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Sunday, 27 November 2011

Dalat.Military Academies, Convents and Monasteries: Vietnam memories 1965 1975

Post 117

Dalat.Military Academies, Convents and Monasteries: Vietnam

When we needed a break we would go to Dalat. We usually flew by Air Vietnam but sometimes went by road. KC had a cousin there with a house. She seemed to have family everywhere! I think this cousin was happy to receive visitors as although Dalat was a lovely place it could get very lonely. No television, a very dodgy telephone service etc. The house was situated on a lonely road leading out of town. If my memory serves me correctly it was to the North West. It was also the last inhabited house. These were old French villas and largely empty. During the Tet offensive of 1968 the Viet Cong had made it to the centre of town. When we first arrived I was shown the point in a lane just below the house where a VC had been shot dead a few days previously. Somewhere off in the distance there was an isolated Franciscan monastery. I imagine they had come to their own arrangement with the VC as they were completely exposed.

The climate was agreeably cool and the evenings required a pullover. The curfew was from eight o'clock which meant generally one had to get home early. There was continual small arms fire every night, but I think this was mostly from jumpy People's Self Defense Force members.
Dalat was home to the officers military academy and I think there was a police academy there as well. It also had The Couvent des Oiseaux. There were two such schools. The one in Saigon and that at Dalat, which was boarding. KC and at least one of her sisters had gone there. She could remember a tiger loose in the grounds one day. Some of the pupils were catholic but by no means all. They wore white blouses and blue skirts. Not as appealing as an Ao Dai, but then I don't believe Catholics thought young girls should look appealing.

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