For this trip, lets go south rather than north from Sài Gòn. Lets go to Bình Chánh, a place some of us remember well from 1967.
Back then, Bình Chánh was a bucolic farm village on Route 4, the main artery into the Mekong River delta area. The road had two lanes and was in terrible condition. We were well away from the city.
“Bucolic village?” Today Bình Chánh is part of Hồ Chí Minh City. ( By the way - nobody calls it Hồ Chí Minh City - locals still call it Sài Gòn. Hồ Chí Minh City has too many syllables.) To get there, just point yourself south out of the central area.
Think of Bình Chánh as a poorer suburb - an area of town that is less expensive than the central part of the city. Just off the main road are factories, many of them Taiwanese companies. Like Biên Hòa to the north, it has easy access to the deep water ports of Sài Gòn. (More about the port in stories titled The Tourists and Its Only Wrap and Roll.)
Traffic gets a little crowded once you get into Bình Chánh because the roadway narrows from six lanes to only four. But you know where you are - look at the sign on the bank.
I have some buddies from B 3/7 Infantry from way back then. (If you don’t know what that militaryese means, don’t worry about it.) Guys - this bank sits at the entrance road to the old fire base we operated out of in 1967.
I even found “Booby Trap Alley”, our nickname for a large dike used like a trail or small dirt road. Some of the readers of this post were badly wounded on Booby Trap Alley - but here it is today, still used for transportation.
So too I found where the school house had been. Of course, I use the term “school house” to refer to the company operating base that was a partially destroyed school building - children never used it while we were there. Today, a young man runs a prosperous exotic bird and fish store on the site of our old stompin’ grounds - and took great pleasure in showing off his wares.