such a thing.

A country band

The chance of being murdered or killed by accident in escape attempts were a very high percentage, but she did not care. There had to be something more in life. Mai established a fairly lucrative business of smuggling sharks fin in American military gas cans that had been cut along the seams. The bottom would be filled with the fins and water, the top with petrol. After she collected enough money It was time for her to attempt the escape. She contacted a group that was going to make a break for the beach in a deserted

Bell fruit

location. A group of about twenty people huddled in the jungle close to the beach waiting for dark. There were basket boats on the shore and a larger craft a little ways out. When darkness struck, everybody started to run for the boats and freedom. Unknown to them, they had been sold out by the very people who were helping them to escape. It was a common tactic for some very unscrupulous people to make money. They would enlist as many as possible for the escape attempt, sell them off to the police, and then do again over and over. Mai and all the others were sent to prison. Those who had some money


were able to negotiate their release, but the very poor were forced to serve tough jail time. Not to say it was much easier for those who had money. Firstly, you had to give up all that you had, then the family would have to come and post a bail. All this time you are locked in a prison with officers that have been trained to abuse anybody that were even suspected to be involved with past events. Mai was lucky, her father had money and was able to secure her release after a few days. She also had the fortune that by Vietnamese standards, she was not very desirable, they left her innocence in tact. Out of prison, she once again worked in the black market working as hard as she could to save the money for the next attempt. It took a month or two and she was ready to try again. As before, the escape attempt was sold out by people trying to profit from the desperation of others, and again Mai

A Mekong river boat

ended up in jail. After a number of escape attempts and loss of money, many started to give up. Some of Mai’s sisters stopped trying from either lack of money or fear of being caught again. One of Mai’s escape attempts took her to a mountain where in the guise of being on a pilgrimage to worship, had to climb one of the most rugged mountains I have ever seen. At the top was a temple. After spending the day struggling up the steep climb in blistering heat, they climbed down the other side in stealth and extreme hardship. I have been to this place twice and am always awed that she and others were able to cross this place. I do not think I could do it. Now a person takes a gondola to the top, and had the option of bobsledding down. What did they discover when the exhausted people reached the bottom of the mountain???? Big trucks waiting to haul them all to jail. Somebody had sold them out again. It took Mai 3 years before she was successful with an escape attempt ever one or two months. Every time she ended in jail, and every time she used what money she was able to make, and what her father was able to pay to get her out of jail. She flew in and out of jail so many times that I guess I really did marry a jail bird.

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

2 thoughts on “Escape or die trying Mai’s Story

  1. The tenacity of this people is legendary and the reason they have an independent country today. No sacrifice is too dear. Lookinf froward to sharing some stories with you….soon!

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