The Vietnamese Boat People – Pulau Bidong during 1978-1979

Although I never set foot on Pulau Bidong, my parents have experienced hardships that they will always remember for the rest of their lives.  They retell stories and recount memories of what it was like in Pulau Bidong during their time at the refugee camp in 1978-1979.  Their stories are very tragic and I want to share their story as “Boat People” to the world.  I saw a huge interest in talking and connecting with other Pulau Bidong ex-refugees when I googled “Pulau Bidong” so I decided to create this blog to see if they can connect with their long lost neighbors and friends of Bidong.

A picture of my parents and my brother.  It was very expensive for them to take this picture ($2), but today, they are glad of having taken it!

A picture of my parents and my brother. It was very expensive for them to take this picture ($2), but today, they are glad of having taken it!

My parents fled Southern Vietnam (Ca Mau) after the Vietnam War in late 1978 when they were forced to leave because of all the hatred towards the Chinese people.  The Chinese who did stay, were persecuted by the locals.  My parents, along with their siblings acquired a boat through a friend, a compass, and a map for their journey.  My parents, along with the people on their boat had no set destination in mind, just to flee and find freedom.  They wanted to leave as quickly as they could, to find the freedom that the other millions of Chinese Vietnamese people who fled during the same time were looking for.  They abandoned their house, belongings, mementos, and wedding photos in hope to flee the communist country.  They took only what was most important to them.  The most valuable thing my mom brought with her was her diamond ring which my dad bought for her for their wedding.

With the only navigation tools they had of a compass and a map, they sailed to the closest country with hopes that they will accept the refugees.  They landed in Kuala Terengganu, Malaysia, a few days later, but was told to go to Pulau Bidong where a refugee camp was set up.  There were many pirates who stole my parents siblings’ things such as their guitar, jewelery, and other valuable things.  Luckily, my mom hid her wedding ring inside the waistband of her pants and the pirates never got to them.  The pirates did not care who you were or what your purpose here was for.  They only had a few things in mind, to rob, rape, beat and murder the Boat People who were going through hunger and sea sickness.  Finally, after what was a horrendous, long boat trip and with many people sick, throwing up on themselves, they landed on the island of Pulau Bidong off the coast of Malaysia on 10/22/1978.  My parents even recall having to purposely sink the boat they were in so that they were allowed in.  They were boat #91, boat name called MH 375 (Minh Hai 375).

Because they were one of the first wave of Boat People there, there was barely any resources and shelter.  Each family was put through the ultimate test of the survival of the fittest.  My dad along with my uncles had to build their own houses out of wood from the forest, some string and some blue tarp they had gathered up.  Fetching “fresh” water was not an easy job.  Every time they wanted water to drink, cook or bathe in, they had to walk up to the mountainous area and collect water from wells which they dug up.  Food was given in rations from the supply boat that arrived every once in a while.  People would have to swim out or use the bridge to where the supply boat was parked.  My parents recall the supply boat giving out peas and chicken inside tin cans.  It was all they had to eat there.

As days passed by, more and more Boat People who fled Vietnam arrived at Bidong island.  This created an economy in which people bartered for money, food, and essential things.  Since my family knew their time on the island could be long, they needed money to survive so they thought of some ways to make a little business selling things.  My dad was the first (he believes) baker there as he traded some of his belongings for flour to make bread.  He cooked the bread in a tin cookie box in which he sold to other people for them to sell for profit.  Luckily, my mom was (and still is) a good chef.  She made Banh Bia to sell for others to get away from the rationed canned food they were given.  But to start this little island business, it set her back some valuables.  She had to trade her wedding ring for ingredients to be able to make the pastries.  It was such a memorable and valuable item to my mom, but my parents needed to make sacrifices to raise and feed my newborn brother, who was born on Bidong island.

They were assigned to “Section F”, which was near the helicopter pad, in the back area of the island on the beach.  They recall going to the PA system everyday and listening to who got to leave the camp to go to either USA, Europe, or Australia.  They were always frustrated because they felt like they were never chosen.  The PA also served as communication to the refugees.  It told when new boats arrived, and when to pick up food.  The PA even played Christmas music during Christmas time.  It was their lifeline to survival and the freedom that would come soon.

