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Finding Quan Loi

The adventure begins in early April, 2004 with arrival in Ho Chi Minh City (Old Saigon) and checking into the Omni Saigon Hotel (Photo 1). Part of the hotel used to be an officer's quarters near the airport. The trip out to the border area begins by winding through Ho Chi Minh City. The traffic is insane and motorbike is the preferred method of transportation for most of the 7 million city residents. Traffic signals are merely suggestions (Photos  2 & Photo  3).

We motor by the old Continental Hotel (Les Higa, this photo is for you) (Photo 4), an unfortunate restaurant named "Chicken Town" (Photo 5) - deserted because of the bird flu scare, and by the restored Opera House (Photo 6).

Finally, we make it out into the country where the roads are just as crappy as I reported last time. After 2 hours of real pounding, we near An Loc. Unfortunately our vehicle temperature gauge nears "H", and the radiator starts to boil. It's 98 degrees and we have to turn the AC off !! We stop in the middle of NOWHERE for radiator flushing (Photos 7 & Photo 8). I'm thinking that I really don't want to spend the night in this part of Vietnam again.

We get going again and make it into beautiful downtown An Loc (Photo 9). We begin asking everyone where the old  Quan Loi Airstrip might be. Finally, a local who had worked at the airfield pointed the way - it was 10 in the morning and he was really drunk (Photo 10). Perhaps we picked the wrong guys for our allies.

We climb a ridge line and wind through a rubber plantation (Photos 11 & Photo 12). Finally at the top of the ridge - all firebases were on hilltops, could be we learned from that Dien Bien Phu thing - we came up a LARGE CLEARING. Another BIG spot with crumbling asphalt and red dirt. Since I only spent about 2 days during my tour in Quan Loi, I didn't realize how big the airstrip had been. Guys, there is nothing left (Photos 13 & Photo 14).

Our long suffering engineer, Scott Bennett, who always accompanies me on these excursions shot some of these photos including the "red dirt panorama". We walked down numerous side roads trying to find the swimming pool or anything (Photo 15), but there is no evidence we were ever there except for the crumbling asphalt. I did, however, scare the daylights out of some kids riding bikes down one of the roads radiating off from the airstrip. I can imagine what they thought when this giant western white guy came walking out of the brush with a camera.

So, guys, I have visited Loc Ninh and Quan Loi and found virtually the same thing - nothing. I guess what this means to aging vets is that the real essence of these places was us. We spent our time honorably in these locations and have our old photos, memories and shared experience. Thanks to John, we have this site to trade those memories.

Scott Krueger  Then and Now (All Photos by Scott Krueger  & Scott Bennett except Quan Loi 1970 by Earl Miller)

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Photo 1

Photo 2

Omni Saigon Hotel

Ho Chi Minh City Traffic Mostly Motorbikes

Photo 3
Photo 4
Ho Chi Minh City Traffic is Crazy Continental Hotel Ho Chi Minh City
Photo 5 Photo 6
Closed "Chicken Town" Restored Opera House Ho Chi Minh City
Photo 7 Photo 8
What do Autos do when it's 98 degees? Scott Krueger - "Why did I come here?"
Photo 9 Photo 10
Downtown An Loc We Get Directions to Quan Loi
Photo 11 Photo 12
Rubber Plantation The Rubber Trees Are Still There
Photo 13 Photo 14
The Middle of Quan Loi Airstrip 2004 Quan Loi 2004
Photo 14 Quan Loi 1970
One of the Quan Loi Side Roads - No Pool Earl Miller's Quan Loi Aerial Photo 1970

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