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Tuesday, 30 January 2018

A long and difficult journey: Memories of Vietnam 1965 1975


A long and difficult journey

I spent the night in the Hilton, Washington. I have always believed that when in doubt first class hotels are always the best. Small family hotels are lovely when you have time to get to know the people. A curious thing happened whilst checking in though. When I had registered they asked me what credit card I would be using. I said I would be paying cash and immediately they asked for my passport as though cash was a dubious way to pay and made one a suspicious character.

I went to the office the following morning and by evening that day was on a plane on my way back to Vietnam. Not for me this time a month's wait for a flight.

Saigon via London. By some logic that escaped me I had to pass by the US Embassy in London to pick up my travel orders and various other documents. I wasn't even a resident of the UK any more. In London just before I was to get my flight the Viet Cong made massive attacks all over Vietnam in what was to become known as the Tet Offensive as it was during the New Year celebrations. All flights to Saigon were cancelled. I was still in my very gung ho period. Another Englishman who was meant to travel out to Saigon was held back by the London office and took six weeks to arrive. I was brought up in a different school.

I decided I had better have some more cash so went to the London office of my American bank and asked to withdraw some dollars. They said I wasn't allowed any dollars and it was against the law to have a foreign account anyway. I had to produce my United States Defense Department identity papers and explain my position before I could withdraw any money. Governments and I have never got on. I haven't got on with banks and head offices either.

I decided to take a flight to Paris.

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