The next stop after
Nha Trang was Saigon, former capital city of South Vietnamese Government
during the war. The
ship docked at Phu My Port approximately one and a half hours drive from
Saigon depending on traffic.
Our first stop was
my wife neighborhood in 5th district at the intersection of Nguyen Tri
and Dong Khanh, now
known as Tran Hung Dao B.
Nguyen Tri Phuong street in front of
her unit is now an overhead
freeway bridge. It took us a while to make sure we were at the right
place. The building itself doesn't change a lot. We still recognized it
and found our way to her unit. Due to the expansion of the street, the
sidewalk is now a lot narrower. We walked around the immediate
neighborhood which used to be a popular night market known as La Kai Street
Foods. It was my wife favorite place for her snacks after dinner. We
didn't know if the night street food market is still there since we
didn't stay overnight in Saigon. Hao Hue theater is still
there but is now serving a different purpose.
After visiting my
wife neighborhood, we went to Hoa Binh Market not too far away to see my
house currently occupied by my relatives. When I stood in front of the
house, I was still not so sure if this was it. The ground floor is now
rented to a nail salon. If I didn't see the street number and my relative
there, I wouldn't dare to come in 'cause I thought it was somebody else
house! My relatives rebuilt the house to make it taller to conform with
surrounding neighbors. The house is taller but it lacks natural sun light
the way it used to enjoy. I walked from the ground floor to the top with
mix feeling. The house I lived for 3 years from 1971 to 1974 suddenly
looked so strange to me. The site is the same but the house is very
different. I tried to picture a young teenage boy in that house back in
the 70's but had a hard time seeing it. My relatives walked me around the
neighborhood to buy durian and to try street food. The neighborhood looks
so crowded now with lots of vendors on the streets making it not accessible
by cars. Only motorcycles can go through. It was not that way in the
70's! I really miss my spacious and relatively quiet neighborhood back
I had lunch
appointment with my old Khai Minh (KM) classmates in Saigon.
We spent over two hours in the restaurant reviewing our pasts. Hieu, one
classmate I haven't seen for 43 years but thanks to face book connection,
we still recognized each other when we met. Hieu found our class
from Khai Minh
website and requested Hang Quoc Trung, the web master, to connect us. I
thank Mr. Hang a lot for that favor. It was a long 43 years but our
friendship stays the same. We had lots to catch up in those long years!
Due to miscommunication, we missed one other KM classmate from Australia who was also in Vietnam but was not in Saigon
on that day. I also chatted with other friends on the phone and still had
a good time with them. Friendship are wine are two of many things that
get better with age!
A stop at Saigon was mainly a memory seeking trip. We did it
and we got back to the cruise ship
on time ending our Vietnam
visit. We were heading to Cambodia
for our next port.
Khai Minh, UCLA and Investools
Angeles, 25 May 2019