On August 7, 1995, we took a twenty-four hour train ride on the S3 from Hué to Saigon. The first photo shows a typical view from the train in central Vietnam.
I think it was on this train ride that I met a man of about my age who turned out to be a retired general from the (North) Vietnamese army. He was traveling with two of his grandchildren, and when he heard that I was an American army veteran he was very interested in talking with me.
The trouble was that we had no common language. My few words of Vietnamese were enough to explain that I had been a radio operator at Phước Vĩnh and that I had done a lot of interpreting between tiếng Anh (English) and tiếng Pháp (French) while I was stationed in the village of Tân Ba. But that was about it.
Some people sitting near us who spoke a bit of English or French tried to help, so we did succeed in having a slow and very rudimentary conversation, the main point of which was that there was no anger or vengefulness on either side.
This was my experience everywhere I went in Vietnam in 1995, which in retrospect I find quite amazing considering that our two governments had been fighting a bitter war just twenty years before.
On this trip we must have gone through Xuan Loc, my last duty station as a soldier in Vietnam. The train probably even stopped at Xuan Loc station, but we were asleep and didn’t notice.
Thanks to my son Nick for the photos from 1995. I revised the text in 2017.
Next: Mekong Delta tour 1995
4 thoughts on “By train from Hué to Saigon, 1995”
Thanks for that, fantastic, would love to go to Vietnam
It’s great to hear that you were welcomed in Vietnam and that you could meet and talk (albeit in a limited fashion) with someone from the ‘other side’
So often it isn’t the people who are at war, Don, it is our leaders. Too bad we couldn’t put those leaders into a pen to duke it out. It would have saved a lot of innocent lives.
The conversation, even though communication between you both wasn’t easy, obviously left a lasting impression on you