Tuesday, July 28, 2009

This was nice, but you can turn it off now, please

We woke up a few days ago and we were done with this trip -- but this trip wasn't done with us!

First we had to endure a 17-hour death march through the DMZ. Murderously hot. Virulent and/or kitschy propaganda at the war monuments.  Hour upon hour in the back of a poorly air-conditioned car, jouncing along rocky little roads trying to remain scrupulously polite with Mr. Phung, who was lovely but unfailingly formal. It might have been the humidity or it might have been a panic attack, but for a few hours there I thought I was smothering. Remedied the problem with beer at lunch.

Beer also helped us overlook the foulness of the restaurant, a Dong Ha tourist hotel dining room so filthy and vile that my father wiped down the lip of his beer can. I silently fumed at Phung -- who dumped us here and disappeared -- for the rest of the day. I have to say, seething is better than hyperventilating.

It's unseemly, though, to whine about icky restaurants and your vacation dragging on too long when you're visiting Khe Sanh, where 760 Marines died, most of whom, unlike us, did not choose to be there. What a godforsaken place. Achingly beautiful, but godforsaken.

Yesterday: Saigon again, on our own. Had drinks at the Rex, ate our last mangosteen,  got ripped off by some T-shirt vendors at the market, boarded a midnight flight to Seoul.

Which is where we are now, about to take one of the day-tours they offer for people with long layovers. LEAVING NOW. 


  1. Yay! I'm glad you've survived and that you're on your way back. I have so enjoyed hearing about your exotic vacation.

  2. Ugh, I don't do well with humidity either. I think it's my native California wimpiness.

  3. I know one shouldn't complain about humidity or uncomfortable cars when touring a former war zone. Definitely better not too. But then again for some of us there are few circumstances in which, relatively speaking, it is fair to complain. Then again, if all you've done is stub your toe ... well, it still hurts.

  4. I find it a bit - hmmmm.... offputting for you to actually use the phrase "death march" to refer to your elective tour of the DMZ.

    the flippant use of the phrase "death march" is common, I grant, however - this time it's just in poor taste.

    Context is everything.