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This year's RASigs 40th Anniversary Reunion was held in and around Ho Chi Minh City/Vung Tau, Vietnam over the period 15-22 August 2012.
Congratulations must be given to the organisers, who began planning for the accomodation, itinerary and needs of nearly 200 veterans, family and friends a couple of years back.
Personally, the seed for joining this year's Reunion began with a quiet word with my brother John (the Vietnam Vet) after seeing the intitial plan at Buddha's Place early in 2011. By May 2011, John, his wife Val, their son #1 Adrian and his wife Kara had confirmed their attendance so all we had to do was pay the $'s and wait for August 2012 to roll up. Not long after, a work collegue of mine (Brett) made enquiries with the organisers if he and his wife Korina could also attend as friends of mine.
Unfortunately, due to circumstances unknown, myself, Brett and Korina were not placed in the same group as John (& family). We did however make up for lost time during the larger functions and any free evenings. .....still, it was a sad part to what otherwise was an enjoyable event.
Anyhoo, I hit town a couple of days earlier with Brett and Korina and left a day after the Reunion's conclusion, by this time most participants had moved onto other tours or travelled homewards. Below are images taken during my stay with the odd word or three on how things were at the time.
To the left are odds 'n' sods picked up over the period (cards, guides, tickets etc). To view any image, just click on it and a new window/tab "should" open.
As an aside, Brett was the unwitting subject of a series of Postcards I sent back to work. I used an App from a mob called Touchnote, where I uploaded my own photos and they then printed and posted the completed Postcard for around $A1.49 and delivered in around three days. A very good service and I highly recommend them. The card series can be seen here, a 1.8mb .pdf file (best viewed at 100%).
Ho Chi Minh City (pre-Reunion), Day One
This was my first visit to Asia (Singapore doesn't count). So, my first impression? HOT. DAMN HOT! Mind you after leaving a -3degC morning in Canberra where the flight was delayed because the aircraft had to be de-iced, the heat was a pleasant change..... for about 2 minutes. As we had arrived late in the afternoon, just about all we did was have a bit of a walk around and locate the nearest Irish Pub. The next day we followed Bob Murdoch to the city's markets. Bob then disappeared leaving us on our "Pat Malone". The following photos basically cover our first full day where we learnt that surviving a road crossing was a lot easier than it looks and to have a successful trip to the markets, you need to send some other numbskull into the t-shirt department as the point man who is preferably much, much larger than yourself.
Today we ventured out into HCMC's late morning peak hour for a walk further afield where we somehow ended up at the Reunification Palace. Even though we'd be re-visiting the following day when the Reunion started off, we thought "what the heck" and paid our 30,000d (about $A1.40) got our ticket and made our way through the gift shop and onto the Palace grounds.
This is from when the "Olds & Bolds" gathered. You may notice that I have not included many photos of participants, as I do not take "people" photos (let's be honest, I'm shy and cr*p at it) and besides there are more than enough images floating around the web at the moment on Facebook and other social media websites to satisfy anyone's need for a gander. There is a good collection of photo links at Buddha's Place just near the top of the page. If anyone has photos of Brett and the chilli incident, let me know. As I'm willing to barter for hi-res copies.
The following cover what I saw through the lens when we were out and about over the Reunion period and generally follows the Reunion Itinerary with a couple of walk-arounds and side trips. One such side-trip was the walk to visit the JC statue at Vung Tau. I didn't manage to count the stairs as I was to busy sweating. Aren't those Cu Chi Tunnels squeezy? Kudos to the soldiers who ventured down there with nothing other than an Army issue torch, a 9mm Browning and their brass monkeys.
While everyone was off touring the countryside on their post Reunion tours or jetting back to Oz, I made do with a visit to the Saigon Zoo & Botanical Gardens where I was lucky to have a postcard re-seller lift 500,000d ($23.30) from my wallet. Mind you, the price was worth it when I'd finished walking around the gardens and exited via a different gate and "bumped" into him again. Also made a solo trip to the markets, where I made sure to avoid the t-shirt department.
No need to say it, but just a reminder, all of the above (except where indicated) is my own work. These are lo-res versions of the originals and if there are any that take your fancy and you'd like a hi-res copy for your own personal use (or even commercial use), then send me an email via the address included on this Copyright Notice.
For the photographically minded, the gear (contact me for a more up to date list) I used during this trip included a Canon 50d and Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4.5 & Sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 lenses along with a graduated ND filter. The 17-70mm lens was used every day except for pre-Reunion, Day Two. The grad ND was used on two occasions, the HCMC Post Office and the JC Statue in Vung Tau. Generally, unless lighting was very low (ala tunnels), the camera was set to AV (Apeture Priority) with a setting of f8. ISO was set to Auto after reading a recent scientific study. Flash was not used. Post production was conducted using both Lightroom 4 and Photoshop CS3.