This is the page where I'll describe myself in more detail.
I might talk about how old I am, who I look like, and what I do for a living. (I'll try to be truthful!)
Yes, ... age never a worry for me, 45 years old, male, borned on 1957 in Saigon, at that time the Vietnamese war starts to escalade to a new phase that later put link to international conflict. Who I look like ? huh... huh... almost all the japanese guys at my work place, a computerized programming press printing corporation, say that I look like John Travolta, the fact that I deny the most, trying to look at my face every day to find out any ressemblance? but no way, I do not look like John Travolta.
1957, my country was at war, my father kept busy with his red hot smoked carbine M2 shooting back and forth from the South Cap of Vietnam to the Central Highlands. I attended a French Colony School in Saigon from elementary to junior and passed the baccalaureat test on 1975. The year that we lost the war, frustrations built up, I got start to learn "How to grow Orchid" with Mrs. Rebecca Tyson Northern, wait, wait, of course, not with her in person, by her book only. And thanks God, she lighted me up then I started to love orchid ...
But why do I love orchid ? It was because of my father.
The day we lost the war, my father had to go to the concentration camp, liked ironie promotion, I stepped his place to lead our company in tricky dark water, with all Southerners in chaos, starvation and poverty. It was the reason that why I had to learn how to grow orchid, my survival kit.
For my father it was different, for him the VN war is finished earlier in1965, the year that he resigned from the South Vietnam Infantry Army, to pay loyalty and respect to President Duong Van Minh, his best friend on earth, who was ousted by Nguyen Khanh's coup d'état and exiled out of Vietnam.
I remembered when I was 5 years old, each time my father came home he took back with him some bushes of wild orchids to our backyard with a loving care. But only 1 or 2 days he had to go back to the front line. My mother everyday prayed for his safety mixed with tears in her prayers, my 2 brothers and I couldn't help to restrain,we all joined her in choir. When will be the next time he come home? We didn't know, week? month? year? Just wondered in despair.
The war raged hard, my father had to fight in different fronts, deep in the jungle, or up on the highlands. Everyday he faced death or alive, trick or threat, casualties of friends and enemies piled up. Who will be next for a one way ticket to haven? he didn't dare to answer. In these dark hours he saw the blossoming of wild orchids so beautiful that he relied to his wife, our mother, as for a relaxation from panic and frustration, as a salvation from God to apaise his soul from foolish of self undermining tendency where he could be in denial, where he could get stuck. And one day he found that he loved orchid ... orchid was the world where his queen reigned during the darkness time of war ... a healing, an esperance, a gift from God ... that hold deep into his inner self openned his ability to share all the truth, beauty and sacreness laid out around him in the form of life .
I might describe my job in a little more detail here. I'll write about what I do, what I like best about it, and even some of the frustrations. (A job with frustrations? Hard to believe, huh?)
The naissance of Saigon Orchids
Here I continue my tale about our root, how Saigon Orchids & Flora was built, immerged and submerged with Vietnam historic tides, somewhat like Margaret Mitchel with Georgia before and after the Recession War , ...
Yes indeed, no one has ever close to nature than a soldier with his tremendous challenge night and day between God and Satan, soldier or killer that one's cannot say to himself that he can say Hello to God in heaven if get killed. Then, Nature is an ideal refuge when you get caught in the Right and Wrong battle deep inside your subconsience, to lift you above the daily conflicts of ordinary wonders of the meaning of life. Relaxation is a must for Frustration trap. Nature is the final port for everyone of us, wanted or not.
Luckily, my father was an elite on topographie in the military school, he took notes of all his seeing about wild Vietnamese orchid sites displayed geographically on many different regions, saying, one day when the war is finished, he will go here and there to collect these beauties.
1965 the year of his retreat, the war was not finished instead it entered in a more critical level, that leaded to the succumb of the South on April 30, 1975. During this 10 years time lap, he concentrated on study about orchid with his best friend Ex-President Duong Van Minh - The one who earned a nickname as Orchid-General from the Vietnam media press - . By this time, there was no orchid media in Vietnam, with the exception of some scarce hobbyists that you can count like fingers on your hand. People was too busy with the war then. Investing for an orchid business is liked madness in compare with a social situation in chaos like that. But, referred to his equation that he had experienced at war, "frustrated people needs relaxation", braving all challenges, specially from my mother, he made his opportunity, brought his hobby (or madness?) to a profession. If he fails, he will be called: crazy man, if he win then people will call him a conquistador. Even his friend Sir Duong Van Minh told him to slow down. In fact, nobody supported his project, he was on his own.
