Wednesday, July 29, 2009

First Impression

Over the next two weeks, we will hear from Chris Wubbena, a sculpture professor at Southeast Missouri State University. He is currently in Vietnam with his father, Ed, and mother, Carla. Ed is a Vietnam War veteran, suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and it’s his first trip to Vietnam in nearly 40 years.

On today’s installment of Chris’s audio journal, he discusses their flight to Vietnam and his father’s observations as they wait for their plane to Hanoi.

We’ve now endured the long plane ride from Chicago, USA to Seoul, South Korea and finally to Hanoi, Vietnam. The twenty-four hours of total travel was nothing compared to the new world we were about to discover. Even though we had done tremendous preparation, we’ve now quickly found that nothing could prepare us for what we were about to experience.

As we sat in Seoul waiting for our flight to Hanoi, it was hard to not think about the fact that we were heading into North Vietnam. Later on my father told me that as we were boarding the plane he kept wondering if any of those people were in the war fighting on the other side, or if they had friends or relatives that were killed because of the war. You could tell that he was contemplating his part in the war as many veterans do. But the amazing thing was that he didn’t show it.

We were heading into what was at an earlier time enemy land and my father was definitely feeling emotions, but it seems that it was a different feeling for him, now 59, as opposed to those feelings he has felt for the last forty years leading up to this trip. It is hard to imagine that the man sitting next to me in the plane was 18 the last time he flew over to Vietnam. He had his 19th birthday when he was in the field. I can’t even remember my 19th birthday.

When we landed in Hanoi, we were greeted by the heat and humidity of Vietnam. The heat was so great at 10 o’clock at night, that I started to wonder how we would be able to handle all of the things we had planned. But right away we were welcomed with open arms by Duong Van Loan, the friend we made over the past year. As we rode to our hotel we were transported into the strange reality of Vietnam with houses stacked on top of each other, side by side, motorcycles weaving in and out of lanes, and drivers honking, swerving, and driving into on coming traffic. We found that driving here is like a continuous game of chicken. We went to bed that night wondering what to expect the next day. We are in North Vietnam.

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