The Ghost Month

There is something similar between the Lunar New Year period and the Ghost Month in the level of spread-out activities around the area where I lived in Vietnam.

If Lunar New Year is an occasion that makes the area alive with crowds of people gathering in front of each house where lion dances are performed and firecrackers were lit during this time span, then there are also crowds of children gathering in front of each house during the Ghost Month where offerings to the forsaken spirits are made. 

In front of houses and stores, the lion dances are performed to bring prosperity and good luck for the upcoming year while the loud noises of the firecrackers will scare away the evil spirits. Similarly, the offerings placed at the front of the houses and stores and later given away will help guard the household or commercial stores from hungry, wandering ghosts that can trouble or mess up with them or their businesses.

According to the Vietnamese belief, after a person died, their body decays but their soul still lingers in the afterlife. Those who died unjustly, without proper burials or without living relatives, their souls will roam the earth and they can haunt or harm the living.

Mum was a successful business woman before the fall of Saigon in 1975. She designed children’s wear, distributed materials for the workers to sew them then sell them in large quantities at Saigon’s main market – Bến Thành. These clothes would then be resold in other cities and rural areas in Vietnam. 

Every year, in a random afternoon of the Ghost Month, joining other businesses around our house which was next to An Đông market, Mum also made offerings to the forsaken, lonely souls. The month is the seventh month of the lunar calendar and that usually is at the end of August. 

Offerings included paper money, paper silver and paper gold for the dead

My job as the eldest was to guard the offerings during the ceremony from the homeless children who lived in the market. It wasn’t unusual that some ceremonies couldn’t even begin as all the offerings were already snatched by the children. With my arms akimbo, I gave the street children a fierce glare. It must be this ready-to-fight-back expression in my body and on my face that had the small crowd of children under control for the ceremony to last till the end. 

Children snatch offerings before the ceremony begins

Mum lit the two candles on the worship table then the incense. In a whispering voice, she prayed to Buddha and the piteous, lonesome spirits then burned the gold and silver paper money offerings for the dead to use in the next world. Around 15mn later, as soon as the incense burned out, Mum threw the salt, rice, coins and bank notes to the ground and gave all the savoury and sweet food as well as fruits on the worship table to the children circled around. It’s considered bad luck if the children of the house take the offerings after the ceremony as that would mean they have invited the spirits into the house. 

Children are given offerings after the ceremony
Children scramble to pick up thrown out coins and bank notes at the end of the ceremony
Burning paper money for the dead

On the full moon day of the Ghost Month, at noon, Mum also made offerings to our ancestors’ spirits. It usually is a bigger feast of food, fruits and paper money offerings than what was made to the homeless souls. One difference though would be the feast is placed on the altar and Mum would not throw out salt, rice, coins and bank notes on the ground once the ceremony is finished. Some wealthy people on this occasion even burn paper houses, paper cars, paper watches, paper mobile phones, … for their ancestors to use in the afterworld. 

Paper cars and dresses for the dead
Paper multi-storey houses for the dead
Paper cars and motorcycles for the dead
Paper helicopters for the dead
Paper buses for the dead


The period of Lunar New Year brings cool light wind and low temperature. The Ghost Month occurs during the rainy season in Saigon and cool breezes usually flow around during this time.

Lunar New Year welcomes a forward twelve-month time and it brings joy to the young people as they are given money in red envelopes by the old. In a similar analogy, but in the opposite direction, the Ghost Month is a reminiscent of the backward time when the dead were living and a remembrance event that brings contentment and respect to the dead old with the offerings by the living young.

The Lunar New Year,

Money gifted, the living young cheer.

The Ghost Month event,

Offerings made, the dead old and wandering souls content.

(Clerihew-style poem)

People smugglers: Europe criminal network vs Vietnamese Communist’s related information

The deaths of 39 people in a lorry trailer lead Thursday’s frontpages. Credit: Twitter/i/The Times

<<Story related to the information>>

The text messages victim Pham Thi Tra My (26 yo) sent her parents shortly before she froze to death.

The text messages Tra My sent her parents translated:

”I deeply apologise to you, Mum and Dad”

”The road to live overseas is not successful”

”Dear Mum”

”I love you very much, Mum and Dad”

” I die because I can’t breathe”

”Town Nghèn, district Can Lộc, province Hà Tĩnh”

”I love you very much Mum”

Below is the picture of the parents of one of the 39 lorry-death victim. It shows that the victims could come from wealthy high-ranking Vietnamese Communist official families.

Parents of victim Pham Thi Tra My (26yo).

Parents of victim Pham Thi Tra My (26yo) after news of her death in the refrigerated truck in Essex, England.

Facebook of victim Tra My shows she travelled a lot.

Facebook page of victim Tra My.

