Day 25 Memories of the Vietnam War on the drive to Nha Trang

Advertising poster for our rally in Vietnamese

For people my age, who were either in the Vietnamese War, or watched it play out every night on the Evening News, today brought sights and names that caused those memories to flood back.

During the morning drive, we climbed a winding road up a very big mountain. On top of this mountain was a plateau of considerable size. As we reached the plateau, our two-lane asphalt road turned into a six-lane concrete road for a distance of over three miles and thereafter returning to a two-lane asphalt road going down the other side of the mountain. It didn't take a big imagination to understand that this area was a former landing strip where American C-132's (I think that's the designation) brought in an endless amount of supplies and war material and took off with wounded or dead American soldiers. There were no buildings or signs to indicate what had been here, but the surrounding forest has not grown back sufficiently to hide the true character of the area.

At other times, road signs pointed the way to Pleiku ( a major American installation during the war) or Cam Ron (where the Americans maintained a big air base). I even learned that Qui Nhon, where we stayed several nights ago, was where the 8th Cavalry deployed to at the beginning of the engagement.

It is difficult to forget that 58,000 Americans died here and another 200,000 were seriously injured here during my lifetime.

The Vietnamese have done a good job to erase the ugly remains of war. In fact, many of the big American installations have become resort areas with hotels, condos, pools and golf courses.

We ended Day 25 in the town of Nha Trang, a beautiful seaside resort on the South China Sea. Its road along the seashore runs for about 15 miles. It is wall to wall hotel (cheap to the most exclusive), condos, outdoor restaurants.....think Waikiki, Miami Beach, the Costa Esmeralda in Spain. We stayed the night at the Intercontinental, an A+ establishment.

We had to stop in the road to allow the Water Buffaloes cross

So who comes here? There are many Europeans; only a few Americans; a growing Russian contingent, but mostly that Chinese middle class we talked about at the beginning of the Rally. They come as youngsters backpacking, they come in groups of economy tourism and they come as individuals/families in the high-end hotels and the high-end restaurants. Seafood is the specialty of this seaside resort town and those menus are usually printed in Vietnamese, English, Chinese and Russian......the world is changing faster than you might imagine.....sitting in America.

The Car and the Rally:

Oh yes, there was one Regularity Stage and we missed the perfect time by 3 seconds. This was good enough for us to hang onto 7th place.