- Kim & Vinh Nguyen -
» Left Vietnam to study TESOL as adults at University of Canberra 1987
» Moved from Canberra to Sydney 1988
» Revisited Vietnam late 1990s, 2004
"During the summer holiday, I got my push bike and I rode around the country, because I've got family in different places..."Vinh: We're teachers, so we had nearly three months holiday every year, so we were quite lucky. During the summer holiday, I got my push bike and I rode around the country, because I've got family in different places, so I have accommodation, shelter and food there. I'd just stay there for a few days and learn about the area and then the next year I went to another city.
Kim: I've got different memories, because I worked as teacher at Ha Noi University for foreign study so I had a lot of opportunities working as an interpreter for different people who came to Vietnam at that time. I travelled a lot to the north and to the south as well to many beautiful places and one of the most beautiful places in the north is Ha Long Bay.
"I went back there a few years after the victory and the whole valley was full of mines..."Vinh: I spent a few years living and learning in Dien Bien Phu, the last protectorate of the French colonists. I went back there a few years after the victory and the whole valley was full of mines, some people were killed and some buffalo killed as they tried to cross, off the track and stepped on a mine. I spent a few years learning there. It's quite a good memory [for me].Very high up in the mountains.
Vinh: I liked the mountains, because there was fresh air and a beautiful stream running through the valley, the water is so clear you can see the gravel in the river bed, and we have a camp and bonfires next the river. We crossed the river from time to time did some activities there.
Vinh: Like all other kids, we studied at school and were also involved in all sorts of activities at school, like camping, going out, working at some volunteer work, like growing plants, and helping farmers to harvest and building dykes along the rivers.
"As kids we went fishing in the small pond, and then caught some small, tiny fish just for fun..."Kim: As kids we went fishing in the small pond, and then caught some small, tiny fish just for fun, but it's not like a going fishing in Australia: it is so different. In Vietnam, when we were there, it was not kind of sport at all, or leisure.
The [literature] was always talking about the beautiful nature, and they described the river as sort of happiness and wealth. It brought us all the soil and it waters all the fields and gives us good crops.
Vinh: The [river] also gives fish and food. Children spend time in the river, swimming, jumping up and down, dive-bombing there. Like in the countryside, on a moonlit night you see the river drift, slowly and quietly and gently down there and some lonesome country lad's singing along the river, some folk song, it's beautiful, you know? And it's all coming to you, like a part of your soul.
"Well, I don't want to blame anyone but actually the bombing, the Agent Orange killed and destroyed a lot of forests of Vietnam and land..."Kim: Well, I don't want to blame anyone but actually the bombing, the Agent Orange killed and destroyed a lot of forests of Vietnam and land and is still effecting the environment now... It has effected generation after generation so we don't know when the Vietnamese people can overcome. That's terrible! It stays in the land and the soil and people that live there, breathe and eat and grow food. So many people suffer from cancers and die and for no reason, we can't find out why. And my uncle is dying because of the cancer, he actually took part in the army, in the front battle and we can't say that he was affected by that Agent Orange or not, but in his body there is still some piece of bullet there.
» Kim & Vinh Nguyen's journey