Photography by Dennis Phan





Cinema  A Bridge Too Far

 ( Stars: Sean Connery, Ryan O'Neal, Michael Caine )




We visited my wife home town Da Nang and it was my turn to visit my home town Nha Trang. The ship docked at Stone Bridge Port ( Cang Cau Da ) after leaving Da Nang and one sea day. I was pretty excited to see Nha Trang again after my last visit there in 1994. I was the first group to exit the ship, step on tender boat for the port. When I got there, I immediately noticed the changes. Back in 1994 when I first went home, the port was a remote place with a lone "108 Brother" Hai Nam Temple and several souvenir shops selling lobster and crab shells to tourists. Now it is a town with crowded housings, shops, restaurants and busy streets. Our friend, Mr. Vincent Vuong, was there to pick us up.


We first stopped at Dam Market for fish soup noodle, Vietnamese baguette and banh can. After street food breakfast, I stopped by my houses and requested the occupants to allow me to get inside. They gladly obligated. The two houses my parents built in 1970 are now converted to apartments with multiple units. The stairs now serve as public stairs to get access to the units. A lot of changes noticed inside but I still recognized the spots I used to sleep, play and study as a kid in that lovely house. It hurts to see what used to be a beautiful, spacious private residence now becomes a cramped "apartment". I took several pictures and left. While I was at Dam Market, I met two of my Khai Minh classmates. It was a short meeting but we treasured every minute of it.


After Dam Market, we walked along Phan Boi Chau Street where I walked daily on my way to school in the 60's and 70's. There are changes but I still recognized several houses and landmarks there such as Bac Ai Circle and Ba Thai Well. Vincent also drove us around town and visited our old school. I had a chance to talk with the principal and see pre 1975 Khai Minh campus. It's basically the same campus minus the basketball court. They now use it as school playground. Vincent also brought us to post 1975 Khai Minh school. The new Khai Minh school is a newly built 4-story building serving Nha Trang residents for their Chinese study after work. I salute our Khai Minh alumni worldwide for their hard work to build this school and to keep the name Khai Minh alive!


We had lunch at Lang Xua Restaurant in Nha Trang suburban. This restaurant has beautiful lotus pond setting. I had a chance to meet my distanced nephew for the very first time here. This is not a tourist place so the price was pretty reasonable for 4-people lunch. It is always good to have local leading the way!


After lunch, Vincent showed us his company and huge factory at Suoi Dau Industrial Zone per my request. He walked us around and explained how his business operates. His business had up and down moments but now, everything seems to be in order thanks to his leadership and an efficient system. To me, the keys to his business success are his kindness to employees and his ability to pick the right man for the right position. When the owner treats his employees nice, he gets their loyalty. When the owner chooses the right man for the right position, he gets the job done efficiently. I met Vincent several times when he came to Los Angeles. This trip was the first time I spent significant time with him which gave me a chance to know him better. With what he has achieved, he can easily brag, show off and act like a big shot. He doesn't. In fact, he is one of the most humble CEOs and businessmen I have the pleasure to be friend with. I am glad our Khai Minh community has such an outstanding man. Not surprisingly, Vincent is one of Khai Minh alumni participating in building post 1975 Khai Minh school.


I had only less than a day in Nha Trang so I couldn't see the city the way I wanted to. I didn't have time to walk on the beach and see the spot I used to gather with my childhood friends for morning swim; I didn't have a chance to submerge myself in sea water of Nha Trang beach to find the feeling I had lost; I hadn't walked along Doc Lap Street in the heart of Nha Trang downtown to re-live my memories there as a kid; I still had yet to try many, many local street foods I wanted to. However, I saw Nha Trang transforms itself from a peaceful, small coastal town to a busy tourist city. The old Nha Trang is now gone. I miss my old Nha Trang dearly but I have to accept the fact and move on.






Dennis Phan   潘家墉

Khai Minh, UCLA and Investools Alumni

Los Angeles, 25 May 2019
















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