Good Morning Vietnam! That's what the front of the T-shirt I'm so fond of wearing says.
Vietnam is one country I have read and learnt so much about for over 3 decades but had yet to visit until June this year. I have been invited by my Vietnamese friends whom I've looked after when they were here on official sporting business...various ASEAN and ASIAN Schools Championships and even the 1993 SEA Games.
[ The KIMDO Hotel ]
Unk Dicko was the chief Liaison Officer for the whole Vietnamese Contingent.
My good friends have urged me time and time again to "just come visit us and we will take you to places you cannot see on the normal tourist route".
Maybe that's one of the reasons why I never did take them up on their offers.
Then, I was still working and in the course of my 4 decade active career, I've looked after many VIPs and other key officials from many different countries.
Some of these key people I know quite well.
But not once have I taken up on any of their most friendly invitations to "come over and we'll take care of everything" visit. Almost all the ASEAN countries and some further afield are included.
It is just not right to do so and I can only speak for myself.
The reasons are obvious. I cannot allow myself to be beholden to any of them especially when I was still a serving officer in my own country.
Even if I should go, which I did to some of these countries ...I never, ever made contact with any of these overseas friends for any help or assistance or even social calls as my trips were all private and paid out from my own pocket.
This is as it should be. No contact while I was in their country. No mixing of business (official) and pleasure (friendship).
And most importantly it leads to a trouble-free career.
And a good, clear conscience.
And the ability to sleep well and peacefully every single day or night!
[ For nearly 25 years, Unk Dicko was most of the time appointed the Chief Liaison Officer for looking after VIPs at all ASEAN and ASIAN Schools C'ships, Games Meetings, Conferences and other events....sometimes quite a few within a year, all hosted by Singapore. ]
So on 11 June 2010 , under our own steam, D2 and I joined up with others from the our Kg Serangoon GROs and led by MP and Minister Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, we flew off to Saigon for a short visit.
The pictures are all from my simple digital camera...so top quality cannot be expected.
I will try to include as many photos as I can to show what we experienced and saw.
We stayed at the KIMDO Royal City Hotel at 133 Nguyen Hue Avenue, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It is billed as a top 4 star Hotel and I cannot disagree with that picture.
The room rates are on the high side.
The location is superb as it is right in the heart of the city.
The first group picture of Serangoon GROs, their spouse and
family with their leader.
Just outisde the Saigon airport foyer where our coach was waiting when
This was the sign outside the entrance.