In search of a missing war buddy

Duck farm

I had no idea what the result of the police raid would be. All I knew is that the police had scheduled a meeting for the landlord and us. There was nothing I could do about it so Drifter and I decided to not worry about it and head off into the unknown.

Drifter had a friend during the Vietnam War. He was a Vietnamese mechanic that lived in a town called Pleiku in the central part of the country. For the past 10 years he has been tracking down clues as to the whereabouts of his missing friend. Many times he followed trails that ended in dead ends. H found that the house was burned down and that His friend was likely hiding from somebody. Last year Drifter put a country wide add in the Vietnamese newspapers with a picture. There was a very guarded response from a person who seemed to know a lot about his friend. Through some digging and following up, Drifter came to the conclusion that his friend may be in the Phan Rang area and that the person who had answered the add may be his


 daughter. Drifter was going to get a bus to the town and then hire a taxi to find this address he had, but it was a good thing we had decided to work it into a road trip. There is no way he would have been able to find what we did eventually find without the freedom of mobility and having a very lucky person (me) that just happened to ask for information from the right people. So the story starts….. 

With butts recovered we headed out for the long 110km drive to Phan Rang. It may not seem far to you, but on a 110cc scooter it can be tough, especially on the roads we had to maneuver. We were no more than 5 km out of NhaTrang when puffy decided she had enough and started bucking and choking like before. His time there was no recovering and the engine died as I pulled into a modern motorcycle repair facility that had just luckily happened to be in the middle of the country. The engine died with a groan as I stopped on the service floor. The mechanic removed the plug and


inspected the electric system before moving onto the fuel system. Sure enough there was no fuel getting to the carburetor. He cleaned the lines and then used compressed air to blow out the line, and half of my gas. I had him install a new filter and 20,000 (1 dollar) later we were on our way. As in other trips, we drove the crazy highway. Half way we stopped in the Cam Ranh area for a lunch on the highway. The locals were thrilled to have a couple of westerners join them. Our hunger sated with BBQ pork ribs and roast chicken, we were again on our way. 

We arrived in Phan Rang with sore bottoms and not a clue as to where to go. Some of our time was spent driving around the main part of the city looking for some kind of area that might have a bar or a hotel that housed a foreigner or two. No such luck!! We gave up and decided to try to find this mysterious person who had sent the message to Drifter months earlier. As it turned out, we only had a partial address that led us away from Phan ran on a highway that lead towards the Cambodian border. By stopping and asking directions many times, we were able to narrow the search to an

Duck Farm Again

 area the size of a suburb, still a lot of area to cover. Around back streets and small lanes we cruised, stopping frequently to ask for directions, or to show the address. All in vain. We were about to give up and head back but for some reason I drove up to a couple of ladies selling drinks in a dusty roadside shop and showed the address. We also had a phone number that up until now had not worked. The ladies spent some time looking, arguing, calling people over, until finally we hit pay dirt. Somebody seemed to know something and we were told to have a seat. All of this ruckus had gotten a lot of attention and we were now surrounded by quite a number of people trying to aid us. They now knew that we were looking for a friend that had disappeared and they were determined to help us. A little time passed and a woman that looked very much like an ex “working girl” was towed by hand to us. Her English was excellent and Drifter and her conversed about the situation. The number was called and there was an answer!! Wow!! The situation was explained to the person on the phone but she was scared and did not want to meet with

People trying to help

Drifter. Could this be the daughter of a man that was in hiding? It looked like it. After much persuading, and giving personal information to prove we were not hostiles, the woman agreed that she would meet with him. At last, after more than 30 years it is looking like Drifter may have found the daughter of his friend and get to the bottom of things.

To be continued……….

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

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