On May 28th, 1979, my mom gave birth to my brother, Cuong Ngo on the island.  The doctor that helped them was very nice.  My mom remembers that there was another mom giving birth next to her at the same time (a girl).  My mom really wants to connect with the doctor.

Many people in Pulau Bidong took care of Cuong Ngo.  He was everyone’s favorite baby to take care of and to carry because he was very easy going.  He gained the name of Bidong Cuong there.  My mom also wants to connect with those who took care of her son.

13 months later, in 1979, my family was lucky enough to become sponsored by a Church in Alabama to come to America.  And they currently reside in the Bay Area, California today.


My parents, An Ngo and Phuong Du were on boat #91 MH375 from Ganh Hao (Ca Mau), VN to Pulau Bidong on 10/22/1978. They lived in Section “F” near the helicopter pad (by means of the rear of the beach).  They left in 1979 to USA.

My dad (An Ngo) might be the baker who provided the Bidong refugee bread as he said he was the only baker he knew on the island during late 1978. He said he put cloth on top of the bread to keep it warm and sold it for people. He would sell 2 loaves for $1. They said they kneeded the bread, cooked it, and sold it.

My mom (Phuong Du) made a pastry called Banh Bia. Her son was born on May 28th 1979 (Kevin Ngo, or Bidong Cuong). A lot of my mom’s friends took care of Kevin Ngo, aka Bidong Cuong. She wants to connect with those who knew them.

Also, if anyone knows the nurse who delivered her son, please ask us (phuong168 [at] There was another baby girl who delivered right at the same time.

We were planning to go back to Bidong Island this Christmas time but then the tour called and said that it was Monsoon season so they were closed until March. Does anyone know of another tour that does a complete tour of the island?

My parents plan to connect with anyone they may have talked to, communicated with in Bidong Island.

Any of these names ring a bell? An Ngo, Phuong Du, Minh Canh Du, Quang Canh Du (captain of MH375 boat #91), Hong Canh Du, Hui Canh Du, they were all part of my parents siblings.

-Andrew Ngo writing for Phuong Du and An Ngo from San Leandro, California, USA.

I will update this post with more stories from what my parents can recall.

If you know of an ex-Pulau Bidong refugee, or if you are one, please put in the comments, the boat number, date of arrival, name, and email as my family would love to connect with anyone they might know.



  1. ducly said

    Nice work. I hope you will reconnect.

  2. sabri said

    nice story , hope you reach Pulau bidong as soon as possible

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  4. helen pham said

    I arrived to Pualau Bidong on 10/14/1981 and my boat named PB 370 I lived there to Jan. 1982 I am living in Southern California now If you know any body who lived there during that time please connect us so we might have a reuion of Pulau bidong ex refugee thanks.

  5. wow… u really impressed me with ur luvly story…. actually i found this web and ur story because i want 2 know more abut refugee.. as i will attend an interview session at united mation… seriously ur story really awsome!!!!
    Good luck!!!

  6. Ron Lake said

    My wife, Phung Tran at that time, stayed on Bidong from late October 1978 to
    July 1979. She landed on mainland Malaysia ( boat #101 )near the same city, and was sent the following day to the island.Her memories are exactly the same – building their own shelter, digging wells for water, the loudspeaker announcements, canned chicken…everything. She was one of the first to go out on the rocks near the water & dig out enough tiny mussels to make porridge for many people; if your father was the baker, she had to have known him. She too was setup on the back ( side ) beach area, and recalled helping to care for another baby ( probably not Cuong – she thinks he went to Switzerland ). They had left from Soc Trang in the south, and initially, had an engine problem after only a few hours, Fortunately, they were able to find a town to pull into & fix the engine for the journey. They too were chased across the sea by pirates, but thankfully fared better than others had to endure. Anyway, your story caught my eye – we live in The Bay Area too !!!
    Looking forward to communicating with you…I’m sure they have a lot to talk about !!!


