Heading north out of Ho Chi Minh, the coastal road was full of comfort-free rustbucket buses, flirting with danger on the way to Hanoi. You could be pretty certain that most travellers would be getting out at Nha Trang, for some well earned R&R.
A smaller number took the mountain road to Dalat, while fewer yet trecked out to Vung Tau. Anyone heading west was going to Cambodia. These days, travel in Vietnam must be so much easier, and getting to some of those “hidden gems” would have opened up options for traveler and business alike.
This gallery is a randomish grab-bag of unrelated places, between Saigon and Nha Trang.
300km north-east of Saigon, Dalat sits in the pleasant highland mountains.
Apparently the French, bless 'em, developed the area in the 1900s as a resort.
The town is too hilly for cyclos.
I don't remember much about it, besides the cheesy swan paddle boats on the lake.
130km to the east, on the coast is Nha Trang.
In 1993, it was billed as the up & coming beach destination of Vietnam.
The beach was broad and clean, but it was still a long way from an It Destination.
The big hotel chains had yet to arrive. I presume they have now.
The now famous Nha Trang Sailing Club wasn't even planned yet.
It was still a sleepy beach side town.
The city life was for me as interesting as the beach itself.
The dominant market, possibly the only market was backpackers.
And the biggest character was Mama Hanh, whose boat trips were all about over indulgence.
Weed was traded pretty freely on the beach, which meant good business for the kids doing door-to-door munchies sales.
30 years ago almost! It was a good time, but I guess it is unrecognisable now.
Back closer to Saigon, in Tay Ninh, is a funny religious group, the Cao Dai.
The church has between four and 6 million followers.
The group has been critical of communists prior to 1975 and was banned until the 1990s.
This was one of the first festivals they had been allowed to stage.
Huge numbers of people, with floats and music and chanting and I can't remember what.
A fire breathing dragon, of course.
Venerable Saints include Victor Hugo, Sun Yat Sen and Trạng Trình Nguyễn Bỉnh Khiêm.
Lastly, soldier and friend Sandy lays a wreath at Long Thanh, site of Australia's deadlist battle in that war. Long Thanh is the only permitted foreign memorial to the war.