Vietnam Trip
October - December 2009
Henry M Bechtold
     
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2009 Trip

Journal of my trip October 2009

Autumn in Kontum

Life in the alley

Saigon Seminary

Markets Western / Eastern

Tan Son Nhat

Woman's Work

Dalat Silk Factory

French Infantry Barracks

National Military Cemetery

 

My wife never worries about me having a mistress because she knows that my mistress is Vietnam, and Vietnam fills me with exquisite joy, and sometimes Vietnam breaks my heart. But then, I guess that is what mistresses do.

The trip is over and I am back home. It is nice to be home for Christmas however I would be going back, in February, if I could afford it. It is not something that will go away. I am getting to adding pages from this new trip. I also have all my photos from the trip on Phanfare . you may see them all there however I have very little identification.

For an update look at my page http://www.henrybechtold.com/2015/2015journal.html and read the entry for Tuesday 7 July. you can also find the photos of this trip at my Phanfare account. Name Henry Bechtold and the date of 7 July 2015.

Rt 1 near the National Military Cemetery has undergone some changes so I have corrected my directions the best I can.

Directions to the National Military Cemetery

South on Rt 1 from Long Binh, Bien Hoa - Pass Vung Tau Cutoff (Big C Store, your near left)

North on Rt 1 - Pass Thu Duc and make a u-turn at the Southwest corner of the former Long Binh Post(Big C store on your far right).

Now all are heading South. Cross Cogido River, Pass Di An Cutoff.

Continue a short distance, Petrolimex Gas Station is on the right, In a hundred feet is a road on your right. At the end of the road you can see the gate to the stairway up to the tomb on the hill. It is not easy to see but it is there.

After visiting the tomb on the hill, as you look at the gate from Rt 1 go to your left around the hill. You come to a cross road and continue straight. Shortly, after a brick yard, is a gate on the right, A small building is inside. You must stop and sign in with the officer. He is pleasant. He may ask if you have a camera and if you do say yes. He allowed me to keep mine and also to take photos. A friend, who was with me, suggested a tip of 100,000 VND for the officer and his assistant. I gave 200,000 to the officer and he shared it with the assistant. The man who was officer is now replaced by a military officer so I do not know if a tip is correct however inside an older lady took us to see the grave of the Unknown Soldier who was reburied after the tomb on the hill was removed in 1975 and he is now in a grave. She also showed us the row of the Generals. I did tip her 50,000 VND, 100,000 VND would not be excessive.

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I sat in the park and watched this little girl for two hours. She went back and forth along the South side of the park. She picked up anything recyclable and put it in one of her 6 bags. A man gave her this bag of trash from a bus and she separated the recyclables, filled her water bottle, poured the remains of a power drink into a smaller bottle and found a few snackes.


At a place near My Tho, where they make coconut candy, there was a cage that had a Boa Constrictor. A boy got the snake out and put it around his neck. Thanh liked the snake and petted it. I asked her to put it around her neck and I was surprised that she did and she liked playing with it.


This is most of the wonderful group that we spent the day with touring the area around My Tho. They were delightful and outgoing and we all had a very nice time. People like this make it so much more special when you travel.


On our last trip to the National Military Cemetery in Thu Duc the assistant in charge of the cemetery asked us if we wanted to see something interesting. We followed him to a grave and the photo on the grave was the statue of the Mourning Soldier. The Officer in charge told Hong something but she was not really sure if he meant the statue is buried or the man who posed for it. The writing on the stone tells us that this is the Unknown Soldier who had been buried in the tomb at the top of the hill in 1968.


Chau fishing for crocodiles inthe lake. The girls had a lot of fun in Suoi Tien but this is oneof the highlights.


Thao Ly and Tram at Suoi Tien. This is the crocodile pond which has hundreds of crocodiles. The girls like fishing for crocodiles but sometimes the crocodiles snap so fast that takes them by surprises.


This is the structure on the roof of the former living quarters for U.S. personnel, one of them being the CIA deputy station chief in Saigon. It is the scene of a famous photo (below) of a helicopter evacuating people as Saigon fell. Many Americans think this is the roof of the embassy but it is not. It is living quarters for U.S. personnel about three blocks South of the Embassy.


Han and I run into each other in the park and he likes to practice his English which is very good. I really like talking to Han because he is so excitable and animated. The girl's name is Yen. Yen lives in the park with her father. Han and I have discussed Yen and her plight and I have told Han that Yen is his "Little Sister" and he has a responsibility for her. Han debates the point and it is good practice of his Englsih.


Hien and I have been penpals for about four years now. We finally were in he same place at the same time and we had a coffee and a time to chat today at the Highland Coffee House at De Tham and Pham Ngu Lao. Hao is a friend of Hien's and came along. The three of us all had a nice time talking.


