On the Flight to Hanoi
Trip Start Unknown
149Trip End Ongoing
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Last night, we went to a fancy dinner at a restaurant near the Petro Tower. It had a gorgeous courtyard view accented by dramatic lighting, tropical foliage and a fountain. Prices were ok – 52,000 d for pork and noodles, 65,000 d for a delicious smoothie made with mango, kiwi and yogurt.
After dinner, we went to a bar and club called Lush. There, we ran into a friend of Lan-Tu’s, who joined our group as we danced for an hour. It was a pretty similar club experience to what I’ve experienced in the U.S. – they blasted songs that are popular in the U.S.
As I partied it up to the sounds of Lady Ga Ga’s "Poker Face," all I could think was, “Wow, I bet 40 years ago my Dad (a Vietnam vet) would’ve never thought this was possible.” It was surreal to realize that such a short time ago, the country was falling apart and my father was risking his life every day for what he believed was a good cause.
My dad doesn’t talk much about the war. I remember pumping him for details as a child, trying to reconcile my mental image of a soldier with the kind, gentle man I knew as my dad, beloved by babies and trusted by animals, as well as other universally trusted judges of character. To this day, he’s only volunteered variations of three details describing the time he spent there: 1) He rode on the backs of giant sea turtles with his buddies in Cam Ranh Bay, where you could see both the sun set and the sun rise from either side of the bay. 2) The locals were nice people who frequently took him home for delicious meals. 3) Once, he almost died on patrol when he walked into a bar and found a Viet Cong soldier drinking at the bar with his hand poised on his gun. My dad’s own hands were at his sides and there was no time to reach for his gun. In the split second of startled silence, he made a decision that saved his life. Smiling broadly, he smiled broadly and waved at the Viet Cong. As his enemy stared back in confusion, my dad sprinted to safety.
How weird is it to think that if my dad had been thinking just a little bit slower that day, I might never have been born? How weird is it to think that my dad, who is without a doubt my best friend and hero, shot guns at people? He believed that he was defending the South Vietnamese against the tyrannical North. In his mind, he was defending the wimpy kid with glasses against the playground bully, only in this story, the playground bully carried an assault rifle.
Nonetheless, when he mentions “the enemy” in his stories, the necessary distance implied by the term makes me uncomfortable. The enemy was someone’s son, father, brother. The enemy was doing exactly what my dad was – fighting for what he believed to be the right side, based on what a government he believed in had told him.