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People smugglers: Europe criminal network vs Vietnamese Communist

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UK: 39 dead bodies found inside a truck container in Essex – 23/10/2019

<<Facts, pictures and video clips related to this story – The horrible deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants in a refrigerated truck in Essex, England>>

For several days, I have been reading news about the death of 39 people smuggled into Britain on a refrigerated truck. It touched my heart as at this moment, 25 (and probably more) of those dead were identified as Vietnamese who came from the same impoverished coastal region of North Vietnam.

The victims had paid between £8,000 to £30,000 by their families to be smuggled and started their journey from Vietnam to China, then Germany or France and finally in Belgium to board the deadly refrigerated trailer.

“The victims were discovered naked, or with minimal clothing, and had been desperately ‘banging on the doors’ for help and had ‘foam coming from their mouths’.“

Dreams of a better life: Faces of the migrants who died in truck tragedy while trying to enter UK – as it emerges 25 of the 39 victims were from the same Vietnamese village. – Daily Mail – by Jemma Carr, Abul Taher and Holly Bancroft – Sunday 27 October 2019.

An ex-refugee who had experienced almost suffocated in the back of a shipping container during his journey to England expressed his insight into the people smugglers:

““They don’t see you as a human being. They see you as a commodity, as money, as an object, and this is it,” he said.

“Never, ever, trust them. I mean, I had to put my faith in them and I regretted it.””

Ex-refugee recalls his own terrifying experience of being smuggled in a truck after Essex lorry tragedy – by Associated Press – Sunday Oct 27 2019.

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The Rotten Apples poem

1975 Mr and Mrs Nguyễn Cao Kỳ – ex Vice President of South Vietnam – in a refugee camp in Pendleton, California.
General Ky Exiled In United States. (Photo by Paul Slade/Paris Match via Getty Images)

<<Story related to the poem>>

Live in the now,
Old enemies are friends,
The big money depends
On the friendship!

Shaking the hands
That kill their own people.
The exile all dangle
With known devil!

They bring us shame!
The acquisitive ones
Who were refugees once.
Soulless creatures!
(Abhanga-style poem)

1975 Mr and Mrs Nguyễn Cao Kỳ – ex Vice President of South Vietnam – in a refugee camp in Pendleton, California.
General Ky Exiled In United States. (Photo by Paul Slade/Paris Match via Getty Images)

Love Paradise – Love Hell’s related information

<<Story related to the information>>

Vietnamese-American women place strict rules on men returning to homeland – written – By JOHN BOUDREAU | Mercury News, Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED: November 5, 2011 at 5:03 pm | UPDATED: August 13, 2016 at 1:47 pm (link to the article)

Photo by Jim Gensheimer/San Jose Mercury News. 2/2000. –VIETNAM– The bar scene in Ho Chi Minh City is complete with women wearing scant outfits. Right after the war, this kind of dress would have been cause for imprisonment. As Vietnam opened up to the West in the early nineties, dress codes were relaxed.

US sailors of the visiting USS Curtis Wilbur drink and chat with Vietnamese women at a bar inside a dancing in downtown Da Nang on 29 July 2004. The Arleigh Buirke class guided missile destroyer is on the second port call by an American military vessel since the Vietnam War ended three decades ago. The 342-strong crew of the ship will spend six days in the city where US Marines landed in March 1965, becoming the first American combat troops in Vietnam. (Photo credit should read HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images)

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — The trouble for Henry Liem begins every time he prepares to return to his homeland.

Getting the required visa from the Vietnamese government is a breeze. It’s the “second visa” — from his wife worried that he will stray over there — that requires diplomatic skills.

“My wife is always cranky every time I go,” said Liem, a philosophy instructor at San Jose City College who visits Vietnam twice a year to teach at a university. “So I rarely disclose my upcoming trip until the last minute. It’s pain minimization. The longer she knows, the longer I have to bear the pain.”

Thirty-six years after the Vietnam War ended, Communist government officials openly welcome Vietnamese-Americans back, even those who fought against them. But another Civil War has erupted, this one pitting Vietnamese-American women against their husbands and boyfriends who want to return to the Southeast Asian country. The men’s significant others contend that Vietnamese women lie in wait to ambush them, often eager for the financial stability such a match would bring.

“All the girls in Vietnam are aggressive. They attack!” said Ha Tien, 38, who owns an accounting business in San Jose. She said she lost her man to such a love guerrilla a few years ago.

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The Rotten Apples’ related information

Nguyen Cao Ky with his wife Dang Tuyet Mai and their daughter Nguyen Cao Ky Duyen in their apartment at the Tan Son Nhut Air Base – Photo by Marilyn Silverstone.

<<Story related to the information.>>

Nguyễn Cao Kỳ and his third wife, in a visit to Vietnam in 2004, was welcomed by the high-ranking Communist official Phạm Thế Duyệt. A statue of Hồ Chí Minh was in the background.

