My Lai via Qui Nhon

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Qui Nhon  Long Khanh Pagoda

Our obligatory Vietnamese guide told us there was nothing to do in Qui Non in the evening.   We had read about Long Khanh so we ignored his advice and discovered the pagoda monks providing evening classes, ball games and Karate lessons.   It was wonderful

Thich Ca - Neon Buddha

Who knew English class could be so much fun?  According to the blackboard they were studying 'Everyday Conversation'.  We knew how that went.  "Hello, how are you,  what your name,  how old are you,  where you from?  Wherever you are from their response is to repeat the name of your country and add #1, accompanied by thumbs up

The images are crummy but the experience was priceless Propaganda poster art, wish I knew what it means
Enroute: My Lai - Son My
Driving through iconic rice fields, we stopped at the sight of farmers and children running to the side of the road shouting "welcome to Vietnam"  who could resist stopping and blowing bubble and balloons for the children?    Even the animals seemed  happy to see us.   Had they heard yet of the Feb 3rd lifting of the American embargo?  Full diplomatic relations would follow in July 1995

 

 

 

Half a mile down the road we passed through the gate to Son My (My Lai), and were very much aware of that other March day almost 30 years ago.  The fore fathers of the friendly people we had just met were greeted, not with bubbles and balloons but bullets
'Good Manure = Good Rice'

 
Tinh Kha Ward

The place where American Imperialists caused a massacre Son My - 16th of March 1968 

Boy, beast and balloon

Son My Memorial

Stands in a park on the site of Xom Long Hamlet, scene of some of the worst atrocities of what is known as The Mai Lai Massacre.   I assume the wreath is in honour of the 29th anniversary, four days prior to our visit
A memorial stone marks the ditch where 170 villagers died that morning.   In the fields and woods around are the graves of the victims buried in family groups.  Before the day was over 504 older men, women, children and babies in Xom Long and surrounding hamlets lay dead

 

 

 

A docent tells the story of the hamlet.  Under the glass on the table are business cards left by visitors, many of whom are returning veterans.   There is also a very moving visitor book to read and sign

I can think of no better way to understand the wartime experiences of 'ordinary' Vietnamese than to read  Lady Borton's  "After Sorrow, An American Among the Vietnamese"

Update 2018:  Now out of print, copies can still be found on Amazon  

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