Viet Nam Tours -
The Long Tan Trek Tour Report - 2014
This page records the October 2014 Long Tan Trek Tour.
(Last updated 4 November 2016)

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[
Almost all photos used in this Report
were taken by the 2014 Tour members
and members of earlier Tours - thanks Mike,
Jim, Bill, Warren, Di and others.
]

 

 

 

 

The Grand Hotel is centrally located, handy to the city centre and had recently been refurbished.


From the rooftop bar, there are great views of both the city and the river.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Tour Guide Tina explains the Palace, once the residence of the serving President of South Viet Nam, is now renamed the "Reunification" Palace.

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



...and, of course, the
War Remnants Museum
was on our visiting list:


 

 

 

 

 

 

...and we ended up at the
Ben Thanh markets...

 

 

 

 

 

after which it was lunch
and a free afternoon...
...with drinks at the Rex...
...or just shopping...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are efforts under way to locate the crater in which many of the NVA dead were buried. The Aussies are working with the VN Government on this search.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Huge B-52 bomb craters
still pock-mark a rubber plantation near the site of Balmoral (remember, this crater is now 50 years old). They still dwarf the sightseer and are still very impressive!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The original cross was of special interest to Tour member, Verity, who was researching the battle for a play she's writing.
(
2016 update: the play is written
and is now in rehearsals.
It is due to be staged
in Adelaide in mid-2017. See:
http://www.statetheatrecompany.com.au

 

 

 

 


Vung Tau is a fishing and resort area and the step-off point for the many oil rigs off shore.

 

 

There were several Powerpoint presentations thru the Tour, each on a decisive battle we'd cover the following day

 

One of the map/diagrams of the battle of Long Tan...

 

 

 

 

The 'Pearly Gates' - the entrance to 1ATF after the public road had been diverted (after 1967).

 

 

 

On an old helipad half-way up Nui Dat ('SAS Hill'), Dave,  briefed the Tour on the layout of the 1ATF base.

 

 

 

 

Verity shows some of the Kindy kids some modern technology...

...or is she asking how to use it?

 

 

 

 

 


Strangely enough, it has only ever rained on the Trek Tour once - that was on the 2010 Trek... our second time out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Trek route took us from the Nui Dat base to the Long Tan rubber plantation.  through grasslands, plantations, crops and even through the backyards of homes built since the war...

 

 

 

 

The opening shots of the battle were fired by 11 Pl Sgt Bob Buick as he crossed this road in the plantation at this spot...

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the battlefield - the younger rubber trees permit a view of
Nui Dat 2 hill which overlooks the battlefield from the North.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many Tour members remarked on how small the actual battlefield was - just some 500 yards square.
 

 

 

 

 

 

A wreath was laid
on behalf of the Tour Group,
National Network Travel
and the AVVRG.
 


Rob and Verity and Dave


Matthew and Simon and Dave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Tour Guide Ms Huong stands on what was the minefield, now a road. The rim of the Horseshoe is in the background.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


A pair of golden dragons protect the memorial to a Vietnamese heroine of the resistance of the French.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almost all meals were included: set-menu with buy-your-own drinks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the caves require a trek through the hills...

...but once there, they're worth the visit..

...many being really only the dirt excavated from between huge boulders.

 

 

 

 

 

Before boarding the boats, we visited a monument dedicated to one of the last battles of the Third Indo-Chine War - the one in 1975 which ended in the fall of Saigon.  The Vung Tau Peninsula was one of the places of last resistance by the South of the North...

The boat ride gives the Tour a feel for riverine ops conducted by the Aussies in the mangrove swamps.  But don't worry - it's smooth sailing - and no one shoots at us.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




Hydrofoil jetty at Vung Tau.

The Hydrofoil is a 90 minute trip up (or down) the Saigon River, between Saigon and Vung Tau on the Cap St Jacques Peninsula.

 


The slimmer and fitter of us tried the VC 'spiderholes' - (actually, only two takers)...

...once a soldier...
...but not like the old days -  this time they were being charged $2 per round!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While this group were at the cross, the Australian Consul-General from Saigon (HCMC),  John McAnulty AM and his wife, Michelle, visited the cross and were happy to join us in a group photo...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Rosemary receives her Trek Plaque, watched by Tina.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marble Mountain - with caves used as secret wartime VC hospitals - now serves as a Buddhist sanctuary area.

