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Cablegate: Provincial Adventures

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

230850Z Feb 01

2001HOCHI00183 - UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED PTQ2282

PAGE 01 HO CHI 00183 230859Z
ACTION EAP-00

INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 CIAE-00 DOEE-00 SRPP-00
DS-00 EB-00 FBIE-00 UTED-00 VC-00 H-01 TEDE-00
INR-00 IO-00 L-00 VCE-00 AC-01 NSAE-00 OMB-01
OPIC-01 PA-00 PM-00 PRS-00 ACE-00 P-00 SP-00
TEST-00 USIE-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRM-01 DRL-02 G-00
NFAT-00 SAS-00 /007W
------------------C94E09 230900Z /38
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 4649
INFO AMEMBASSY HANOI
AMEMBASSY TOKYO
AMEMBASSY BEIJING
AMCONSUL HONG KONG
ASEAN COLLECTIVE
USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI
JICPAC HONOLULU HI
SECDEF WASHDC
DIA WASHDC
NSC WASHDC
DEPTTREAS WASHDC
USDOC WASHDC

UNCLAS HO CHI MINH CITY 000183

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV AND EAP/PD/JMARTIN
STATE ALSO FOR PRM
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 HO CHI 00183 230859Z
STATE ALSO FOR DRL
HANOI ALSO FOR USAID/RASMUSSEN
CINCPAC FOR FPA
SECDEF FOR ISA/EA/LSTERN
DEPTTREAS FOR AJEWELL
NSC FOR GENE CHRISTY
USDOC FOR 4431/MAC/AP/OKSA/HPPHO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV VM
SUBJECT: PROVINCIAL ADVENTURES

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1. (U): POLOFF RECENTLY TRAVELED TO LONG AN PROVINCE JUST
SOUTH OF HO CHI MINH CITY ON THE LAST LEG OF A TRIP
THROUGH THE MEKONG DELTA. HE CHECKED INTO A NEW PRIVATELY
OWNED HOTEL RATHER THAN THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED GUESTHOUSE.
AFTER DINNER WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF THE PROVINCIAL
PEOPLE'S COMMITTEE (WHICH POLOFF PAID FOR), HE RETURNED TO
THE HOTEL TO RETIRE FOR THE NIGHT. WITH PROFUSE
APOLOGIES, THE HOTEL PROPRIETOR INFORMED HIM THAT HE COULD
NOT STAY AT THE HOTEL. THE LOCAL POLICE HAD TOLD HER THAT
AS POLOFF WAS THE GUEST OF THE PEOPLE'S COMMITTEE, HE HAD
TO STAY AT THE GOVERNMENT GUESTHOUSE UNLESS HE HAD
SPECIFIC PERMISSION FROM THE PEOPLE'S COMMITTEE TO STAY
ELSEWHERE. THIS, ACCORDING TO THE POLICE, WAS FOR THE
PROTECTION OF THE DIPLOMAT.

3. (U) POLOFF REFUSED TO CALL THE PEOPLE'S COMMITTEE TO
ASK PERMISSION TO STAY AT A PRIVATE HOTEL AND REMOVED HIS
LUGGAGE FROM THE ROOM HE HAD ALREADY CHECKED INTO. BUT HE
ALSO REFUSED TO CHECK INTO THE GOVERNMENT GUESTHOUSE.
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 HO CHI 00183 230859Z
ALTHOUGH IT WAS ALREADY AFTER 10:00 P.M., HE CONSIDERED
GOING ON TO HO CHI MINH CITY (ABOUT AN HOUR'S DRIVE AWAY).
IN THE END, HOWEVER, HE FOUND A SMALL PRIVATELY OWNED
GUESTHOUSE IN BEN LUC VILLAGE STILL IN LONG AN PROVINCE
WHERE HE SPENT THE NIGHT. THE GUESTHOUSE WAS SINGULARLY
LACKING IN AMENITIES, BUT IT WAS WORTH STAYING THERE JUST
TO PROVE A POINT.

4. (U) NEXT MORNING, POLOFF WENT TO SEE A SCHOOL BUILDING
NEARBY THAT HAD BEEN BUILT BY THE U.S. ARMY 46TH
ENGINEERING BATTALION IN 1968. WHILE POLOFF WAS TAKING
PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE BUILDING, A LONG AN POLICEMAN ARRIVED
AND INFORMED HIM THAT TAKING PICTURES OF "SENSITIVE
INSTALLATIONS" WAS PROHIBITED. POLOFF RETORTED THAT THIS
WAS THE FIRST TIME HE HAD HEARD AN OLD SCHOOLHOUSE
REFERRED TO AS A SENSITIVE INSTALLATION, BUT SINCE HE HAD
ALREADY TAKEN ALL THE PHOTOS HE NEEDED HE PUT THE CAMERA
AWAY. ON THE WAY TO THE MAIN ROAD, HOWEVER, POLOFF
STOPPED THE CAR IN FRONT OF ANOTHER, NEWER SCHOOL AND
SNAPPED A FEW MORE PICTURES, AGAIN JUST TO PROVE A POINT.
BECAUSE OF THE LONG ARM OF THE LAW IN LONG AN IT WILL BE A
LONG TIME BEFORE THE PROVINCE SEES ANOTHER CONGEN VISITOR.

AND AN UNSCHEDULED MEETING IN VINH LONG PROVINCE
--------------------------------------------- ---

5. (U) POLOFF HAD SEVERAL MEETINGS WITH GOVERNMENT
OFFICIALS IN VINH LONG PROVINCE DURING HIS VISIT TO THE
MEKONG DELTA. WHILE IN THE PROVINCE, POLOFF NOTICED IN A
TOURIST BOOK THAT THE MAIN PAGODA OF VIETNAM'S MENDICANT
BUDDHIST SECT (THE MONKS WHO GO AROUND BEGGING FOR ALMS)
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 04 HO CHI 00183 230859Z
WAS LOCATED IN VINH LONG TOWN. WHEN POLOFF MENTIONED TO
HIS PROVINCIAL PEOPLE'S COMMITTEE HOSTS THAT HE WOULD LIKE
TO STOP BY THE PAGODA DURING A BREAK IN THE SCHEDULE, THEY
SAID THE HEAD MONK WAS BUSY AND WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO MEET.
WHEN POLOFF SUGGESTED HE JUST WANTED TO GO AS A TOURIST,
HIS HOSTS PROTESTED, "BUT THIS WAS NOT ON YOUR PROPOSED
ITINERARY." NEXT DAY, AFTER THE OFFICIAL MEETINGS HAD
CONCLUDED, POLOFF WENT TO THE PAGODA ANYWAY. THE HEAD
MONK THERE WAS ONLY TOO HAPPY TO MEET WITH HIM.

RAY

UNCLASSIFIED

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