Journey to America – Mai Hương Experience

Set Sail to America

The ship left Saigon in the evening of April 29, 1975, to Phú Quốc. In the morning of April 30, 1975, the news of the fall of Saigon was announced on the intercom. The Fall of Saigon, Vietnam in April, 1975
The ocean was peaceful and the sky was clear. It was a breath taking sight. Mai Hương was not seasick one bit. She saw dolphins swimming and dancing along next to the ship. She even remembered being a tool for sailors to flirt with our aunt Ca.

Mai Hương was fed rice and salt while on board. That was a luxury because no one brought along a rice cooker or pots and pans. They had the rice grain but didn’t have anything to cook it with. Luckily, my aunt Ðuốc came prepared. She was the only person who brought along a small rice cooker. My grandparents’ family was the first family to have hot rice. That was yummy. My aunt Ðuốc was an entrepreneur. She lent the rice cooker to others for a fee. Not only did they have rice to eat but they made some extra money as well.

After drifting off to sea for three days, they met up with other American Navy ships and a cargo ship in the Philippines. The cargo ship was probably 10 times bigger than the ship that they were on. Four navy ships with over 1000 refugees came aboard the cargo ship. There was a big opening in the middle of the ship. The top part of the ship opened upward while the bottom lowered down. The lower part was using as a bridge for passengers to cross. Mai Hương could see straight through the inside of the ship. It was completely hollow. It was like a huge mouth waiting to swallow up the people into its empty tummy. When everyone was transferred over safely to the new ship, the mouth closed shut.

The American Navy ships left for different destinations while the cargo ship next destination was Guam. It took them a day to reach their destination. Mai Hương hung out with her cousins, Hoàng and Liểu. The three girls were a few years apart from each other with Mai Hương being in the middle. They made perfect playmates for one another. They played on the beach. When they were bored, they explored the mountains. They were often scolded by my aunts for wandering off too far.

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