Nguyễn Cao Kỳ in South Vietnam before the fall of Saigon.

The Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty, signed in Manila, Philippines, on Sept. 8, 1954, created a regional defense arrangement called the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). Its purpose was to foster a system of mutual support to protect Southeast Asia against Communist expansion. The signatory nations were Australia, France, New Zealand, Great Britain, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, and the United States. Vice President Nguyễn Cao Kỳ stood far left in the picture and President Nguyễn Văn Thiệu is third from the right.

South Vietnamese General Nguyen Cao Ky, Prime Minister of Republic of Vietnam (1965-7) and Commander in Chief of South Vietnamese Air Force pictured in October 1971. Three decades after the war Nguyen Cao Ky has been given permission to return home to celebrate the Lunar New Year festival of Tet. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read AFP/Getty Images)

Nguyễn Cao Kỳ, once the powerful premier of South Vietnam, now runs a liquor-delicatessen-grocery store in the blue collar suburban community of Norwalk, California. Here Ky works the cash register as his wife, Đặng Tuyết Mai (back to camera) after escaping Vietnam in 1975.

HO CHI MINH CITY, VIET NAM: Former South Vietnamese vice-president Nguyen Cao Ky (L) and his former war-time body guard Ly Huynh hug each other as Ky is greeted upon his arrival at the Sheraton Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, 14 January 2004. Ky, who was a staunch anti-communist, returned home with Hanoi’s blessing, nearly 30-years after the Vietnam War. AFP PHOTO/HOANG DINH Nam (Photo credit should read HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images)

Nguyễn Cao Kỳ hugged his old bodyguard in Vietnam in 2004.

===>>> Video of Kỳ talking to the press on his trip back to Vietnam in 2004, calling all Vietnamese to unite to build Vietnam to become a dragon of Asia.

Nguyễn Cao Kỳ’s coffin was covered with the flags of the US, Malaysia and South Vietnam. Funeral in Malaysia on 29/7/2011.

Nguyễn Cao Kỳ’s picture on a worship altar for the deceased at Vĩnh Nghiêm temple, Saigon. It is believed Kỳ wore Malaysian costume as he was awarded a Tunship by the Malaysian Government in 1965. Tun title was also rewarded to all retired Malaysian Prime Ministers.

American First Lady Bird Johnson, President Lyndy B. Johnson, South Vietnam Second Lady Đặng Tuyết Mai. Phillipines First Lady Imelda Marcos and South Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyễn Cao Kỳ in Manila.

Đặng Tuyết Mai and Nguyễn Cao Kỳ 1969.

Kỳ Duyên and Đặng Tuyết Mai in the US before Ms Mai fell ill.

Kỳ Duyên and Đặng Tuyết Mai, Duyên’s third partner and Duyên’s two daughters.

Kỳ Duyên and her mother on a cruise.

Restaurant Phở Ta of Đặng Tuyết Mai built in 2009 in an affluent area in Saigon.

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The Rotten Apples

Prime Minister of South Vietnam, Nguyen Cao Ky, and his wife made a two-day visit to southeast Queensland in 1967. (link to newspaper article http://www.couriermail.com.au/ipad/wild-welcome-for-vietnam-pm/news-story/57a5dd5fc8d76c59d83d166e7d9e5d4e)

<<Facts, pictures, and video clips related to this post – visits, investments in Vietnam by the family of the ex-Vice President’s family>>

I always feel very lucky that I was accepted to resettle in Australia after escaping the Communist. However, I also feel inferior and have developed a complex seeing the bad things other Vietnamese refugees did in Australia that made headlines. Crimes such as drug dealings, forming gangs, welfare fraud, immigration tricks,… I don’t join Vietnamese groups that habitually gather to speak loudly in our native language and yet don’t mingle with others at social events in Australia. I distance myself from unruly, uncivilized, unethical and small-minded Vietnamese. Another friend once told me that he felt good that Australians often mistook him for Japanese because he didn’t feel proud to be recognized as Vietnamese.

More than ever, I witness the financial burden brought on by recently arrived asylum seekers as well as the social issues coming with them while Australia struggles with budget deficits. These days, like those in later generations of Vietnamese refugees that I know, I feel embarrassed to be recognized as a refugee in Australia. I dislike reading stories of Vietnamese boat people that said they escaped the poverty induced by the Communists. I don’t like to be blindly grouped as economic refugees.

The death of Đặng Tuyết Mai, on 21st December 2016, brought mixed feelings to me. She was also known as Madame Nguyễn Cao Kỳ, the former wife of Nguyễn Cao Kỳ, South Vietnam Vice President until his retirement from politics in 1971. As the country fell to the Communists in 1975, Mr and Mrs Kỳ fled to the US.

