We are “home”!!

We made it back to a 60 degree LA – waited through Immigration which made us both have compassion for the people trying to enter this country that do not have US passports- brought our trinkets through Customs without a question, took an Uber home (a 45 minute ride from LAX in normal traffic) and finally poured a glass of wine to toast what has been a trip of some lifetimes.  We arrived into LA 3.5 hours before we left in Hong Kong so we are all discombobulated.  Daddy even celebrated his journey by eating octopus as his latest dinner on the plane. No thank you for me. Thank you for all of your love and support – I will share with you all now that Daddy hasn’t read these posts in full yet- only the comments – because he is waiting to get home and relive the entire experience- post by post. I can’t tell you how much we have appreciated your support and love and can’t wait to reconnect with all of you.

❤️❤️❤️🇻🇳🙏🏼✈️🇭🇰🇺🇸 Jarry

 

See you again, Viet Nam 🇻🇳

We are in the lounge at Ho Chi Minh City International Airport awaiting our flight to Hong Kong.

Its been quite the experience for us and probably the guides we met. I forgot to mention that while on our tour in Da Nang, our guide Tommy, sang to us in Vietnamese and asked if I would sing for he and the driver. So he pulls up the Bluetooth and guess what song comes on.. Hotel California by the Eagles. No joke- and I sang that song while driving over rice paddies in Central Vietnam. CLASSIC.

Daddy chimed in for the chorus, too. I had no idea I knew every word to that song. And having just STAYED in our own Hotel California in the mountains- it was even more bizarre and perfect.

Most signs say “Good Luck and See you Again” as you leave a city here.  I like that.  I also really like the kindness of this place- reflected in this arrow on the airport ground (photo below)- it says :” 3rd floor- waiting and well wishers gallery” 🤗✈️

If you don’t know who Ho Chi Minh was, I encourage you to look into his history and how he lived his life. Extraordinarily humble and never ending drive for change – wonderful qualities. The people here call him “Uncle Ho”.

We will update if possible from Hong Kong – we have a short connection time and, as most of you know, flying back into US airspace there are a few levels of checkpoints to go through.

Have a wonderful Monday! Much love- Jarry  ❤️🇻🇳✈️🇭🇰🙋🏽

PS- expect a Vietnam quiz on this blog and the one with all the correct answers wins a million VND!! Here is a photo of only $120,000- about $6USD.

 

Back in smiling Ho Chi Minh City

This morning we woke to a brilliant day with the sun shining on the weird French mountains where we decided to stay. I use “weird” because once there, you’re a bit trapped. The cable car is amazing but stops after 9pm and doesn’t begin again until 9am. And it’s just weird up there.  It’s a new resort built by Chinese investors a few years ago and trust us- no expense spared in this invented town-But there are more rules and regulations for this place than the prohibited items lists I have created for certain festivals 😆 Anyhooooo… we woke to a beautiful day and strolled around waiting to head out/get out… I started calling it Hotel California … you can check out but you can never leave kinda thing… behind the French village are these Chinese temples, meditation mounts and a pagoda… Here are some photos :

Once we were back down the Hotel California mountain, we went for a early lunch in Da Nang city and this little beach cafe was perfectly situated on China Beach. During the Vietnam/American war (here it’s referred to as the American war), China beach in Danang served as an R&R location and was also a US Air Force military base.  We passed a museum on the way and the taxi driver says “here is a war museum… boom boom boom”. Exactly.

We toasted China Beach with local Tiger beer on our way to the airport to return to Ho Chi Mihn City today.

We are safely back in HCMCity and ventured out for some Thai food and a final night’s toast on top of the Hotel Magestic that has been operating since 1925 here and is magical-the staff fantastic.

I told Daddy that I hoped his memory of this country had softened for him and maybe given a little more space in his mind. We can sometimes get very rigid with our own pain- leaving no room to breathe and soften a little- like concrete it just stays in place while everything else is changing all around it.

It’s extremely clear that the guilt, sadness, confusion- all of that or a mixture of that- is not applied by the people of Vietnam to a soldier like my Dad. A world of greed is to blame for this war, I believe.

And now a huge thank you to everyone who has ever served.

I will leave it at that and say that Marvin Gaye had it right in “Inner City Blues” in 1972 when he sang :
…”Inflation no chance
To increase finance
Bills pile up sky high
Send that boy off to die
Make me wanna holler
The way they do my life
Hang ups, let downs
Bad breaks, set backs
Natural fact is I can’t pay my taxes…”

We fly back to Los Angeles tomorrow (Monday) to start reflecting on our time here.  It’s been an incredibly beautiful journey for me and I’m so honored and grateful to be able to do this with him and all of the sweet support is incredible.

Jarry ❤️🇻🇳🙏🏼

 

Danang, Hoi An, My Son & Marble Mountain!

