Return to Quan Loi - 1995
Photos and story by Marc Levy     D 1/7 Cav '69-'70
Marc Levy Quan Loi 1995
I returned in '95.  Backpacked six months across Southeast Asia. 
At the time I seem to have been the first person to visit An Loc/Quan Loi in nine months.  Civilian bus from Saigon's Long Distance Bus Station cost sixty cents and took ninety minutes.  I stayed a week at  the delightful fire trap Binh Long Hotel;  $2.50 a night.  Got to know the manager (Ba) and one day used his cousin's son's bicycle to ride to the rubber.  Later I accidentally happened upon the town hospital, still bombed out from the Easter Tide Offensive of '72.  At one point I visited the police station after the cops came to my room.  Apparently the hotel clerk forgot to forward them a copy of my passport.  The interrogation took a few  hours.  Next, a bus to Loc Ninh (24 cents).  Only lasted a day.  Cops threw me out.  In '95 they were going by the book and I was on my own.  Caught a ride back to Saigon though not before trying hard, very hard for three days to find
LZ Compton at An Loc.
In 1995 Chinese bicycles rented for fifty cents a day. The brakes, tires, handle bars, seats,
chains, etc tended to fall, slip, go flat or otherwise kerplunk on a regular basis; about every fifty meters on main roads a man with an M-60 ammo box filled
with tools and a sign touting PATCH TIRE would be most happy to repair the damage. In Saigon, usually in the evenings I'd take a bike and ride for close to two hours. I followed the main road and if I turned I tried to remember landmarks. It was not uncommon to see families of three, four or five people (adults and kids) piled on a bike. Single women riders wore long black gloves and masks across their mouths. I was the only gringo riding the roads after dark. The people were friendly and most were very curious. Who was this guy? In day time I wondered what were all those dogs doing in cages on a bridge that led out of town. Well those puppies were truly lunch meat.

Below right is a favorite flick from my travels around Quan Loi. It was taken at Lake Xosim. My guide, Nguyen, met me when I got off the bus in An Loc, and took me there after the torrid slog to Quan Loi (on his Honda Cub). The surrounding village is quite beautiful. It seemed untouched by war. Nyugen told me that people no longer swam in the lake since it was haunted by the spirits of those who drowned in it after getting drunk. My guess is that if Quan Loi is on the tourist trail, Lake Xosim is too. There's an old French fort made of stone off to the side of the lake on the right.  Half buried, it rose up out of triple canopy jungle.  Kids were there playing badminton when I found it.

Looking to find Lake Xosim in a web search?  It's likely I've misspelled it and it's possible the name changed after the war. On the ride back to Saigon after failing to find LZ Compton I showed a map to a Chinese woman and asked her how come every time I asked for directions to Song Be I always wound up in Tu Dao Mot. She said place names changed after the war. I recently did a net search. Came up dry. Only thing I found was the phone number of the Binh Long Hotel, in An Loc where I stayed when visiting Quan Loi, An Loc, and the lake. I have sent a query to a VN travel agency.  We'll see what they say.

Marc Levy        Then  and  Now           
D 1/7 Cav '69-'70
Also Read Marc Levy's 1995 Travel Journal Entries with Photos - Quan Loi to Cambodia  - Song Be to Breakdown  -  A Grunts Life Around Quan Loi - With Jim Lamb at LZ Compton - Bunker Complex Song Be Patrol


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