DECEMBER 22, 2020
Vietnam in 2002 was still untouched for the most part and perceived as “Dangerous” for Americans. Sorta. At the time, South Vietnam loved us, but in North Vietnam we were told and did speak like Aussies. We had to chose Austrailia because we could not pass as the Swedish or German youth we ran into. Although we did learn Swedish at every opportunity One night we were raided and chased by the military police at a dance club in Hanoi. I’ll never forget the army coming in and everyone scream, run, and then the daring escape & romantic carriage ride under moonlit, quite streets of Hanoi with a couple of gals we escaped with from Wharton Business School. It was the next day we all had to depart to our next adventure. This time Jake and our backpacking friend Parker went south to Halong Bay yet myself, as I had yet to travel alone in the world wanted to see the mountains instead of the beach…. I needed Solo time. Well….let me tell you, that was a mistake and blessing. I failed to register my presence and when I was enquiring about security in the region to hike the jungles on the Chinese border…I was swiftly placed under house arrest and this guy…THIS guy with an AK-47 would not let me go ANYWHERE alone. I had a guy with a machine gun escort me straight to the hotel room and I was locked up! By the end of the day, there was a knock on the door. It opened and I was then escorted to a board room with these guys and machine guns. I sat there. I remember this big long board room table that sat 20+. The lady who owned the Hotel I stayed at came in and sat next to me with horrible fear and her head was down. She was silent. Then come 6-8 high ranking Vietnamese Military Officers. You know…the ones with all the glam on their uniforms. I couldn’t count the stars and colors but they were numerous. I was under House Arrest an entire day because they had to come all the way from Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi. I sat there. It was silent. All I can remember is the highest ranking official speaking and the anger growing in his voice. Then his fist slamming on the table and pointing at me. The poor lady was crying. I had no idea what was going on…obviously since I only learned Swedish pick up lines on my trip. “Du har mikki mikki vacker” Vad vil du ha vat drinka?” or something like that. So I ask her “what is going on?” She said “They think you a Spy” …My jaw dropped and I am sure I said “ohhhh…” I told her to say no! I was just Visitor from America. Or an idiot. Obviously I looked like James Bond but I was not a Spy! After a few more minutes of slamming fists and yelling, it became silent for about an hour of reviewing papers with myself and this sweet lady left alone with security guards in the boardroom. The highest ranking officers returned to discuss the verdict and dropped the charges against me. Thankful for myself and the sweet lady who stood up for me. Brother Jake & our friend Parker finally arrive and these pics are the days following our journey…to living in those North Vietnamese mountains/jungles. My is the young girl who was our guide and cooked for us. And yes, that it hemp! Used for clothing there and an opportunity for a photo bomb!