 

 

 

 

 

The mountains are surrounded by marble carving factories and merchants, but the marble is now all imported.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The silk factory shows how silk is processed and turned into paintings, table linen etc.

 

 


 




Bill and Jill get "taken for a ride"...
 

 


...there was a photo
wherever you looked...

 

 

 

 


At China Beach,
resorts have now crowded out
the war-time memories but the
beach is hardly buzzing
as it was in 1966-1972.
That's "Monkey Mountain"
across the water...

 

 

 


There's nothing left at
Red Beach II, where the Marines waded ashore in 1965, except
the beach and the low clouds.

 

 

 


French fortifications in the
Hai Van Pass north of Da Nang...

 

 

 

 

 

 

...and the old (destroyed) bridge at Lang Co.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 


Our Tour Guide explains the history of the Thien Mu Pagoda
 

 



Tran Cao Van (Street) as it was in 1968 & (below) in Oct 2014.

 

 


Lunch was in a delightful French restaurant near the Citadel on the North side of the river...

 

 

 


Restoration work...

 

 

On the afternoon off, some visited the heritage listed
Tu Duc Tombs.


We stayed at the Hotel Saigon Morin - seen again at the end of the bridge in the photo at the right.....

 


The Quang Tri citadel was heavily fought over in 1972.


Long Hung Catholic Church - damaged in the Tet '72 fighting and left by Quang Tri city as a war monument.

 

 


A small museum briefs visitors to the tunnels...


...before they venture underground (the flash makes it look bright but in fact it's very dim)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

'Freedom Bridge' is the old Bailey Bridge spanning the Son Ben Hai (river) which was the actual demarcation between North and South Vietnam.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The "Rockpile", with "Razor-back" visible to right rear.  Rockpile was owned by the US, Razorback by the NVA.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Khe Sanh monument,
on the turnoff on Route 9
to the former battle site.

 

Khe Sanh has a great indoor and outdoor museum (seen in both photos here).  They're assembling more displays at Khe Sanh - maybe to become a major tourist site?

 

 

 

 


Da Krong Bridge saw heavy fighting during the 60s and 70s but this is a new bridge to replace the one destroyed several times during the War

 

Both Da Krong and A Shau valleys offered spectacular views of rivers between huge mountain ranges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The streets of the Old Quarter were always crowded and busy.

 

But most streets have merchandise 'themes', so it's fairly easy to find whatever you're looking for.

 

 

 

 

Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum isn't open to the public in October or November...

 

 

 

The visit to the War Museum was interesting and included an animated diorama on Dien Bien Phu - good preparation for the trip there tomorrow...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

...and the visit to the infamous 'Hanoi Hilton' capped off the day's activities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A briefing on the current state of POW-MIA searches was given to the Tour group by the US Marine "JPAC Detachment 2" office in Hanoi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The airstrip at Dien Bien Phu sits in the valley floor, still overlooked by the hills which once held the Viet Minh artillery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Picturesque views and terraced rice paddies belie the history of the area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The large Viet Minh cemetery is well tended and offers visitors a view of the human price of the First Indo-China War - thousands of names are recorded by home Province and most of the grave stones are un-named.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A second-hand tank on Hill A1 provided the opportunity for a (primarily) ex-3RAR Kodak Moment.

 

Vietnam's largest bronze statue sits on top of the main "Dominique" hill, overlooking Dien Bien Phu town.

 

 

 

 

 

The French memorial at DBP is one of only two foreign war memorials on Vietnamese soil - the other one being the ANZAC memorial cross at Long Tan.  This French plinth is actually a memorial to various French units rather than to the Battle itself.

 

 

 

 

A visit to DeCastre's bunker, which has now been better protected by having a cover placed over it...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DBP now has a new Museum which is one of the better museums in Viet Nam.  It is just across the road from the Hero's Cemetery and is well worth an hour or two to visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the way back to the airport, we stopped for a quick look at the famous Bailey Bridge - still in daily use more than 60 years after it was put there by the French.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


What a way to end the Tour - a day on the water in Ha Long Bay

Spectacular and peaceful - Ha Long Bay well deserves its World Heritage listing.

Only the huge limestone caves could entice us off the boats and onto dry land...

...because even the shopping was on the water !


Bill tries a cave on for size...

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 


But then it was time
to say "goodbye"...