    • Andrew said

      @Ron Lake,

      I shall forward this for my parents to read. I’m sure they must know your wife. They were boat #91, and because you stated where she lived, they must have seen each other.

  7. Ron Lake said

    Hi Andrew –

    Ever get a chance to talk to your parents ?


  8. Andrew said

    Hey Ron,

    Yes, I was able to talk to them, and tell them all about this. Unfortunately, they don’t know your wife by name. I’m sure that if they see each other, they might recognize one another.

    Our whole family was planning a trip to Pulau Bidong this Spring, but canceled because we learned that it was monsoon season and would have been very dangerous to go.

  9. Ron Lake said

    Kim & I are going back to VN this November, and will probably make time to visit the island before we return. Not sure of Malaysia’s plans to start developing the island …hopefully they leave it as a memorial. Last night, Kim shared many more stories ( details ) about life on the island, and she does recall “buying” baked goods from someone – would be a shame if they never met having spent time together on the same island, at the same time, in the same area. We are going to try & locate Kim’s friend on the island, probably in Switzerland – but would be nice to meet someone local…what do you think Andrew ?


  10. van nguyen said

    I enjoy reading stories like this and thanks for sharing your experience. my father and I arrived on the island in 1979, I don’t remember when, but we stayed for 6months and arrived in the US on Apr 19 1980. I was only 6 at the time but still have memories of the island and place. I do remember how we arrived and left the island, but I don’t remember any of the people. I was too young to understand what was happening and what was going on. The only thing that was important to me was playing on the beach and swimming in the ocean. I don’t think my father will like to go back, he is too old now and he says it brings back memories that he wants to forget. He did tell me that he taught english while on the island. I’m not sure if any of you took english class at the time. My father’s name is Nguyen Van Tuong. Maybe someone has heard of him. Although my father doesn’t talk about our ordeal, I wish I could share what I experienced from a childs point of view back on those day. I hope one of these days I get a chance to go back to that island. I also hope to set foot back in Vietnam, it’s been 30 yrs since I left.

  11. quynh nguyen said

    i was on the island /w my family (total 7) around august 1978- march 1979. i was 9 years old at the time. Boat number HG2451…..not sure of the exact boat #. lots of experience at the time….at the time, the island had about 8-10 thousand refugees… the time i had left, it was planned/projected to max out at 50 thousand.

  12. Vinh Loi said

    My family and I stayed on the Pulau Bidong from May 1979 to Dec 1981. I was 15 years old when I got there. I have experienced and seen the activities on the island per what you have written. Our boat number was KG0206B, if I am not mistaken, it is #411. When we left the camp going to USA, there were about 50 thousand people at that time. I remembered our shelter was just next to the tallest tree in the island at that time. After 30 years, not sure that tallest tree was still alive or not but if it is then our shelter was there.

    Are we allowed to visit and walk on the island now? Or just circle around the island. Let me know more info, I would like to visit the camp one day.

  13. Nang Tran said

    I arrived at Bidong from late 1978 to March 1979, we departed from Mo O Soc Trang with 3 boats, my boat is kg 0969 and # 29, when we touched the island only around 1500 people, I remember every thing was so expensive,eventhought a pot price can go up to $80 , most merchandises came from Malaysian police, they sold like a black market, and we didn’t receive enough rice, we got a lot dried salty fish, that our first step foods we lived at Bidong. A month later, boats came to Bidong everyday,foods and water improved, we had vegetables and chicken twice a week, instant noodles and canned fish were the basic supplies, rice started enough to eat, I thank UN Organization to help us to settle to live in this beautiful country USA.

  14. Tan Giok Hui said

    I was touched by the stories that you shared as it brought back vivid memories when was young, my parents used to take my siblings and I to Pantai Cinta Berahi in Kelantan to donate food and used clothings to the Vietnamese refugees.

    As for your queries on Pulau Bidong, it is open for public since 1999 and has been gazetted as recreational island. Yes, you are allowed to visit and walk on the Island and Mar to Aug perhaps would be the best months to visit the Island.

