Following their visit to Ho Chi Minh City, Ed, Carla, and Chris Wubbena headed to Nui Ba Dan. Chris anticipated that this would be the most emotional leg of their travels. He wrote:
Nui Ba Den is a mountain in the southwest part of Vietnam near Cambodia. It isn’t a part of a mountain range, but rises out of the flat rice fields that surround it. In 1969, when my father was firing howitzers just outside of Tay Ninh, Nui Ba Den was their target. The mountain was a hotly contested site as it sat at the end of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the main supply route stretching from north to south for the North Vietnamese. There were North Vietnamese troops attempting to take the mountain and US troops trying to prevent it. And it is this mountain that I have heard my father talk about more than anything else. We were finally back.
As we drove up to the mountain where we were going to enter a park to take a lift up the mountain, I wondered what this must mean for my father. Is this going to be the pinnacle of the trip? Is this going to be greatest emotional test? What is going to be revealed from this trip, today, here, at this former battle zone? Then my father said, “well this is the closest I’ve ever been to the mountain,” and it seemed that he was at peace with the mountain and that maybe I was anticipating the wrong thing.
We took cable car lifts up to a Temple for the Black Virgin, which the mountain is named after. The temple was beautiful. After taking innumerable photos we sat to take a break. All of a sudden a man we had spoken to earlier came and sat down beside my father and began to ask where he was from and things like that. Ultimately we met his family and learned that they were from Ho Chi Minh City. It was such delightful conversation outside of the temple that we almost forgot to go inside. The conversation ended after the man gave my father his phone number just in case he needed any help when in Ho Chi Minh City.
Listen to Chris talk about their visit to the Nui Ba Den.