I am on a plane to Asia: Beijing, Viet Nam, Cambodia. This is a bucket-list trip for me, something I only pondered but never thought could actually happen. The trip began as an Olivia lesbian tour of Viet Nam and Cambodia. Viet Nam was so important in my life when I was in college in the late 1960s. Many friends from high school were drafted and sent to a country on the other side of the world in which there was no declared war. My cousin Jeff was there, too…killed in August, 1969, during his third tour of duty. I didn’t understand the war and spent many, many hours picketing, demonstrating, and otherwise creating havoc as a student at the University of Florida.
During my tenure at UCLA, I met many dear precious students who were from Viet Nam. I listened to their stories and the stories they learned from their parents…very different experiences from those of my friends who served during the Viet Nam war. I began to feel a dull nag, a tug, a growing desire to see the place that had such different meanings for people in my life.
And now, I sit on Delta flight 192, with cousin Jeff’s military information in my pocket. When I get to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, I will hold my own private memorial for him, to remember that he was there, serving his country in a war that made no sense to anyone…not to us, not to them, not to me. And I feel honored to be setting feet on a land that gave so many beautiful students to me. The family/friends connection to Viet Nam has been strong and now I am lucky enough to see and feel and know….
But first, a hike on the Great Wall during a three-day visit to Beijing with Kelly…
What travels are on your bucket list, and what’s stopping you from going?