Photo: Bob (2010 tour)

Our thanks to:
Mike, Jim, Bill, Jillian, Warren, Di and their cameras for their photos.

And as we get other
photos we'll add and acknowledge them too.

Finally, a big vote of thanks (again!) to National Network Travel's
Judi Gifford,
 who you've all talked to but most haven't met:

"
Thanks, Judi - it wouldn't have happened without you!"

All the best...
Dave & Di Sabben

 

 -------------- LONG TAN TREK TOUR 2014  --------------

Di and Dave's 2014 Long Tan Trek Tour departed Australia 11 October with 15 passengers (11 gents, 4 ladies), with ages ranging from the 20s to the 70s.

                                       
                    The Flyer for                         The Itinerary for the Tours:       
                   the 2014 Tour            2014 Trek (South) Tour & 2014 DBV (North) Tour
                     
(1 page)                          (8 pages)          (10 pages)

==============================================

The 2014 Tour flew Singapore Airlines from several State capitals to Singapore, where the Tour Group assembled.  From there, a short flight to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC, but we'll call it 'Saigon').  We booked in to the Grand Hotel - the tour uses 4-star hotels where available:

The first day took in a tour of Saigon, which not only introduced us to Saigon traffic but also to some of the city's outstanding landmarks:
   
...the Notre Dame Cathedral, the architecture of the central Post Office, (from the steps of the Post Office, you can still see the the building from which the last civilian  evacuations from Saigon flew out in 1975 (there had been no US military in Saigon for 2.5 years).
 
...the Peoples Committee Hall... and ...the Reunification Palace...
 
Inside the Palace we saw the communications rooms, the many reception rooms and a glimpse into the private living areas of the President:
 

While still at the Palace, we had a group photo taken:

The city tour ended at the Ben Thanh markets, with the afternoon...

...free to shop or acclimatise - or maybe just enjoy a drink at 'The Rex'...

The day ended with a slide presentation on Coral/Balmoral in preparation for tomorrow's outing.  This was followed by a 'welcome dinner' and then a fairly early night for most.  Next day, it was a bus north from Saigon to the area of the large battle of Balmoral...

The Balmoral battle site is now a rubber plantation. The lighter area beyond the old rubber used to be the clearing in front of D Coy.  The layout of the Battalion position was explained, along with an account of the actions.

The many B52 bomb craters are still scattered throughout the plantation, still as huge and deep as they used to be, despite many being filled with water...

We then moved on to the site of FSB Coral, where we paid our respects at the NVA memorial plinth and lit joss sticks for the shrine...
 

Then it was on to lunch in Bien Hoa, followed by a visit to the Dong Nai Museum which houses the original Long Tan cross (a replica stands in the Long Tan rubber plantation at the site of the battle).

After lunch, we bussed down Route 15 to Vung Tau.  There's nothing of note remaining of the 1ALSG site.  We then enjoyed a dusk cyclo ride...
 
...to the Muong Thanh Hotel...
 

After an evening briefing on the Australian presence in Viet Nam generally and on the Long Tan battle in particular...

...we bussed through the old 'Pearly Gates' to Nui Dat, where Dave and others explained the base layout and the NVA's intentions for a huge attack on the base set for the night of the 18th of August 1966.


Next stop was a visit to the Nui Dat Kindy.  Our visits to the Kindy are always appreciated - not least because we always bring long-life milk and presents for the children...


After the Kindy, we started the Trek...

Over the years we've made the Trek a little easier when it comes to water crossings.  This year, we had a small movable "bridge" made (Thank you, Mr Ha and Tour Guide Mr Wombat) and it was well received when we had to cross two deep channels...
 
Along the way, there were a few stops for refreshments - chances for Dave to fill in more details of the movement back in 1966.

After lunch, it was on with the battlefield Trek...
 

Along the way, Dave described what was happening in "real time" "sitreps" - that is, since the Trek took the same time as the battle, those on the tour "experienced" the timings of the events, the delays and the sequences in detail - what took ten minutes in the Battle took ten minutes for the Tour. And those on the tour were able to ask questions and get details along the way.

At 600 and 1000 metres from the main battlefield, Dave also pointed out the places where the APC reinforcement column with A/6 aboard contacted the enemy on their way towards D/6.