    You can contact Ping Anchorage for their Bidong Island Plus package (ex-Kuala Terengganu) offers a three-day, two-night package that gives you a good glimpse of Kuala Terengganu in addition to Bidong. If you prefer to tailor the package to your own special requirements, contact the company at 609-626-2020, or visit it at

  15. hien ngo said

    toi den dao vao nam 1987 gan 4 nam song o trai nen co rat nhieu ky niem mong gap lai nhung nguoi da song cung trai ngay xua hien toi dang song o sanleandro california

  16. Andrew said

    Hello Hien Ngo,

    Toi hien o san leandro. Cung ho Ngo. Khong chung minh la ba con.

    So dien thoai business la 510 – 635 – 8623, hoi An Qui Ngo or Phuong Du.

  17. Truyen said

    I was one of the refugee in Pulau Bidong. I was there in1982,during the escape we got rob by the pirates on the sea. They took all the valuable items from us but luckily they let us go and end up to Pulau Bidong Camp. I stayed there almost 4 years.My boat # is MB075. Now every times I think about it I got goose bump and couldn’t believe that I still alive this day and living in USA. By the way I was14 years old that time.

  18. Phương Anh said

    Gia dinh Phuong Anh den dao Pulau Bidong vao thang 4 nam 1981, o tren khu F (doi dien voi “san bay”) va roi dao vao thang 8 nam 1981. Trong thoi gian nay, Phuong Anh co sinh hoat trong “Doan Thanh Thieu Nien Thien Chi” (Phuong Anh nho co “bo” Sinh, anh Hiep, anh Hoa, anh Nghia, anh Minh, anh De, chi Minh, Chanh va con rat nhieu anh chi khac nua nhung trong khoanh khac Phuong Anh chua kip nho ten). Gia dinh Phuong Anh hien dang song tai thanh pho Houston, tieu bang Texas.

  19. Allan Yang said

    Excellent work Andrew. I am proud of you. I am sure your parents and uncles are proud of you, too. Keep up the good work.

  20. Chi said

    I was on Pulau Bidong Refugee Camp from around September 1978 – September 1979 (boat # 132 from Tra-Vinh). My house was also by the helicopter pad, Section F. I have a photo (in front of our house) very similar to your parents’ photo and I would be happy to share with you and others. Your parents look very familiar to me.

  21. Andrew said

    @Chi, Please email me the picture in front of your house, I’m sure my parents would love to see the pictures. The picture above is the only photo they have at Pulau Bidong. We are planning a return trip this summer.

  22. Rudy Osman said

    Hello all,

    I’m a Malaysian and really touching to read all the stories of VBP stories.
    I did some research on yahoo search about the Vietnamese refugees not only in Bidong Island but also in Galang and found it really worth it to study and feel it too. Now days no very many peoples wants to look back but i think history is very important for our future generations.
    For those who would like to get in touch with me please email at and maybe we can share or get to know each other even though I’m a Malay.


  23. Chau Quach said

    Hi. I visited Pulau Bidong in October 2000. At that time, it was still restricted. Vacation packages were on the skimpy side, and they were promoting more of Pulau Redang. The rela (guard) and the jetty boatmen were surprised to see a Vietnamese American. My recent adventurous predecessors were both males — from Australia and California. Luckily I had help from a Malaysian college friend who was based in Terengannu to create our own “tour” if you will. I am so glad for your Web site; and I definitely look forward to keeping in touch.

