The slide show feature is back by popular demand (definition: one or more person wanting to see another).
About ten years ago, an Australian friend and I talked about riding bicycles from Saigon to Hanoi along Highway 1. It did not happen for a number of reasons (one of which being spousal veto). Because I have traveled along Highway 1 (south of Qui Nhon) in a jeep and have scanned the photos, I want to share these with my friend and anyone else interested in a view from the ground (albeit a bit out of date).
I have mentioned being an adviser to the Korean Tiger Division during the Vietnam War. I hung out at division headquarters or flew helicopters. All real estate outside our (secure) compounds was scary...although not really. We drove into Qui Nhon or to a secluded beach, and no one threw rocks at us. Each far-flung brigade had a US lieutenant colonel as adviser, who usually traveled to and fro by helicopter. We all lived together in a compound within the Korean compound. It was relatively pleasant, as far as war accommodation goes.
One day, one of the Ltc's suggesting driving down Highway 1 to his brigade. I was foolish enough to agree to accompany him. After all, I trusted him. He was more senior and had recommended a good hotel and jewelry shop for my Bangkok R&R. What could go wrong? I assumed that he knew what he was doing, had collected the latest intelligence on enemy activity, and would take no risk with his own life.
We filled up the jeep and armed ourselves with enough weaponry to hold off a peasant with a sling shot. I knew the entire route by heart from the air. The first bit of road was familiar, because I used it often to reach Qui Nhon. Soon, we left the built-up area and climbed the hills that cut through the coastal plain. Traffic was not a problem, because people did not have cars, there were no military vehicles on the road (except fools like us), and no one cruised on the ubiquitous mopeds outside built-up areas. Once we crossed the ridge and descended to the coastal plain, I was relieved to see an Esso truck. I assumed that no one would be crazy enough to be driving a huge Molotov cocktail, if there were danger of a Vietcong attack. I relaxed, enjoyed the scenery, and took photographs (which you may now enjoy without fear of anything).
I do recall mentioning to my friend that a bike ride could be grueling, because of the hills. The photos confirm this. Seeing it once was enough.
Thanks for the pictures. Flying over Vietnam, I was struck by the beauty of the land and often daydreamed of returning when there was no longer a war. Perhaps someday.
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Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.