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Vietnam Vet souvenir export issue from Cu Chi Tunnels in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City


Michael Gambill
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All, 

Took my 83 year old Disabled Vet father to Cu Chi.   He managed to get through that excursion and made a purchase of a small sculpture of a F18 made from empty shell casings and an empty 50MM shell as well.    Both still had their price stickers on them and were from the actual shop at the site.    We returned to Diamond Princess and Security saw these on the scanner and held them.   We were told they would be reviewed by the Security Manager but there shouldn't be an issue as they were not really bullets.   We were told to expect a call later that evening with further instructions.   No calls came so I had to make a series of calls to staff onboard to see how to get them back for my Dad.    Finally, after meeting the Guest Services Supervisor face to face I was told to get them at disembarkation.    She then called me about 10 minutes later to apologize that she had misspoken and the situation was not at all what she informed me.    The Vietnamese Government officials onboard had disallowed the exportation and had taken the souvenirs off the ship the before we cast off for Singapore.    First, Princess needs to clean up their chain of command communications but more importantly....DO NOT PURCHASE these items or similar items as you will likely NOT BE ABLE TO GET THEM HOME.

 

Here are pics of the 2 items that were confiscated without any warning or acknowledgement.    Northing I can do about it...except to warn others ...especially Vets.   All this came after a touching moment at the tunnels.    It was a very strenuous day for my Dad but he did it and was so happy he made the trip all the way from California as he is losing his eye sight.    On our way out, a Vietnamese family with a small child was walking into the complex.   The father stopped his little boy and pointed to my father (who was wearing a USN ball cap and USN logo shirt) and told his boy that my father is their "ally" and that "he should be respected".    Sadly the Vietnamese Government didn't share that respect for my father.     Dad didn't hear this exchange occur but when we told him, it brought tears to his eyes.    At least I hope that gives him some solace even though his souvenirs won't be along for the ride home.

 

 

Dad's souvenir.jpg

Edited by Michael Gambill
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  • 5 weeks later...

Interesting story.  Hard to fathom why the Vietnam government would allow a tourist shop to sell the item and then not allow it to leave the country after the tourist has purchased it.  I would have expected U.S. Customs to raise their eyebrows as it looks like ammunition being imported.  What I would hope Princess would do is notify future cruisers in Vietnam that items like this may be confiscated by the Vietnam authorities so they refrain from buying them.  I assume they were made from actual shell casings and they may still have the primer attached.

Ray

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 1/13/2024 at 11:51 AM, USN59-79 said:

Interesting story.  Hard to fathom why the Vietnam government would allow a tourist shop to sell the item and then not allow it to leave the country after the tourist has purchased it.  I would have expected U.S. Customs to raise their eyebrows as it looks like ammunition being imported.  What I would hope Princess would do is notify future cruisers in Vietnam that items like this may be confiscated by the Vietnam authorities so they refrain from buying them.  I assume they were made from actual shell casings and they may still have the primer attached.

Ray

Its possible that the issue wasn't the Vietnamese officials but rather they of the cruise line being aware that the Singaporean Government (the next port of call) will not allow any firearms or ammunition real, imitation or re-manufactured to be imported. When I was posted there it was an issue that the Singaporean officials took very seriously and something that would get raised with us on a regular basis. 

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