1971, Mr Tran Kim Khu founded Saigon Orchids, in Thu Duc. (A neighbourhood at the North of Saigon) He imported hybrids from Europe, USA and Southeast Asia to fill up 2 hectares land with orchids, and received great admiration from nearly all contemporain Vietnam's VIP. People lined up to wait for the new orchids coming from the world, the phone bell rang endlessly, he had to work 24 by 24, my 2 brothers and I helped him on Saturdays and Sundays, just only for label hand writing, visitors guide, goods wrapped, cut-flower service, hurry to buy instant lunch for lot of visitors training all day long in the nursery just talking about orchid in a strange language embeded with latino vocabulary that my 2 brothers and I stared at them with big eyes wide openned, because we didn't understood what they were discussing about, and wondered why do people are so crazy by orchids like that? Some guests stayed very, very, and very late in our nursery, up until midnight. In fact, my father got the cible, his business prospered, he had made a place in the world now and then. Far behind him, Ex-President Duong Van Minh smiled with satisfaction.
Some years later, followed his step Mr Clyde Bauer, General Director of American NorthWest Airline in Vietnam, on 1973, established an orchid nursery named "Orchid Haven" at Duy Tan street, District 1st, Saigon (with most of his plants came from Stewart's Orchid)). And Mr Bui Nang Huan, at 1974, founded "King's Orchids" at Saigon Highway Bridge (with most of his plants came from Jones & Scully).
My father added a new page of orchid industry into Vietnam's economic and botanic history, since then. His choices, beliefs and responses to life's challenges worked out well. His center fitted in with this rich and wonderfull world.
He is the Conquistador of our green world.
Challenges and Opportunities
April 30, 1975. An unforgettable day for all Vietnameses, winner or loser! Let beside the politic matter, that's a never ending story of Right and Wrong and will change with time, we donot have a specific conclusion for such an unstable thing like this. Here, we see the world under an orchid sight, with peace overcomes from the green world.
Some months later, my father went to the concentration camp. I stepped his place and sailed SOF straight in the Styx river, facing a no where about port, at the age of 18. No more hobbyists nor orchid lovers, people struggled for everyday meals. The flood from the Mekong River cut out rice paddies of the South, it was a black out, people were starving. My 2 brothers and I grew rice and vegetable, and my mother sold it to a local market. It was a hard time for us, but through that we felt more close to the nature and little by little loved it, even though it hurt. And all the scarcely benefit was invested to the nursery, ironie and non sense, wasn't it ? Beside of how to grow vegetable and rice, I have to learn also how to grow orchid, at this time I didn't understand a little bit about orchid.
Remember my father talks (he always has a lot of), he said: "The one who can grow orchid, is the one who can grow seedling". Then I started at: how to care for seedlings from Mrs Rebecca Tyson Northern's book. Thank you very much Ms Northern! You had openned up my mind to the orchid world.
With over 2 hectares of orchids, watering, fertilization, and insecticide was a tremendous task from money to intensive hard labor. All was done by hand, without one penny as revenue from the nursery, friends laughed at us, we were like crazy guys under their eyes, what's for? Ironically, that was also my question. I just obeyed my father's order: "Keep up the nursery at any cost, that's an order!" like a soldier must carry out his assignment, without question, "Aye Aye, Sir! Yes, Sir!" was my reply. The dictatorialness of my father in our family just like (identically) Captain Von Trapp with his 7 daughters (if you still remember this nice film of Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer in "The Sound of Music"). Up to day at 45 years old, we -my 2 brothers and I- are still said "Aye Aye, Sir!, Yes Sir!" when address at him, formally or informally. We always look at him as a lovely father and a very strict superior. We like the way he is. We, are soldiers! We fight for a better world.
For water we pull it from a wells, for fertilizer we bought organic bovine manure, but insecticide was a luxe, we couldnot afford, thanks to all the frogs they helped us got rid of devastating bugs feeding on blooming plant over night, frogs are our friend, nice and cute, I like them since then.
Of course, with a schedule liked that our plants didn't grown healthy so poor flowering resulted, they were just "vivoter" and "vegeter" but they didn't die, that was all we wanted! Look at us, we, also... we were starving bađly... for meal we had to mix rice with manioc or sweet-potato, for soup we had to boil plain water with sweet-potato leaves, meat was a luxe, no question!
... // ...
Our perseverance and hard labor endurance lasted for over 5 years, one by one orchid-lovers returned, mostly were northerner combattants, the essence of native orchids from the jungle had conquerered their soul (just like my father was). Saigon Orchids (& Flora) was reborned and one more time again leads the way of the orchid trend in Vietnam.