Journal of my Tour by jeep of Thailand, Cambodja and Vietnam, November, 1956, p.42


NOVEMBER, 1956 , page 42

That afternoon I walked through town, and one of the things I did was looking for places to change dollars. The banks were all close together and had to charge official rates and keep numerous Government rules. The official rate was 68, while the American marine had assured me that the open (black) market offered 110. So I engaged in a conversation with an Indian gent, trader in textiles, and named all the Indian textile dealers in Bangkok, which did not impress him enough to offer more than 80. So I politely wished him all kinds of nasty things and decided to go the bar-route. I ordered a beer and managed to strike up a conversation with the bar manageress, an elderly French lady who was at first extremely reserved and absolutely refused to venture in the dangerous exchange business. But she ended up refering me to her Indian neighbor, "because I was not an American". She told me how Americans had made themselves unpopular here which had resulted in a re-appreciation of the French.
The neighbor gave me a rate of 104 and I used the proceeds to go to the market and buy underwear. I got a good deal on a packet of 4 underpants, which later that evening proved to be made for ladies in the first place, and exceptionally small -say daintly - ladies in the second. To punish myself for this stupidity, I wore them till they were worn out, months later.
I spent an hour in the Botanical Garden, which is very well maintained, and there made the decision not to stay in Saigon overnight, but to pitch my tent somewhere "in the bush". Several times I was shown or took the wrong way, but finally ended up on the road to Dalat, in a long single line of traffic waiting to cross a narrow one-way bridge. Right after this bottle-neck the road was fine, leading past rubber plantations and emergency camps for "Displaced persons" from North Vietnam. I missed a splendid opportunity to take a picture of 4 girls in native dresses.

Just before sunset I turned into a small side road which ended in an open field where a group of laborers were busy building a stone house. I could hardly talk with them and did not take them up on the offer to sleep in the house that night. Instead, I pitched my tent , ate some dried fish dinner with the men and went to bed early.
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<NOTE added March 10, 2002: Unfortunately, this is the end of the transcribed part and my original journal appears "mislaid". So the remainder is from memory, aided by photos.
It was a cold night again - I heard that temperatures around Dalat drop to 10o C around this time of the year - so I kept on all my clothes, adding my sarong and a couple of towels at 4 a.m the next morning.
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