Hellllllooooo everyone! We have had a very VERY full day. I had booked a day tour with a wonderful woman here in Danang who owns her own tour company – she has been extremely helpful in connecting me to other people throughout Vietnam.  Being a fellow-female business owner, I wanted to support her and she didn’t disappoint.  I got word from her last night, though, that her Grandmother had died and she was unable to meet us but that she would send a kind replacement guide named Hai (American name he chose is Tommy). He and the driver took us ALL OVER THIS REGION for a nine hour tour day. We saw Danang city, went to Marble Mountain where marble is mined and there are lots of Buddha statues carved into the mountain, we saw a UNESCO protected site of the Cham people built in 700 in a place called My Son… Amazing architecture and still the mystery of the bricks, how they are made, joined together and are still standing. Sadly- the US Air Force dropped some bombs and destroyed part of it during the war. You may remember the Cham information from our tour of Nha Trang – we were invited to a performance today from the living Cham people that was breathtaking and ancient.  We visited Hoi An- a town full of history due to its placement on the South China Sea-  Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Mylasian immigrants and trading through the centuries has brought an awesome mixture of culture, architecture and people. The entire town of Hoi An is a protected UNESCO site and is safe from over growth of ugly hotels and new buildings. The sweetest part of the day for me, though, was getting this email from Xuân Tú- (the owner of the tour company whose Grandmother had died last night so she sent a replacement guide):

Hello Julie! I just wanted to say thank you once again for everything. You are so amazing! My teammate Hai just called me about the tour and he was so blessed to have met you and your father. As a young Vietnamese person, I really appreciated your kindness for our people. I was very moved to know that you brought the shirt all the way to Vietnam and gave us lovely shirts. THANK YOU SO MUCH!

I was not born in the war time but my parents grew up in the war. My parents told me so many stories about how we suffered during our war but my parents also mentioned that they had met many kind American and Australian solders during the war. They taught me that there will always be good and bad people everywhere. And it is so true. What I am trying to say here is you are representative of the beautiful souls from a very far away country- America. I have met many wonderful people from America, Australia, New Zealand and everywhere around the world. I learned that Kindness is the key of connection. And I know I have not met you but I believe you are BEAUTIFUL!

And please understand that we do not have any hatred for American just because of the war. It is over! We learn our history and we move on for more important things in our life. I hope that you find our country vietnam beautiful and friendly 🇻🇳 One thing I need to write down is if you find yourselves come back to Vietnam, please let me know! My mother and I would like to have you and your father for dinner or lunch at our house

I hope my email does not confuse you.

Take care and Kindest regards,

XuanTu

In my humble opinion- this is why we are here.  Seeing the sites are very special and we have learned a lot but realizing our similarities, rather than our differences, is the point – and celebrating that. Right?!!

Here’s some great photos of today below. We love you and miss you all- we fly back to Ho Chi Minh City tomorrow and prepare for our flight back to LA on March 6. ❤️❤️🇻🇳😀😀🙋🏽✈️

  

Are we in Da Nang?? Or a very clean French city ?

Hellllo Jarriats ! Sorry- I’m on a roll and we are in a different universe right now. We rode the mountainous 6 hours from Pleiku to Danang –  and I mean there were mountain grades at 10% over these passes – waterfalls and small villages and towns sprinkled along the way …

This last one is a typical Buddhist graveyard along the way and throughout this route.  I dislike taking photos of graveyards in general out of respect but I wanted to share what these looked like.

We arrived into Danang – a beautiful beach community- but I had found this French mountain town and HAD to check it out.  Daddy and I arrived with about 1000000000 Chinese tourists and made our way onto this aerial tram (longest in the world) toward our hotel.  It’s a 24 minute smooth ride !!

So it’s a little cool up here upon arrival – probably 67F – not sure of the altitude but a 24 minute ride up to the top would indicate maybe a few thousand feet. And we are now in a French village…

Ummmmm…..now you see my bewilderment… HA!! We had some pasta and wine and are now in our French hotel and we are totally confused and happy. I went to the hotel bar to grab a nightcap for us and there was one sad karaoke singer attempting a Linda Rondstat song …and one bartender. I ordered two whiskeys …brought to our room please and now we are watching a National Geographic show about Putin and enjoying a VietFrench whiskey and wondering how we managed to deserve all of this.

Tomorrow we see Danang and will definitely have updates. We love you all in French, Vietnamese and English. Oh and I practiced some Italian on my way here. So… in all languages, thank you for the support.  Jarry!! ❤️❤️🇻🇳🇻🇳

Sayonara, Pleiku 🇻🇳

This morning we say Sayonara to Pleiku and make our way North to Danang.  A 6 hour ride through the countryside will be relaxing – passing water buffalo along the way and mountainsides ( hopefully most have grown back that were killed by Agent Orange – You’ll find I have no love for Monsanto and frankly think they are pure evil). It’s 6am here on Friday here so too early for that conversation 😴

Here’s a handy map so you can see our route from Saigon to Nha Trang to Pleiku to Danang 🚗🚤✈️🚊:

We will update when we arrive into Danang. We are staying in a hotel that is a French village stuck in the mountains like a dream-place. When you see these photos you may think I’m fibbing on our lodgings. 😀 Danang is a beautiful beach city with a French Village in the mountains and the only way to get there is the worlds longest cable car ride!! We love y’all – Jarry 🚗🎉❤️

Pleiku sun setting last night :

 

Pleiku and Kon Tum and rice wine with the Jarai!

