Mytho, After 11 Years

By Liem Tran

I recently traveled back to Mytho, Vietnam, where I was born and grew up until 1985. I was shocked with all the changes in Saigon and Mytho. I was born in Mytho in 1968 during the Tet Offensive - I am sure most of the Vets remember the event. There are new buildings all over the city. The Nam Ky Khoi Nghia (which used to be Ong Ba Nguyen Trung Long Street) ends at the Ferry port on the other side of Bentre; the Hung Vuong Boulevard and Trung Trac Street!! Businesses are open on both sides of the streets, mostly restaurants, cafes, and stores.

The unemployment rate is high, but is much better than when I was there. Everybody seems to have some kind of work to do and generates enough income for daily food. There are more food and supplies available, as long as you have the money. The city is very polluted because motorcycles are all over the streets.

If you're ever in Mytho, please visit the Custom Tailor Shop DAO LONG on the Le Thi Hong Gam Street, near the ferry port. This shop is owned by my friend named Long. He is a very artistic and talented person. He will custom design a shirt, hand painted, in any style you like. A shirt can be made for about $10 US and it is well worth it. Just mention my name, Liem Tran from Boston, and Long will know.

There are two new restaurants that are located outside of Mytho that have very good and inexpensive food: Bach Tung Vien and Ngoc Gia Trang. Anyone in the city will agree with me. These places are very comfortable with pleasant atmosphere and good service. Try the fresh shrimp dipped in boiling coconut juice. It is delicious!

It seems like people are doing O.K. economically. Still, the government is controlling most industry, especially telecommunications. I was frustrated with the post office/operator when I tried to call back to the U.S. The operator insisted that I should pay a high rate to make a call because I am a Viet Kieu. [Ex-Patriot Vietnamese Citizen].

So I asked: "Is it a law?" Operator: "No, but you look like a Viet Kieu." I said: "But I am still Vietnamese, aren't I?" Operator: "Yes, still you look different." I said: "Then I guess you don't want to do any business with me."

Then I left the post office fully frustrated. Every where I went I had to deal with this kind of very annoying frustration. Another interesting experience that I would like to share with any tourist: Be prepared to be asked for money at the airport. I was asked for $10 US before they would stamp my passport.

I wish the Vietnamese government would change some of these behaviors, because as long as they persist, I will refrain from going back. I love my country very much, but also hate to go through these hassles. However, I am looking for an opportunity to work in Vietnam. If anyone knows of a contact, please email me at My background is Chemistry and Business, and I have been working as a curriculum developer for many environmental education programs, training people for jobs in this new industry, developing contacts with local employers. I am a very business-oriented person with a technical background.

Liem Tran

copyright © 1996 by Liem Tran, all rights reserved