Vietnamese Interpreter, Food Demonstrator, Rock Climber

My Journey to America – The Year of the Earth Monkey

The very next day at the hospital, my mom overheard a rumor that a bridge called “Cầu Bà Chiểu” was bombed.  This bridge crossed over a small river called Sông Phú Nhuận. The river flowed to Sông Hồng Hà. Cầu Bà Chiểu bridge was the main thorough fair from Chợ Lớn to Bình Thạnh district.

For fear of her husband and her children’s safety, immediately, my mom packed me, all her belongings and checked out. Sounds of explosions were echoing in the distance. Her mind was filled with doubts and worries. The street was empty from the usual local vendors and traffic was scarce. Luckily, a motorized cyclo (Xích-Lô Máy) passed by. Holding me in one arm, my mom waved furiously signaling for the motorized cyclo to stop. My mom had to see for herself if the bridge rumor was true.

Xích Lô Máy 1968

Cyclo is a three-wheel transportation vehicle. It has a bucket seat with two large wheels in front for the passengers.  The third wheel is located behind the bucket seat in the back.  The Cyclo is powered by a motorcyclist behind the bucket seat.  A motorized cyclo is powered by a motor and a driver behind a bucket seat.

Sitting in the motorized cyclo bucket seat with me bundled up, my mom spotted the bridge from the distance. The bridge was untouched and the bombing rumor was false.  My mom sighed with relief. Again, luck was on our side. They passed the bridge as she always did. The driver dropped her off at the entrance of an alley that led to my parent’s home. My mom called out to one of the neighbor’s kids to notify my dad. The neighborhood was oblivious to the number of bombings and destruction southwest of them.

My dad picked us up.  He and I met for the very first time.  He welcomed me to this world.  My parents apologized to me.  For such an innocent child, I had to witness and endured such madness in a chaotic time.  I did not benefit from a luxurious welcome of an average newborn.  My welcome music was the rhythm of explosions and the screaming sounds of war.  Hmmm, no wonder I gravitated and thrived in chaos. Perhaps, that was the beginning of what had shaped me into who I am today.

On May 10, 1968, peace talks begin in Paris but soon stall as the U.S. insists that North Vietnamese troops withdraw from the South, while the North Vietnamese insist on Việt Cộng’s participation in a coalition government in South Vietnam. This marks the beginning of five years of on-again-off-again official talks between the U.S. and North Vietnam in Paris.

Visit my next article “My Journey to America – Reincarnation” for the next chapter of my journey. Please leave a comment of your thoughts below.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.