A Few Excerpts From The Book "Emerging From The Shadows"

I was looking out the window into the blackness and saw absolutely nothing then felt a heavy bang and we were cruising down the dark runway; oh well, 45 years ago people from my generation were arriving in Hanoi in the same blacked out conditions but with parachutes on their backs as they jumped from planes flying high overhead

In the lobby I was standing with my arms above my head, taking a photo of the huge chandelier thus exposing and highlighting my ample midriff when the bellhop walked up to me, rubbed my stomach, smiled and said, “Happy Buddha.” This type of comment and gesture was to become thematic as our time in Vietnam progressed and I began wondering how did this happen? What became of that Greek god that used to be there? I guess I ate him.

The cave itself contained two sections, the first a smaller stalactite dripping theatre and the second an immense chamber lit from the exit above, that chamber being capable of holding more than 1,000 people…I could only imagine the large numbers of people and amounts of ammunition now known to have been concealed there during the war.

Ha announced that we were going to take a short walk in the park but some of it was a bit steep, words that although intriguing turned out to be ominously inaccurate. As we walked along a kilometre long flat footpath Ha pointed up to an observation tower on top of the mountain and said, “We are going there.” Excuse me, that’s on top of the mountain, that’s not a short walk, but it’s damn sure steep.



I had maybe a glass and a half left in a bottle of wine I had bought so Karen and I shared it in a midnight toast to this, our latest adventure…We had a couple of cans of Coke with us that were nice and shaken up by then so we enjoyed a Coke shower just before we went to bed.



“Where you from?” “Canada.”
“What your name?” “Eric. And what’s your name?” “Mai.”
Before I could ask her how she was doing another woman was on my heels. “What your name?”
“Eric. And what’s your name?” “Mai.”
Then another immediately. “What your name?”
“Murray, and your name’s Mai, right?” She didn’t get it.

“We go airport now!” As we neared the terminal the police waved our vehicle over to the side of the road. As was explained to us after the fact, the officer claimed our driver was weaving in and out of traffic which could not have been further from the truth. The cop was about to demand “dirty money” when he saw Karen and me as passengers and apparently thought better of his efforts. Our ambassador-like role best not be dragged into viewing this common practice. Our driver then took off and pretty much raced to the terminal weaving in and out of traffic all the way; I guess he thought he was safe now as he laughed and spoke to us for the first time, “I live here but I don’t know why.”

As we headed out onto the river the shacks on high stilts at the river’s edge and the boats, many painted with haunting eyes, gradually got me to change my mind. I had originally thought that Halong Bay was my idea of what Vietnam would look like but as the boat putted along sounding eerily like a helicopter following us I decided the Mekong Delta had a more familiar feel. Be that as it may, the music of the late sixties resonated in my mind as we chugged slowly down the river.

About 52 kilometres from Can Tho near the town of Thot Not (bet you can’t jump over that car – can tho – crash – thot not) is the Bang Lang Stork Garden, a stork sanctuary, home to thousands of swooping, squawking birds. They are delicate, gorgeous creatures up close and fascinating to see their rituals complete with loud audibles and frantic gestures. That was pretty much the only wildlife we saw in Vietnam making it even more special, giving us the feeling that we were in their world not they in ours.

Founded as a Buddhist monastery and university in the 12th century by King Jayavarman VII, Ta Prohm has been left in its natural state of ruin. Surrounded by jungle, it remains a labyrinth of stone hallways that have become overgrown with the roots and limbs of massive banyan trees which envelope the stones like tentacles.

This temple site is nothing short of bizarre. It was almost science fiction as we gazed upon spots where the trees and roots had taken over like an alien invasion devouring the building beneath with its giant roots.


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