I went with my older brother Don, his wife and their daughter Abbie. I think we left on about
the 12th of Nov 2018 and returned about the 25th. We departed from Dulles (IAD) primarily
because Cathay Pacific, which is a tremendous airline flew non-stop to Hong Kong. They fly over
the top of the North Pole, Russia, Mongolia and then drop into Hong Kong. I flew Economy and
thought I might regret it. 14 hours seemed like nothing and in economy there was plenty of
legroom arm space (almost like being in first class) and interactive system with 50 current
movies, games, audio and freed beer and wine and good food. Two legs to and from Dulles to
Hong Kong and also a leg on smaller plane to Saigon, a leg from Saigon to Danang a leg from
Danang to HANOI and a leg from Hanoi to Hong Kong and the total cost was about $850 to $900.
We were gone almost 12 days as I recall, but remember several of those days you could argue
were trail with the long legs. They also fly the same route from Toronto.
We started out in Saigon and stayed in the intercontinental Hotel which I would rate as 5
stars. The Canadian Embassy staff was having dinner there one night. We also ate at the
Caravelle Hotel located right next to the Opera House and also 5 star. Another dinner at the
Majestic Hotel which was also 5 stars. 5 star prices are modest compared to anywhere else in
world. Saw the old Catholic Church (1880), the wonderful Post Office, with a MacDonald's right
next to it, Presidential Palace and the old Embassy and CIA headquarters. A drink on roof top
garden bar overlooking the Saigon River. Saigon is huge about 13M. No clutter, not hustle of
Americans and very polite, gentle wonderful people.
Trip out to Cu Chi Tunnels about 2 hours drive. Amazing perseverance and no wonder they
were not easy beaten. Totally different mindset to have three levels of tunnels with
manufacturing and hospitals included below ground.
Flight to Danang and then on to MarbleMountain and then to Marble/Hoi An Beach for a stay
at the Four Seasons. So over the top nice, just amazing. Dinner in very cool place called Hoi An,
an old town about 20 miles south of Marble. 500 years old and untouched in war. Back to 4
Seasons for night and breakfast then picked up by our DMZ tour guide. Spent morning turning
Hoi An and seeing all the cool buildings and how silk is manufactured and then off to China
Beach, Monkey Mountain and then to HaiVan Pass. Stopped for lunch at amazing restaurant on
N. side of HaiVan where I had the best seafood meal ever for $5. Next stop was Phu Bai airport
and photo from as close as I could get. Our side is abandoned and photos are from bunker right
on RT1 at north end of runway.
Then off to Hue where we saw the emperors tomb (500 years old and 13 dynasties - ending in
1974 with abdication), then to a 4 star hotel on the Perfume River. I believe it was the old French
Embassy. Amazing dinner and then in the morning we toured the forbidden city in Hue where
battle of Hue Set occurred. Much reconstruction paid for by World Bank and UNESCO. Then up
RT 1 past Camp Eagle and LZ Sharon, past Quang Tri and on to Dong Ha where we had a nice
local lunch. Only thing left in Dong Ha is one old concrete hangar.Runway has been converted to
Main Street. Decent Hotel and dinner for negligible $$. Off in morning to tunnels and cave North
of the DMZ across the Bien Ha River and near A1. Back and then climbed through a now rubber
plantation to Con Then bunker atop the hill. Then out Rt 9 and stopped a location Castro met N.
Vietnamese after the fall of Vietnam and then on to Camp Carroll and Rockville, Razorback,
could see LZ Fuller and in the distance LZ Russell north of the Rockville. Nothing really left of
Vandy except Montegnards have relocated there. Small huts and villas along Rt. I walked out to
what was probably the LSA or runway but it is totally unrecognizable. Then on a beautiful drive
past Ca LU out Khe Sahn (a town) and then up to the old airstrip and combat base. Then on to
Lang Vei (Special Forces camp) on the border. Back to The San for dinner and hotel which was
decent for modest $$ like $20 per room. Hot and cold water, good bed and good mattresses. We
had lunch dinner and breakfast there. Chilean wine and Heinikens beer.
Next morning we went to Hill 881 North with special permits. Very beautiful and peaceful. Then
back to CaLU along Rt 9 and He River and then south on newly constructed Ho Chi Mihn Road
past all the Dewey Canyon Zones, Henderson, Tun Tavern, Dallas, Razor, Shiloh, Erskine and
Cunningham. With special permits we want out onto to AuShau runway which is grassed in and
still very dangerous. A tour of the new regional HQ for the district and then to our hotel. We had
lunch and dinner in AuLuoi (town in middle of AuShau). Decent hotel for almost nothing. Off in
the morning to find and climb Hamburger Hill, Operation Apache Snow and right on the border.
Up mountain trails to 3000 feet and I thought about quitting. Totally grown in now and very
dangerous. Had a Montegnard guide. Back to Hue and late lunch near Hai Van where I had fresh
shrimp and calamari for $4. A little tour of Danang and the old French quarter and the new
Dragon bridge and then to airport for a plane to Hanoi.
In late at Hanoi and then to Apricot Hotel. 5 Star and right downtown. Better than the Plaza in
NYC for $110 per night. Nice dinner there and then picked up n the morning for trip to HaLong
Bay near Haiphong. Amazing place with 2000 islands coming out of the sea and a real tourist
destination. We toured a pearl farm with is a huge industry there, a la Mikomoto financed by
Japanese and high quality stuff. Then on to Paradise Hotel and to our "junk" for tour, dinner and
all sorts of activities. Junk does not adequately describe. First class stateroom and first class
meals. What an experience. Toured limestone cave in some of the mountains big enough to put
Yankee Stadium inside. Toured pearl farming operation and retail facilities.
Then back to Hanoi and tour of the city, Ho Chi Min mausoleum and communist HQ and lake
(right downtown) where McCain went down. Tour of Hanoi Hilton (old French prison right
downtown). Million people in Hanoi and very clean. People great and no inkling of war animosity.
They are geared for capitalistic spirit and entrepreneur efforts. No fat people and the whole trip
has caused me to alter my diet. Have since lost 15 pounds by eating more sensibly. Great
dinner back. Apricot and off to the hotel in morning for flight to Hong Kong and return to states.
Great trip! I learned a many new things along the way and plan to go back. My wife Shirley is
pretty fired up about going now that I have done it.
|Dave Taylor's Return to Vietnam
|Above: Views from Rockpile and Razorback and Hill 881N (just North of Khe Sahn) looking
back toward NE. Vandy and LZ Russell probably behind the Ridgeline.
|Dave's Detailed Narrative of Vietnam Trip