This is the gateway to a stairs that lead up a hill to the tomb of the unknown soldier. He was an ARVN (Army of the Republic of Viet Nam) soldier and he was interred here. Behind this hill is a large cemetery with a large monument. The government removed the soldier in 1975 and desecrated the tomb. A water plant is behind the hill and covers some of the ground of the adjoining cemetery. If you drive up Rt 1 it is hard to see the gate which is about a quarter mile off rt1. There are no signs or markers and the road leading to the gate has 2 foot swells and foot deep potholes filled with water. The Tomb used to be visible for miles but now it is overgrown and hidden by roadside buildings and huge bill boards. Most taxi drivers will not know it is here. Even My Friend, Mr. Bich, who has had a weekend home nearby, has heard of it but did not know if it existed or not. Mr. Bich asked how I could have seen the gate from the road. I said I knew where it was. It is not on any tour or in guidebooks and the government wants it that way. Only in the last few years has it been removed from off limits. A sign once said “This is where the puppet soldiers pay for their crimes”. Now the overgrowth almost seems to hide and protect the sight. In the cemetery some of the graves are cleaned and cared for by family. Others have no family to care for them. Some graves have no marker. It is a stark contrast to the Ho Chi Minh City cemetery a short distance towards Saigon. HCM City cemetery is nicely planted and maintained. The ARVN buried here are all but forgotten. It is a beautifully sad place and yet very peaceful. It was once open and was hot, the sun beat down. Now the trees and shrubs, growing wild, have made it cool and quiet much like a chapel. The artist who sculpted the Mourning Soldier lives in California, I have heard. It would be nice if he could cast another statue of the Mourning Soldier and they could place it by the road again. To think that so many gave so much and yet nothing was accomplished, nothing was learned.


Chau, Sister Cam Thuy, Thao Ly and Tram. At the Anh Linh Free School


One of the three palaces of Emperor Bao Dai in Nha Trang. He also had three in Dalat. I wonder how many he had all over Vietnam.


Baskets that are a part of the exhibits in the Museum of Ethnic History in Dalat


Yesterday we were without power but the line crew showed up and in a few hours we were up and running.


This Barber Shop proves that no space is wasted. The shop is in a place that is just a little bigger than the chair itself.


Thanh Ngan workes on Bui Vien Street and was in the park one morning


Nguyen Xuan Hai is in his first of 6 years of study after which he will be ordained as a Priest. He told me that the campus was so quiet because much of the stydies were carried out in silence.


Nguyen Thi Thu Nhi and Le Thi Gai were inte park enjoying the festivities of the SEA Indoor Games Celebration.


Thu is left and Mai is right

Mai invited me to her home today for a dinner of some things she liked to cook. Mai is my Little Sister. We have been corresponding for almost a year. Mai is a teacer and she also invited one of her students, Thu. We had a very nice meal of Spring Rolls, Noodles, Meat and a Salad of Lotus Flowers, greens and peanuts.


I was out by the remnants of Petrus Ky University and stumbled on this group. They invited me in and kept the Ice Tea flowing. We talked for two hours with almost no comon language. Still we found that two of us were in the service in 1968. I was in the US Army and Thai was Viet Cong. It was a beautiful time. This group was so happy and fun loving.


Newark to Taipei
Boeing 777 300 ER
Anyone who lived in Philadelphia will recognize the color scheme. PTC Trolly Cream over Green with an Orange stripe around center and a small Cream stripe under the Orange.


Taipei to Saigon
Airbus 330 200


The page you recognized as my home page is still here. You can go down to the link for "2008 Trip". I am now preparing for my upcoming trip of 19 October till 16 December. By October 22 I will be filling in the photos on my home page and writing my journal.

I look forward to this trip so much. I have new friends to meet, who know history. I have new places to find including the French Infantry Barracks from the days of French rule. Also the French Artillery Barracks and the Barracks of the Army Annamite. There is also the posibility of finding a Japanese prison camp from the second world war. Much to see and much to do. I will also be meeting Andreas who is from Germany and we have been writing for some time. This year we will be there at the same time so that will be nice.

I think my index is complete. The home page has links to every page on my site. In each section the pages have links to all pages in that section plus Guest Book and back to Home page. This allows me to add a new section without having to changing every page in every section. I hope you all like it. As always suggestions are always welcome.

I have a Phanfare account and if you go to www.henrybechtold.phanfare.com you can see all the Post Cards I have collected so far. Some are duplicates and a few may be unlabeled or miss labeled. I also have every photo I took on my trip of 2008 since I am now 100% digital it is relatively easy to upload everything.

Please write if you wish. I love these contacts I make here.









My name is Henry Bechtold and I live now, as I have for most of my life, in Beautiful Bucks County, in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Just north of Philadelphia, along the Deleware River. I was in Vietnam from September of 1967 till September of 1968. Stationed at Long Binh, RSVN. Most of my time was with the 572nd trans company but I spent some time with the 10th trans, 534th trans and the 543rd trans which was at the OK Coral in Thu Duc. I returned to Vietnam in 1969, 2001, 2003, and most recently, in February and March of 2006. This site is about my trip in 2006. There are also some pages, in the links to the left, which will take you through my 2001 and 2003 trips and there you will find some photos and stories about my time in 1967 - 68.

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. Copyright ©2001 ©2003 ©2006 ©2008 ©2009 by Henry M Bechtold. All Rights Reserved

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Resume - 2002/Present

Resume - 1975/2002

CELTA Certificate

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