Very little of the topography has changed in 48 years, tho' the slight rise that D/6 used for its final redoubt is now a slight depression.  Unfortunately, the removal of the rubber trees made the battlefield much more "open" and "visible".  It was difficult to imagine the lack of visibility within the plantation but, on the other hand, it was easy to imagine the lack of cover available on a flat piece of ground!

As a small but relevant diversion, here's a panoramic photo of the battle area taken from the top of Nui Dat 2 just to the north of the battlefield.  You will see how flat the ground is.  The Long Tan cross is the tiny speck of white at the extreme left edge of the top pic.  I have overlaid a duplicate of the photo with the positions of groups at the battle and have added some of the landmarks.  You can download a copy of this by clicking on the image...

Back to the Trek... As usual, the comments were that it was the highlight of the Tour - the Long Tan battlefield looks VERY similar to the way it looked in 1966. The walk was timed to be as long as the actual battle took - some 3.5 hours.  We walked to all the places where the D/6 soldiers experienced significant events during the battle - the initial contact, the first and final Company positions, the left hook by 10 Platoon, the right hook by 12 Platoon, the place the Company HeadQuarters (CHQ) took the ammo resupply and, of course, the place of the heroic stand by 11 Platoon.

The Tour ended the Trek at the Cross - the site of the gallant 11 Platoon action - at 5:00pm, in time for a short ceremony and photos:


A full group photo taken at the Cross

Then back to Vung Tau and the Grand.  On the next day, the Tour visited an AVVRG-supported dental clinic at Long Tan to see further Australian charity at work.  The facility is also used for other medical purposes.  On the day of our visit, it was an immunisation day for Rubella...

We then visited the Horseshoe but access to the former FSB is no longer permitted as it is now a working quarry:
 

A short drive through the nearby town of Dat Do took us to a road and paddy field which were formerly the infamous minefield - that's the Horseshoe and the rice paddy in the background of the pic below:
 
Tour Guide Wombat explained how the VC lifted the mines...
 
...before venturing into the Light Green to the vicinity of the mine incident on Operation Mundingburra (on day 3 - 21 July 1969) which gave rise to the song "I Was Only 19".  Tour member, Mike Rogers, was in BHQ, 6RAR second tour at the time and filled the Trek Tour group in on the events from notes he brought with him:
 
...after which he and his son, Luke, had a "Kodak Moment" on the spot where 7RAR flew out of Operation Ulmarra in August 1967 - this has become one of the iconic photos of the ANZAC's War and the once-clear area is now suburbia...

After this, it was lunch at the Tropicana:

...and onto the Minh Dam Temple in the southern slopes of the Long Hai's.

 
The more adventurous souls decided to spend a little time underground...
 

...and then to Ba Ria for a short boat ride to Cat Lo wharf...



The next day, Thu 16 Oct, was a "free day" in Vung Tau.  Some shopping, some pub-cruising in the numerous bars (many owned and run by ANZAC expatriates), some (like Bill) chose sight-seeing...  A popular visit was to the Worldwide Arms Museum in Vung Tau.  Others (like Warren) chose just to show the flag and sample the local ("333" beer) produce:

Next morning it was goodbye to Vung Tau as Di took the Trek group back by hydrofoil to Saigon...

...and thence to Cu Chi for a riverside lunch and a tour of the tunnels..


Warren and Rosemary made a couple of new friends and Bill fired off a few AK47 rounds... then it was back to Saigon.

Meanwhile, Dave had remained in Vung Tau to meet up with the group who were going to join us on the Extension Tour North, to take them to the Long Tan cross...

We were also joined by Tony T, an ex-Nasho and former OTU Scheyville graduate, who happened to be in the area when we were there and joined the group.
 

After another 'Farewell Dinner' in Saigon, at which we handed a Trek plaque to each 'Trekker', we had a final night at the Grand, Saigon.

Next day, for those not on the "Decisive Battlefields" extension tour, it was RTA (Return to Australia).

 

----------------- DECISIVE BATTLEFIELDS TOUR 2014 -----------------

From Saigon, the "Decisive Battlefields Tour" flew to Da Nang airport.

A quick transfer to lunch, and then to Marble Mountain.  It's a steep staircase to climb (and to descend again later), but it's assisted now by an elevator to about half-way up.  All agree it's worth the effort...

A short trip south took us to world heritage listed Hoi An for two nights.  On arrival, we visited a silk factory...
 