  24. Bang,H-Hung said

    Hung den dao May/1980 va o khu ” F ” Paulau Bidong. Cho toi Nov./1980 sau do chuyen qua ( Sungei besi transit ) den Feb./1981 toi dinh cu tai Toronto CANADA Feb.11/1981, boat DN 1502 # 963, chu tau ten HAI xuat phat tai ben CHU-HAI Ba-Ria Vung Tau. Mong tim lai cac ban & nguoi quen cung tau NGUYEN,DUC-HANH o Anaheim California. TRAN,V-DAI o Wichita Kansas. NGO,TRUONG-HAI o Minissota, Cha THE o Caglary Canada. AnhKY o Quebee Canada. NGYEN,THI-NGOC-HUYEN o Ohio co chi & anh re ten TUYEN hien dinh cu tai Adeilade Australia. Rat mong qui vi nao co thong tin xin lien he Hung (416)564-5462 Canada. Thank you so much

  25. Joseph Hong said

    It’s my fortune to meet you guys once again after this years. I was there from 10/07/78-06/01/79. Those memories were acerbic. Although it’s already been 30 years, however, it seems like it just happened yesterday. Whenever those bitter memories came through my mind, my tears bursted endlessly. No one would comprehen how it feels but yourself. It’s hard to look for the people who overcame through this like you and your parents. I sonsider myself lucky to be alive and yet I found your parents who had the same difficulties as I did. I live near your parents’ area (section “F” in front of cemetary). I never forget those bitter feelings for burrying unlucky people who passed away. I also involved in digging stone water well near by where i used to live. I am glad that today we still here and discuss what had happened to us. i hope that i can hear more from all of you. I wish the best for all of you.

  26. Joseph Hong said

    My boat # 50 TV 148.The metal boat laid near the base of the temple hill

  27. Lam said

    I’m very glad to hear someone in the same boat then me, KG0969, I was 9 yrs old…..Through these severals days in china sea, two year in PulauBidong, Horrible !!!!!Now I appreciate the life………….Thank you !

  28. Nang Tran said

    I am glad to hear you from the boat KG 0969 that we arrived at Pulau Bidong in late 1978, I try to see and hear how people from KG 0969 are doing after more than 30 years. I have resided at Seattle since 1979, and I worked in Alaska about one year. I know a few KG 0969 where they live now, but there are also ones that I don’t know where they’ve gone. I will go to Australia this Summer to see some of my friends also from KG 0969, and some of my relatives from KG 0969 as well. I knew the boat KG 0969 owner lived in Chigaco in 1980, the rest live in Oklahoma, Massachusetts, San Jose, New York, Seattle, and some of them in Melbourne Australia. So you were only 9 years old that time and now you’re around 41. How are you doing? Were you following your parents. I hope more and more people from KG 0969 to join in for creating a KG 0969 journey the past and the future.

  29. Nadya said

    Vinh Loi ; yes, visitors are allowed to come to this island and have a visit/trekking/walk..

    Tan Giok Hui; Pantai Cinta Berahi is now known as Pantai Cahaya Bulan.. ;p

    I’m a Malaysian, and welcoming all of the refugees to come back and visit this Bidong Island.. ;p

  30. Rita Ng said

    Dear Andrew & ex-families of P.Bidong,

    My name is Rita a malaysian. I’ve visited P.Bidong last year for diving. It is indeed a nice island. We are organizing a CleanUp activities for P.Bidong this year, tentatively @24 – 26 September 2010. We are reaching out to all ex-families of P.Bidong whom are interested in participating this clean up Project for both underwater and beach. It is mean to rejuvenate P.Bidong to put her back to her origin beauty of the island.

    For us, the island has once a upon a time, a home for the “boat people”, we in Malaysia will continue to keep to treasure the island for she has unspeakable history of the island.

    We hope to hear from interested ex-families of P. Bidong.

    Rgds – Rita

  31. Vinh Loi said

    Hello All,

    Finally I had a chance to visit Pulau Bidong Island a couple days ago (17 July 2010) after left there 29 years ago. The surface of once-called “refugee camp” totally couldn’t be recognized anymore because there are many tall trees and grass have grown all over the island. Looking toward island from the beach (used to be called Zone B, I think), it looks like a “jungle”. There is barely any walking path that you can find. However, when I went to the F zone, from the beach I walked up the “stone” steps, I recognized ruined temple, ruined church and some buddha and Quan Yin statues – all of them without heads. Not far from the ruined church, the “Ta On” statue of “Father and Daughter”, few vertical “triangle” statue were located. There are two cemeteries on the island: one is located on each “side” of the center of the “camp”. Heard that many Vietnamese/Chinese people came back to the island this pas April (Sweep Tomb day or called Thanh Minh in Vietnamese) to pray their relatives whom were buried on the island.

