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Trimble, Ritter tour Vietnam

DeWitt Era-Enterprise of DeWitt, Arkansas

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Anita Trimble, Dorothy Ritter and Micki Kacmar were part of a group of 14 people who were led by their guide, Tran, through 22 days in Vietnam.

The group arrived at Hanoi, a city of 10 million people. They took a walking tour and had supper at Banana Flower Restaurant. They saw the lake where John McCain landed when his plane was shot down duri ng the Vietnam War and were told how the people ranoutand beat him.They visited the "Hanoi Hilton," where he was held prisoner for 5 years.

The next day they visited the Hoh Chi Minh Mausoleum but only saw the outside because the line to get inside was almost two miles long. After supper, they saw the Water Puppet Show. i The group departed the fourth day for Halong Bay; the 90-mile trip took about four hours because of the roads.They boardedajunk for an overnight stay and a cruise on Halong Bay. It was misty and very beautiful as they cruised through the mountains and waterways. The group returned to Hanoi and tlevv to Hue where they visited the Hue Citadel, which was a huge fortress for the old Im perial City. The group said it reminded them of China as it consisted of three concentric enclosures — the Civic, the 1 mpcrial and Forbidden Purple cities. The Citadel was heavily damaged during the war.

The group had a vegetarian lunch at Dieu Thanh Monastery and then visited MinhTu Orphanage, which houses 190 children.

The children sang to everyone in English, and the group gave them gifts that had been brought from home.

On Dec. 26 the group drove four hours to Da Nang/Hoi An and did a walking tour of the ancient town and saw the famous Japanese Bridge. Later they had a cooking demonstration and then dinner at Champa Restaurant.

The next day the group drove to the My Son ruins of the Champa Kingdom. This was a religious center for the Cham people from the fourth to the 13th centuries. There are about 70 temples, but the group was warned not to get off the path because this area was heavily bombed and had huge craters. No one knows why the Cham people left this area. The French discovered these ruins in the 19th century.

That afternoon the groupenjoyed another tour of a scenic area, a boat cruise on the Thu Ban River and supper at the River Lounge.

Tuesday the group left Da Nang for the airport and drove along China Beach and stopped several places for photos.This area, which is really filling up with beautiful resorts, reminded them of the Florida coast. They flew to Nha Trang and then were driven to a small village on a river. They had lunch under some shade trees with the chief of the village, who had served in the Army on the U.S. side and has lived in this area since the war.

Wednesday they took a boat to visit a fishing village on Mieu Island.

Thursday the group left fora long drive to Dalat, a highlands resort built by the French as a summer retreat from the heat of the cities. It was the prettiest city they saw in Vietnam as there was no war there. The buildings were lovely and flowers were everywhere.

While in Dalat, they took a cable car ride to visit the True Lam Buddhist Pagoda, which had lovely gardens with beautiful flowers and a view of the city.

One night they drove to Lat Village where they enjoyed their traditional dancing performance. The group was invited to join in, and they sang "You Are My Sunshine" for the people of the village.

The group flew out of Dalat for Saigon, which has around 8.5 million people. They enjoyed a city tour, which included a lacquer ware workshop, the War Museum (group members thought the view of the war was very one-sided) and drove by the former U .S. embassy and saw where the helicopters took off at the end of the war.

On Jan. 2 the group took a tour to Cu Chi Tunnel (Ben Duoc), a 90-minute drive from Saigon. They were able to crawl through some of the tunnels and were told the history of the tunnels.

Monday they took a bus to the Mekong delta. They watched people cut their rice fields and thrash the rice by hand. The more prosperous ones used water buffalo.

After reaching the delta, they went through the canals that crisscrossed the area in small paddle-boats and visited a fruit garden and a coconut candy workshop. The group was led to a large platform and ate elephant ear fish that had been deep fried whole.

Back in Saigon, the group had their farewell dinner at Pho Co Restaurant.

Trimble, Ritter and Kacmar flew back to Bangkok and left Jan. 5 for their return trip to Houston. Jane and Eric Niebergall picked Tri mble up at the airport. She spent the night in Conroe before driving back to Gillett Thursday with a stop in Texarkana to visit Harvey Cook and his son, Shannon.

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Original Publication Date: February 3, 2011

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