...where orders for bespoke silk clothing can be placed with a 24-hour delivery to the hotel.  Silk pictures and silk-embroidered linen were also popular purchases.

A cyclo ride is the best way to view the old city: Tour Guide Mr Dung (pronounced "Yoong" if you're curious - that's him on the bicycle) led the way...

The cyclo ride took in several places of historic interest, with the history of each explained by our Tour Guide...

...ending up at the old Japanese bridge... ...then into one of the oldest houses in the town, where again, hand-embroidered linen was a good buy...

The next day was  a 'day off' - to recover from the hectic first week and prepare for the hectic week to come.  A little relax and a little sightseeing, and we were ready for more.

We returned to Da Nang, one of the largest American and South Vietnamese bases during the War.  First, a visit to China Beach (a Wartime R&C Centre)...


and then to Red Beach II, where the first US combat troops (Marines) landed in 1965.

Then it was up over the Hai Van Pass - (that's it in the hills behind Mick and Ian in the photo above).  A concrete pillbox on either side of the road (both seen in the pic below) were part of the defences installed by the French, but the Pass had been defended as far back in time as records exist:

We then continued around the mountains to Lang Co (another huge Marines' base, mostly for river and coastal patrol boats).  While there, we looked at what's left of the original bridge and the fortifications which protected it during the War:

Then it was on to Hue, and, after lunch, a relaxing Dragon Boat cruise up the Perfume River to the Thien Mu Pagoda... 

The next morning we walked the area of heaviest fighting south of the Perfume River - concentrating on Tran Cao Van (Street), where we had a quiet moment for the marines who died while re-taking the city... and a group photo to remember it all by...

 
Parts of the city still show the scars of war
in the walls and buildings, but the city's
rebuilding program is slowly wiping away
this visual history.

The photo at right was taken
on the 2016 Tour and shows
this wall now "restored".

In the afternoon we moved north of the River, to the Citadel, where the main Tet 1968 resistance was experienced.

There's a lot of restoration work in progress in the Citadel...
 

The afternoon was free time for shopping and sightseeing...

The next day we bussed north to the DMZ.  On the way we stopped off at the Long Hung Catholic church (which is kept in its 1970's condition as a war memorial to the fighting in Quang Tri), Quang Tri Citadel, Dong Ha (the logistics centre for the DMZ), and then to Cua Viet (the river-mouth sea port).
The freighters stood off shore (top left in pic below) and transferred freight to landing barges which entered the river mouth and unloaded on concrete ramps on the river banks - which have now become the docks for the local fishing fleet...

 ...and on to the tunnels at Vinh Moc, where a whole village went underground for the war years.

 
 

We then visited several key locations of the long DMZ campaign including 'Freedom Bridge', Gio Linh, Cam Lo Bridge, Con Thien (Hill of Angels), Camp Carroll, Rockpile,  and on to Khe Sanh.

Jill and Ian lead the way across the "Freedom Bridge" -           Lindy and Russell were pleased to get to
  the South half of the bridge is painted yellow,                        the old French bunker at Con Thien after
               the North half is blue.                                     half an hour uphill in long grass & tangled vines.


The monument marking                                      A photostop at "Rockpile"...                       
the entrance to Camp Carroll.                                    which is exactly what it is!                           

That night, we stayed in a hotel in Lao Bao - on the border with Laos.  First thing in the morning, after viewing the border crossing point, we then visited the Lang Vei monument (a Russian-made amphibious tank first used by the North in the South in the NVA victory over the Lang Vei Special Forces Camp)...
 

We then returned to Khe Sanh and the old airfield base - scene of the 77-day siege in 1968.


After Khe Sanh, we then crossed the Da Krong Bridge and drove up the Da Krong valley, past Tiger Mountain and down the A Shau Valley - both valleys were scenes of major US and ARVN operations during the War.

At A Luoi, we tried for a view of "Hamburger Hill" - scene of a major US action that, with the 1968 Tet Offensive and Khe Sanh, triggered the change of US policy that ultimately ended the War. Weather conditions in the valley rarely permit a good view of this mountain massif... (see the 2011 Tour Report for a view).

On return from the A Shau valley, we overnighted in Hue and next day bussed south to Phu Bai, Hue's airport and a huge base and Intelligence collecting facility during the war.  A short flight to Hanoi gave us enough time to explore the Old Quarter, where we stayed.

