Iama former Vietnamese refugee who escaped at the conclusion of the Vietnam War, rowed for 17 days across the Pacific to Malaysia before settling in the USA. AMA!
(I told my father about the AMA process, and he was interested in getting his story out about his escape after the Vietnam War. I hope you all enjoy his story as much as I do, and please ask away! He loves to talk about it. He would like to keep his privacy, so if the mods could tell me how to get proof, that would be great!)
My name is Si and I'm a former Vietnamese refugee. The media referred to us as the boat people. I lived in Saigon (now called Ho Chi Minh City) for the majority of my life. During the war, I thought my life was over. The future that I had planned was shattered, as I was only 25 years of age. After Saigon fell, I thought seriously about escaping Vietnam. After one year, my wife, who was only 19, and I (31) decided to escape after midnight with a group of others on a small boat.
We decided to plot course south to Malaysia. After only one day, our motor died. We had very little water, and our rations of food only lasted us a few days. We ended up resorting to rowing. After only a week, we started to feel defeated, as we accepted our fate to die at that moment. One man jumped overboard during our travels. Despite this mentality, we kept on rowing. I told my wife to sit close to me, and to not move, as to not waste energy. There was a mirror in the lower deck, and when we looked at our faces, we could barely recognize ourselves after the second week. It was after 17 days did we finally see an offshore oil company off the coast of Malaysia. They took us in and we were stationed there for approximately 9 months before getting word that a sponsor were able to ship us over to the USA. When we arrived on US soil, we had nothing but our clothes and few belongings. We didn't even have a penny coming in.
We now live in a very comfortable suburban city in Michigan. We truly lived the American dream. In 2008, I wrote a book called "17 Days Across the Pacific Ocean." I would like to one day translate this to English for others to enjoy, however, the cost of translating from Vietnamese to English is too high!
EDIT: We will be here on and off until about 9 PM!
EDIT 2: Thank you everyone for the questions! My father is now going to bed. He will tackle the last three questions tomorrow morning. He is overjoyed to get his story out to others.