Today was a Central Highlands gem of a day.

It started a little rocky when our tour guide didn’t show up. (Very unlike the guides we have had so far).  So…in typical Virgo fashion- AND THE FACT THAT THIS WAS THE TOUR REFLECTING THE REASON WE FLEW ACROSS THE DANG PACIFIC- I started a slight panic attack. I called and the tour had thought I didn’t confirm but I had confirmed- you know the drill with these situations- and Daddy is thinking its bad karma for him fighting over here – good gracious – but the guide arranged to fix it and we had someone at our hotel in about 30 minutes.  It was all friendly but I had tears in my eyes, no doubt. And I didn’t want to add to Daddy’s stress of today if he was stressing – Good Lord it was quick but tense for a minute. Once our new guide arrived we were on our way.

We started in Pleiku at “Camp Holloway” location- veterans who served here will know this name immediately. It looked like this in the late 1960s And some images of Pleiku from 1968…        

The reason Daddy is so disorientated here is because this is an image of Pleiku today:

Camp Holloway is now a military office that is smack in the middle of a bustling city with zero resemblance to the US military base in the late 1960’s. It’s not recommended to take photos of military buildings while visiting so you’ll see no photos but trust us- no resemblance at all.

We drove out to the volcanic crater lake that was near the “25th hill”- Daddy’s 25th infantry base.  It’s now filled with well water and supplies the drinking water for Pleiku.  Again- unrecognizable. “25th hill” is now an off-limits Vietnam Military Base so we couldn’t get near but it’s still acting as a proper base so that is something.

Our guide is Jurai – part of an indigenous group here in Vietnam.

The Jarai live primarily in the Gia Lai and Kon Tum Provinces, with some others in Đắk Lắk Province and a few thousand in Ratanakiri Province, Cambodia. Following the Vietnam War, many Jarai who had been allied with the United States were resettled with their families in the United States, particularly in the state of North Carolina. What a small world is this?? North Carolina?!! Well, Daddy’s current home state seems to be even more diverse than I even realized.

We walked through the Jarai village with our guide Kyrll and were able to meet some villagers preparing for a death ceremony. They invited us to drink a special rice wine they make and sit with them for a moment. These men were fantastic- smiling and taking a little break from preparing for the ceremony that will take place in one month from now.

This is a typical community house for the Jarai- check out that roof!

When invited to partake in the rice wine and some cooked chicken- it would be considered extremely rude to decline (and we wanted to try it so it all worked out great) and you must drink below a little stick before you’re considered “done”.  The stick is balanced on the top of the base and has a vertical portion to measure consumption…About a cup by the time you’re finished.  Very low alcohol content and tastes like a sweet Sake.  It’s made from the community sticky rice and fermented for a month.  And it’s poured from that jug right next to the vase that looks exactly like a gasoline jug 👍🏼

Just add to the awesome things we have ingested here 😆!! And no scorpions or cobras in the drink so we are getting smarter!!

The village and general area grows mainly coffee, Peppercorn, sugar cane and rubber trees for those tires on your cars 🚗- and the fragrance from the blooming coffee plant is like an orange blossom- fragrantly floating through the countryside …

Cofffeeeeeeeeeeeee plant!!! yum

Jurai village that we visited:

Rubber trees:

We drove then to Kon Tum- about 40km from Pleiku on the very nicely paved Ho Chi Minh trail.  A lively and welcoming town where we had lunch of locally grown rice and vegetables, pork and soup.  We saw the old 1800’s wooden church built by the catholic missionaries in Kon Tum. The missionaries didn’t reach Pleiku as the Jarai stopped them from furthering their cause into their village. There is a Catholic orfanage on site with about 200 kids.

 We then rode to a tea plantation that has been in operation since 1928- it began under French rule and continues today. Ain’t nothing keeping these strong people down!!

I asked Daddy if he is disappointed that everything had changed so much.  He said he is mostly glad- that meant not only did the war not destroy the ingenuity or resolve of this area and its people- they rebuilt and grew and it’s now totally different, modern and holds no blame nor hatred toward men like Daddy who were sent here to support their country. I think that might all be a great thing but Daddy will have to allow this to sink in completely and decide on his own.  I’m now considering he and I getting a foot massage down on the hotel’s 3rd floor where you can also sing karaoke and/or enjoy a coffee.  We love you and miss you all and I’m one super duper proud daughter.  Much Love- Jarry ❤🇻🇳🙋🏽🎉

We arrived safely in Pleiku…

We rode the 7 hours from Nha Trang to Pleiku today – through coffee plantations and sugar canes growing for days- and arrived around 4pm.  The city is totally unrecognizable to Daddy from his time here. Currently, the population is around 350,000.   We walked around the Ho Chi Minh memorial and the town a bit but nothing looked familiar. Mostly buildings constructed after his time here so I’m sure it’s a little confusing for him. Tomorrow morning we have a guide taking us to Kontum and back through Pleiku so hopefully he can see where he spent all of those days and nights. More to come!! We love you!! Jarry