The next day we toured some of the city's sites including the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Army Museum (which displays the tank that breached the Saigon Palace Gates in 1975), the 'Hanoi Hilton' and lots more.




Thought we'd better show you
the "real"  Hanoi Hilton...


Leaving the POW inmate mannequins in the "Hilton", we then went to the US Marines "POW/MIA" Mission and had a briefing on the current status of their MIA recovery program.  The briefing was most professional and comprehensive - appreciated by the whole group - and a group photo was taken on the steps of the Mission offices:

There was free time in Hanoi to take in a drink or two at one of the leading hotels in Hanoi - the Sofitel Metropole...

...before we flew, next day, to Dien Bien Phu for a day and a night, staying at the new Muong Thanh Hotel.
 

That afternoon we drove into the hills to see General Giap's bunker complex, from which he commanded the DBP battle.



On the way back, we passed two wonderful monuments... The first was to all who worked in the DBP campaign - from planning to surveying to road construction to supply to fighting - not to forget the command elements.  The second was dedicated to the artillery crews - set on a hillside to remind the viewers of the task the Viet Minh had to get the guns into their positions in the hills.  That's the monument at top left of the panoramic view of the valley.....

Next morning we visited the Viet Minh cemetery, Hill A1 (Part of "Elaine" defences), the French memorial and General De Castre's bunker...




 Finally, we visited the new DBP War Museum, shaped in the manner of the old Viet Minh helmet:


And what must be the oldest still-functioning Bailey Bridge in the world...
 

At the end of another hectic week plus, we flew back to Hanoi and drove directly to Ha Long Bay for a spot of R&R.

The World Heritage site features sheer limestone cliffs plunging into calm green waters.  A relaxing day on a boat wrapped up what had been for all on the Tour an energetic, yet informative 9 days:

 

 

From Ha Long to Hanoi and flights home.  All of the hotels were either 4/5 star or the best available in the more remote areas.  Most meals and all gratuities had been included, so hands only went into pockets for personal purchases or personal tipping and drinks.

Along the way, documentaries, presentations and discussions covered most of the significant events or places to be visited or seen.  The Tour included some "surprises" not listed in the itinerary - but each of which were very much appreciated by the Tour. members.

And we met some great people along the way...

The Tour was well accepted by those on it.  A selection of passenger comments follow - more may be added as they are collated:

*

Hi Dave and Di,
You just have to look at our group photo
to see that ours was a very special group of people! 
Thanks for sending the photos on to all of us
so fast with all the names,
( great for me as I am not so good at remembering!! )
(We) had a wonderful time,
a memorable trip for us both, thank-you again...
 We have some special photos, and memories,
which we can share with family and friends.
  All the best for the remainder of the Tour, and safe traveling.

 Requested Anonymous

*

Hi Dave and Di, 
Another wonderful, informative, and worthwhile Tour/ Trek.
My third time with you, and the first for my son Luke,
who asked me if I could take him.
Of course I couldn't say no, could I...?
 So here I was in Vietnam again, seeing my old friend Mr Ha,
Wombat, and Miss Tina, ( the tour guide with the sweetest smile )
 This would indeed be the most personal tour I have ever experienced,
and it was interesting to hear my fellow 'Trekkers'
say much the same thing,
one couple saying that it was the best part of their trip away;
they joined this tour on the way home after a trip to Europe.

 Luke especially enjoyed himself, interacting with everyone,
and seeing all the places I had been
talking ( or 'shouting' about ) all these years !!

He loved chatting to you Dave,
and he got into the ear of just about everyone,
learning and gaining as much information about what they did in life.
 Never a dull moment with Luke around, and
he loved the children at the Kindergarten on Nui Dat,
finding it fascinating that I left Vietnam from that same spot
after my war was over in Sept 1969.

 Thank you Dave for sharing your very personal experience
of The Battle of Long Tan with us,
it is not something that is often done ... these days.

 We are also, all of us, very fortunate to be able to experience this
with the very valuable assistance of Mr Ha, and his contacts,
and his Tour Company OSC Viet Nam Travel.

 Also, thank-you Tina, love your cute smile,
and of course Mr Wombat, who kept us all rounded up,
and safe from getting wet on his ' Wombat bridge' -
you are both\ legends!!

 Thank you too, to Judi, National Network Travel Melbourne Australia,
AND of course Di for her 'mothering' of us all,
we who may have needed mothering,
which is most of us OLD buggers!

