Sunday, April 23, 2006

Hoi An 'Airstrip' Family

Hoi An, Vietnam, March 24 2006

I've now done a full tour of the 14th Century City of Hoi An and a tour of 'My Son'. I've been traveling since 10am this morning and now we're heading to my driver's home town.
Bonsoon takes me through some beautiful countryside. It's amazing what you can do with a simple camera on the back of a motor bike.
I see many women out in the rice paddies, and lots of water buffalo. I also keep seeing these plastic bags on sticks. I think they are used like scare-crows, to keep birds away but I'm not sure.
Finally we came to this wide deteriorating tar mack surface. Bonsoon explained that this was a U.S. Military Air strip that was used during the 'American War' by the B-52 bombers, to conduct their bombing raids on North Vietnam. Now it's just a big deserted road used by the local villagers.
Bonsoon took me to meet his family. Bonsoon is on the right. Next to him is his little sister, then his father, his mother, his aunt and his brother. My driver helps to support his family with money he makes in Hoi An. He is a qualified Civil Engineer but is out of work right now. That's why he is driving me around. The family offered me dinner and some beer to drink.
When we were finished eating, I walked outside to find many of the villagers standing around to get a glimpse of their foreign guest. The children were especially excited to meet me and made a point of playing and running around in front of me so they could have their pictures taken.
These are the neighbors up the street. Bonsoon wanted them to meet his new Canadian friend. bonsoon's dad and I had a great talk about the War. He was an aircraft mechanic for the American army. He told me it was an amazing time in his life. He enjoyed working on the huge bombers but he said the village was constantly afraid of being targeted by North Vietnam aircraft. He said the village was actually bombed many times but his family was never harmed. He said the village became almost a ghost town after the war but that it has recovered quite a bit in recent years. As I drove through the village on my way back to Hoi Ann, everyone kept waving and smiling as if I was a celebrity. Here, as in so many places in Vietnam, I feel so welcome. Finally my very long day is drawing to a close. My butt is sore after nine of intensive touring. So here we are, speeding out of town, waving good bye to the wonderful people of his village when he turns to me and says: "So how about some Karaoke..."

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