Oh what a night, late December 1963
24 Dec. 63
Dear Uncle Ron and Aunt Helen,
It has been quite awhile since I have written you folks. I am not too much of one for writing, and when I do write, I keep putting it off, and putting it off; and the next thing you know, the weeks turn into months and then the months into years.
I haven’t sent any Christmas cards, so at this time I’ll offer my best wishes for the season to you.
It is Christmas Eve and I am working tonight. I will also work New Year’s eve and day. It really doesn’t seem like Christmas here, and there isn’t that much to do in the evening’s; So I’m just as well off working.
As I had mentioned, I had intended to send you some coins from Korea but I believe that I put them in with a package that I had sent to Mom and told her to give them to you. In any event, here are some in this box.
The Korean coin with the 10 on it is 10 Won, and worth about $.0769. The large copper coin is Japanese ( 10 Yen) and about 2.8¢ Wait! I was wrong on the Korean coins.They are 10 Hwan which is the old money. When they Changed to Won, they made 10 Hwan equal to 1 Won. (Sounds confusing and tongue-tying, doesn’t it?) So these 10 copper pieces with the 10 on them altogether are only worth 7¢/
The Viet Namese coins with the former president Diem picture on them are soon being taken out of circulation. ( Since he was overthrown and killed, they are going to replace the money also.) The small pieces marked 1 dong are 1 piastre; also called one Viet Namese dollar. 1 piastre is about .7¢. I also recall sending some coins home in my hold baggage. I’ll tell Mom to look for them and give them to you.
Now that I look back on it, the year I spent in Korea wasn’t bad. It was difficult at first having to work for an arrogant Jew boss, but after a few months I got out of his office and was on my own working directly for the army people ( U.S.) The country of Korea isn’t too bad. As you can see on the coins they were in the year 4294 last year. It is surprising for a civilization to be that far along in years and still live under very primitive conditions. Going from Korea to Japan is like going from the dark ages into the future science fiction world. Those people are really progressing in Japan. I spent several days in Japan after I left Korea. Then I went to Honolulu for almost a month. Then I went back to Japan for Leave for 3 weeks and then down here to Viet Nam in October. They were building like crazy in Japan to get ready for the Olympics. Working 4 hours a day, 7 days a week on construction. You could drive into Tokyo early in the evening and return late in the night and find the road you had gone in on was now completely torn away. And downtown Tokyo is vey nice. Lots of modern building and just about any modern gadget you can think of.
I really like their cooking also. Their Kobe Beef is excellent. In this beef, the cattle are pampered from the time they are born until they are slaughtered. They massage them, feed them beer, and let them live a lazy life. I would really like to work a year or two in Japan. The hot baths and big tubs are also great. Only it is almost impossible to stand the hot temperatures that they can. Westerners always have to add quite a lot of cold water before they can get in the tub.
The Viet Namese people are much dirtier than the Japanese or Koreans. They don’t have any hot baths here in Viet Nam. In fact, the majority of hotels ( built by the French) don’t even have hot water in them. The Korean houses don’t look like much from the outside, but inside they are spotlessly clean. The older Japanese buildings look nic efrom the outside and are also clean inside.
I am here in the town of Nha Trang. It is a small town on the coast of the China Sea. I like it here. My hotel is less than a hundred yards from the beach. We are now in the winter season also, but it just got a little cooler from having winds the past few weeks. This afternoon as we came to work there were all sorts of people in swimming.
Lobster is also plentiful here and I eat quite a bit of it. Most of the restaurant make a creamed corn soup with lots of chunks of crab meat in it. This is very good.
Being out here in Nha Trang, we missed the coup d’etat. Things were quiet here and the only way we knew what was happening was to listen to the radio and talk to our co-workers of our radio system in Saigon. When they lifted martial law and the curfew in Saigon, it took them several days later to follow suit here.
There seems to be a noticed improvement since the coup. The people in general seem much happier and there appears to be much more general activity going on.
Well, I guess that’s about it for now. I think I may have some Korean Won notes back in my room and I’ll check and enclose them if I can find them.
Say hello to Ira & family when you see them, and also to Aunt Marie if she is still there with you.
’Bye for now
PS The Viet Namese coins with 50 XU on them are ½ piastres.