 Thanks again Dave and Di,
 Mike and Luke R.

A wonderful experience.


*

Thank you again for all your dedicated work.
It was wonderful to be part of the 2014 trek.
Now I just have to write the play!
Best,

Verity L

*
 

Thank you Dave and Di...
... for the most interesting trip I have ever done in my life.
Thank you Dave for sharing your incredible experiences,
and for bringing the Battle of Long Tan to life for me.
I felt extremely privileged to be walking
the hallowed ground of Long Tan with you.
Since returning to Singapore I have been telling everyone
that they should sign up for your 2015 trek.
Take care, and thank you again.

Simon T

*
 

Dave,
Thanks again to you and Di for such a fantastic time in Viet Nam.
I learnt more about the wars there than I have in the last 45 years!
Matthew S.

*
 

Di and Dave,
Thank you again for a great adventure.
Will get back to you soon.

Anon

*
 

Hi Dave and Di.
Thank you once again for presenting a brilliant tour.
I thought it would be impossible for you to improve on the tour
which I enjoyed in 2013 when we visited Long Tan
and the battlefields in South Vietnam.  I was wrong.
The tour of the north you arranged for us was
absolutely perfect! 

Your selection of hotels was excellent.
The transport provided was first class.
From the air-conditioned coaches to the very air-conditioned cyclos.
The various internal flights you arranged were hassle free.
We were simply handed our boarding passes at the terminal
and climbed on the aircraft.  There was never any waiting around
for things to happen.  All your timings were spot on.

Dave's battlefield briefings on the evenings prior to visiting the various sites
were, as usual, very professional and prepared us for the
"on the ground" experience we were to encounter the following day.

The free day in Hanoi was very welcome.
Not being as young as we were, it allowed us to recover
from the many steps to temples, caves, tunnels,
mountains and trenches which we had enjoyed during the tour.
We were free to shop, explore, eat, dodge motor bikes
and drink to our hearts content.
What I found amusing was, even though we broke into small groups
and went our separate ways, we managed, in a city as crowded as Hanoi
to somehow run into each other and finished the day
riding back to the hotel as a complete group.

The final two days of R&R at Halong Bay was a delight.
All the hard work was done.
We had a chance to relax and enjoy the scenery
that this magnificent part of Vietnam has to offer.

I have often remarked how quickly people bond and make friends
with total strangers when they share a common experience.
This tour was no different.  As a group, we worked together,
we ate and drank together, we laughed together
and when we finally said, "Goodbye", it was to friends.

Thank you, Dave and Di and Judi.
Jim F

*

I just want to say thanks once again to both of you
for all your hard work in making the tours
so interesting, informative and enjoyable.
I now know much more about the Vietnam wars than I ever expected to know,
and also I canít believe how smoothly everything ran.
I have done enough travel in my time to know that
all sorts of things can go not quite according to plan,
but travelling with you was practically seamless.
Anyone who had a complaint is pretty hard to please in my opinion Ė
and thatís from someone who did not really want to be
part of the trip in the first place.
So thank-you.
Jillian M

*

Greetings Dave and Di,
Another thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening tour itinerary.
SVN 2011 was great and the appetite to do
the NVN Decisive Battlefields Tour was born.

Thank you to Dave, Di and our local Guides
for their untiring efforts and "Well Done" fellow participants.

Just terrific to see some square - gaiting again,
and I have to admit the 8 RAR guys won the day,
( two red heads ) and old Ned Kelly aged 4 years on Tour.

My thanks also to Judi for all her assistance pre tour.
Cheers
Michael H (3 RAR 66/7)

*
 

Thank you Di for the great read in the fab notes that you made.
I know that Rosemary will also read them with great interest.
I also know that Rosemary was quite skeptical of coming
on the Viet Tour in the first place, as it really was "my thing",
but after it was over she felt that it was such a wonderful
indeed privileged experience, and was in complete contrast
to our 9 preceding weeks in Europe.

I can't get out of my head all the beaut things we did,
and what a great team of fellow travellers!
Wish we could get together easily somewhere
for a dinner or reunion - but Australia is just so big isn't it!

