Motorized vehicles are prohibited from entering the ancient trading town
of Hoi An. This is a welcome respite from the omnipresent beeping of horns
and the roar of non-muffled engines. Tourism has revived the economy of
this tiny village which only a few short years ago was mostly forgotten.
The narrow crumbling streets and masterfully decorated homes of former
Chinese traders make it a photographers paradise. Upon arrival, one of the
friendly locals who helped me find a hotel (to get a commission) looked
strangely American. When I asked her about her features, she informed me
that her father was a GI who left shortly after her mother became
pregnant. She has been searching for her dad her entire life. If she finds
him (attention Arthur T. Fine stationed at Da Nang in 1972) she can bring
her family to America on a special immigration program. Later, she
introduced me to her husband and kids and showed me her fatherís dogtags
and a photo.
The imperial city of Hue was once the cultural capital
Today, however, it is pretty run down. Hue is significant because it
was the only city in the South to be captured and held by the Viet Cong.
For nearly a month after the Tet Offensive, the North Vietnamese flag
flew over the walled city as the South Vietnamese army tried in vain to
dislodge the VC. During this time the VC effectively rounded up thousands
of people they considered to be enemies of the state and executed them.
During our tours we came to a bullet pocked wall where it was very likely
that this dastardly act happened. As we pondered the significance of the
site, a young boy approached and informed us that it was the Americans who
had actually executed the citizens here. We told him we were Canadian and
asked him for more information. Yes, he continued, "Americans attacked our
country and tried to steal everything, they executed innocent people until
we fought them off, this is what my grandfather has told me." We were
completely taken off guard by this convoluted version of history, however,
shocked and confused we didn't know what to say.
We ended up riding bikes with
the little tyke for the rest of the day
helping him to learn English.
There is a serious rodent control problem going on in Hoi An.
One night I was woken by rats chewing on our tin roof hotel.
That is not a good thing.