Our Trip to Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand

By Barbara Kruse

Other than the heat in Thailand, it was a wonderful trip, led by Lutheran minister John Krahn, that 29 of us took to Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. We didn’t come across any Hubbell cousins, but one of our colleagues was John Eichelberger of Ohio who had been in the 2nd battallion, 1st Marines, when he spent 19 months in Vietnam. In Hanoi, once we got in the Embassy (it took time), we met with and were impressed by two of the Marines stationed there. They were indeed a credit to the Corps and to our country.

There was much to see in Hanoi– Ho Chi Mausoleum, the Pillar Pagoda, Temple of Literature, historic old quarter, the pottery village of Bat Trang, the Water Puppet show, and so much more. The traffic with all of the motor bikes weaving in and out and cutting in front of each other was something else. None of the bikes, cars or busses gives an inch at the rotaries– just keep edging in, and lots of horn blowing. Of course, rice paddies are everywhere.

We continued to Halong Bay, Hue and Hoi An, and visited the Cham museum, China Beach and Marble Mountain before going to Saigon. It was very emotional seeing the remnants of the Vietnam War and the Cu Chi tunnels. At Mekong Delta, we took a boat trip along narrow canals, passing rice fields and lush orchards.

In Siem Reap, Cambodia, we saw the incredible temples of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom as well as the “Jewel of the Jungle”– ruins of an 800 year old temple with tremendous 300 year old spund trees growing among the ruins. A boat trip took us to see the fascinating floating village before leaving for Bangkok. There we saw fantastic temples with so much gold, gems and marble– taking off our shoes before entering each one. Before leaving Bangkok, we found time to visit the Embassy and meet two more young Marines and purchase Marine polo shirts.

Then we had to fly to Seoul, South Korea before flying home and two things we learned: we didn’t have to change our watches for there was a 12-hour time difference, and you want to get to the airports early, before the Koreans get there. When a Korean takes a trip, it’s not unusual for as many as 50 friends and relatives to go along to see that person off– and lots of Koreans are flying, and they are all crying. They rub tiger balm on their cheeks, under the eyes, to make it easier to cry. Oh yes, the Korean Airlines serve excellent food, putting the American airlines to shame.

It was a wonderful trip but it’s so good to be back home.

Barbara Currier Kruse is a Contributing Member of THFHS.

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