I have had a lovely email from Michael R,
and hope to catch up on a few others by email as well.
And also whilst on "hope" - is to go again with you next year,
the northern tour if not the full tour.
Am also trying to talk Michael into it again as well.
Warren & Rosemary R

*

My wife and I joined both the 2014 Long Tan Trek
and the 2014 Decisive Battlefields tour
and had a fantastic time.
Jill was not keen to go initially but enjoyed the trip
and (in the words of her Christmas letter)
she "now knows more about the Vietnam Wars than she ever expected to know".
She also learned that the Viet Minh were defeating the French
at Dien Bien Phu at the time of her birth!

The tours cover all the key points of the Australian involvement
and give a very good insight to the major American and French involvements.

RSM Di does a wonderful job with the organisation
and Dave provides excellent content throughout.
We thank both of them for a great experience
and we recommend the tours enthusiastically to
all those interested in knowing more about the Indo-China Wars
and especially about the Battle of Long Tan.
We also recommend doing both tours together
in order to get a more complete picture.

Thanks again for a great trip Dave & Di -
 we loved it!!  I have already promoted the tours
with one of my colleagues who is very interested.
Cheers
Bill M

*

The ANNUAL Tours - the Long Tan Trek and the Decisive Battlefields Tour - have been planned with very much the same content and sequence as these 2014 Tours.  In the south, we've added an extra night in Vung Tau giving a free day to revisit old haunts, and retained the Cu Chi visit.  And in the north, we includes a two-night stay at Hoi An and two nights in Ha Long Bay - BOTH World Heritage listed locations.
Please visit the Tours webpage: Next Trek Tour is 2017:
VN Long Tan Trek Tour 2017.html
to download a Flyer and/or an Itinerary.
 

(...keep going - there's more below...)

x

 **********************************************************************

***   The Group Photo taken at the Saigon Opera House, Oct, 2012...   ***

 

**********************************************************************

***   The Group Photo taken at the Reunification Palace, Saigon, Oct, 2012...   ***



**********************************************************************

***   The Group Photo taken at the Long Tan Cross, Oct, 2012...   ***

 

**********************************************************************

***   The Group Photo taken at the War Museum, Hanoi, Oct, 2012...   ***

 

**********************************************************************

***   The Group Photo taken at The Marines JPAC Det 2 Office, Hanoi, Oct, 2012...   ***

 

**********************************************************************

***   The Group Photo taken at General Giap's HQ, Dien Bien Phu , Oct, 2012...   ***

(who has a photo of the group at Giap's HQ?)

**********************************************************************

----- =====THE OUT-TAKES ===== -----

 

"How much for a ride back to the hotel?"
"WHAT?  Two dollars???  I'll walk!"

 

Is texting on a motorcycle
in Saigon traffic
a recognised form of suicide...?

 

 

 

Wombat tells Verity and Bill about
the fish that got away,
which was pretty impressive...

...until Luke told them of HIS
one that got away...!
 

 

 

 

Mr Nguyen was hoping that no cars
would backfire while he had his shave...

 

 

 

 

Di was sprung at the Medallion
when they had a special on
chocolate covered pancakes...
...with banana...!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One day I'm gonna grow up...
...to be a bridge...!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Streetside pedicure and manicure

 

 

 

 

Teddy Bear's wedding...

 

 

 

 

The Saigon Police Department decide
to adopt a 2-Up formation...

 

 

 

Paul M proves that life imitates art...

 

 

 

 

Jim - that's the pot
calling the kettle "black"
isn't it...?

 

 

 

Desperate Dave steals a kiss
from the only girl in town
who can't run away...

 

 

 

 

 

Not quite sure what Luke and Wombat
had in mind for the hydrant
but if either of them lifted a leg,
we were out of there...

 

 

 

The brochure for the
secluded "Waterside Weekender"
got the "split level" right
but didn't mention
the natural air conditioning...

 

 

 

 

 

...and the other brochure
about the secluded "Country Retreat"
didn't suggest it was THAT secluded...

 

 

 

 

 

Michael H makes a personal fitting
a condition of the sale...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Like "Wombat", Tina adopted
the name "Koala"
so Dave photo-shopped
a photo for her...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOST of the meals were
"set menu"...
but NOT ALL of the meals were
quite as classy as the others...

 




 




  

  

  

  

  

 


 

Got a pic and a caption?  There's room for more - your photo next..?

 

 

 

 

 


----- =====DI's FAVOURITE PIX ===== -----

 

Di's favourite shots:

 
   

  
 
 
 
 
 

next..?