In 2004, Mr Kỳ returned to Vietnam, playing golf with Communist leaders, calling for peace and reconciliation with a government he once fought and hinting that he might even move back to Vietnam. Mr Kỳ later was involved in organizing trips to Vietnam for potential U.S. investors.

In September 2009, Madame Tuyết Mai went back to Vietnam and opened a plush restaurant called “Pho Ta” – specialised in the traditional Vietnamese beef noodle soup – on one of the busy streets in Saigon.

Mr Kỳ’s daughter from his second marriage to Madame Tuyết Mai, a former stewardess, is Nguyễn Cao Kỳ Duyên. Kỳ Duyên was a 10-year-old girl when Saigon fell in 1975. She and 20 others escaped in a crammed military cargo plane to Washington. Her father flew his own helicopter to a waiting U.S. aircraft carrier. Now she is a well-known mistress of ceremonies on the thirty-four-year-old and famous “Paris By Night” show. The Vietnamese-language musical variety show is popular overseas as well as in Vietnam and features musical performances by renowned pre-Saigon Fall performers and modern-day young stars.

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Interview: hiMe printed the book of her story as a Refugee — Blookup Blog

Summer is light and joyful, but many things can happen under the sun. Some are less light, but are also essential to know, essential to History and Memory. It might take a while, but things do get lighter and sunnier when you begin to write them down. hiMe, from the blog A Refugee’s Journey, shares all that…

via Interview: hiMe printed the book of her story as a Refugee — Blookup Blog

A Silver Bar Tears Up the Paper’s related information

The Vietnamese Communist Customs officer collects the VND$100,000 slipped beneath the papers.

<<Story related to the information>>


Video the moments a Vietnamese Customs officer keeps an overseas Vietnamese standing in wait at Tân Sơn Nhất airport’s passport counter until she bribes him to leave. This doesn’t happen to Westerners.

Customs officer at Vietnam airport caught in bribery scandal (vietnambreakingnews.com) JULY 6, 2016

A customs officer at Da Nang International Airport has been reassigned pending an internal investigation after a woman posted a complaint on Facebook accusing him of soliciting bribes.

The Vietnamese woman, a university teacher, said in the Facebook post on Tuesday that she arrived in Da Nang the previous night from the United States, and the officer found six bottles of supplements in her luggage.

He said the bottles were subjected to taxes but she could simply give him some “money for a drink,” according to the post. She gave him a VND200,000 bill and the officer asked for “another bill” for his colleague.

On departure, Customs officers at Vietnam airports often harass overseas Vietnamese by telling them to open their luggages to be examined. The incidents often led to the passengers missing their flights unless the victims bribe the officers.

Pham Duy Nhat, director of the customs department at the airport told Thanh Nien Wednesday that the officer, who is not identified, has been removed from the luggage check unit. He said he will look into security footage before imposing necessary punishment.

According to Vietnam’s customs regulations, luggage brought from overseas are subject to taxes only when exceeding personal use limits.

Using the excuse to check on luggages from arrival flights, Customs officers open luggages and steal goods from inside.

Video where the Customs officer calling people in an authoritarian voice “Eh, that guy!” (at point 1:18) and collects bribes (at point 2:53).


Video Vietnamese Customs officers wanted to forfeit “undeclared” $5,000 USD from overseas Vietnamese.

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A Chinese girl in Vietnam’s related information

Chinese Opera actresses put on make-up before a performance.

Chinese Opera actresses put on make-up before a performance.

<<Story related to the information>>

CHOLON 1955 - La Rue des Marins - Đồng Khánh street. The book "CHOLON" was written by Jean-Michel de Kermadec with pictures from Raymond Cauchetier. It was printed in December 1955 by "'Imprimerie Française d'Outre-Mer" (IFOM) 3, Rudyard-Kipling Street (Nguyễn Siêu street) in Saigon.

CHOLON 1955 – La Rue des Marins – Đồng Khánh
street. The book “CHOLON” was written by Jean-Michel de Kermadec with pictures from Raymond Cauchetier. It was printed in December 1955 by “‘Imprimerie Française d’Outre-Mer” (IFOM) 3, Rudyard-Kipling Street (Nguyễn Siêu street) in Saigon.

Chợ Lớn (The Big Market) in Chinese quarter in Saigon before the Fall of Saigon

Chợ Lớn (The Big Market) in Chinese quarter in Saigon before the Fall of Saigon

A market in Chợ Lớn (The Big Market) - another name for the Chinese quarter in Saigon in 1965.

A market in Chợ Lớn (The Big Market) – another name for the Chinese quarter in Saigon in 1965.

A market in Chợ Lớn in 1966.

A market in Chợ Lớn in 1966.

A street in Chợ Lớn in 1970.

A street in Chợ Lớn in 1970.

A street in Chợ Lớn.

A street in Chợ Lớn.

A street in Chợ Lớn.

A street in Chợ Lớn.

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