    It brought back never-faded memories to visit the island after almost 3 decades departure. I never thought that I had a chance to visit the island but I did. If you are interested to visit Pulau Bidong, please let me know.

    Boat #KG0206B
    Arrival: May 1979

  32. Tien Nguyen said

    I was in Pulau Bidong 1979. I would like to get in touch with everyone who was on the same boat as I was. My boat name is HOA BINH #200.

  33. Hello BOATPEOPLE.

    Tôi rất hy vọng được liên lạc với tất cả mọi người đi trên tàu ĐN1502 # số thứ tự 693 khỡi hành tại CHU HẢi BÀ- RỊA VỦNG-TÀU tới đảo tháng 5 nãm 1980.
    Chủ thuyền tên HẢI sống tại CHU-HẢI, tôi còn nhớ trên tàu có Cha THỂ đi CALGARY-CANADA, Anh chị TUYÊN đi ADELAIDE- AUSTRALIA và có cô Em đi OHIO-USA, Vợ Chồng CHINH và con đi AUSTRIA. Vợ Chồng Anh KỶ & con đi QUEBEC-CANADA. THÚY cô nhi đi FRANCE, cô NGOAN ở CHU-HẢI đi NERTHELAND, Ở đảo tôi có biết và ở cùng lều vơí TRẦN-ĐẠI hay viết truyện tiểu-thuyết đi WICHITA-KANSAS City USA. NGUYỄN,ĐỨC-HẠNH đi ANAHEIM-CALIFORNIA. Hai Chị em NHUNG & HƯỜNG đi EDMONDTON-CANADA. NGÔ, TRƯỜNG-HẢI có người anh NGÔ, TRƯỜNG-SƠN đi MINESSOTA-MICHIGAN
    Rất mong tìm lại cựu BOATPEOPLE. Hoặc ai biết tin tức làm ơn liên lạc cho HÙNG.


  34. NGUYEN VAN SY said

    toi ten NGUYEN VAN SY # MC380 den dao vao ngay 12/04/1989 gan 2.5 nam song o trai nen co rat nhieu ky niem mong gap lai nhung nguoi da song cung trai ngay xua.
    nhat la “TRAN CAO THANG MC372,cung vo la NGUYEN THI HONG MC380″”HUYNH BA AN & HUYNH BA TRUNG” hien toi dang song o VIETNAM rat nho cac ban,mong hoi am som som
    dc: 17/5B khom DONG THANH A,phuong MY THANH,TPLX, AN GIANG
    DT 0763.721099

    • Andrew said

      Wow, I did not know that they had the camp going until 1989.

  35. Phuc Su said

    I arrived at Palau Bidong around the time of August of 1978, I believe the first two letters of my boat were BX, I remember the boat order for sure was 125. I would like to get in touch with some people that may have known me or vice versa. If anyone was on the same boat possibly? give me an email, thx -Paul

  36. Howard Duong said

    Very glad to hear about Pulau Bidong/ I was there in 1980 1981// Boat SS0929/#703/KT905… Wish all of you the Best.

  37. Trieu Nguyen said

    I came to Pulau Bidong on Boat BP267 from 1980-1981. Would like to in touch with those who was on the same boat. I was only 10 years old but I can still remember everything there. I lived with 2 other brothers in section B.

  38. Carol Banh-Pape said

    Thank you to everyone for sharing. It’s been truly humbling and awe inspiring to read the experiences of those who were there.

    My family left Vietnam on 11/27/78, because a) they didn’t want to continue to live under a communist regime and b) they were Chinese and were told to leave. He said that the communist government made them leave all of their belongings behind, pay for each person’s passage, and saw to it that the boats would be overcrowded and not sea worthy. He recalls us being part of what he describes as an exodus of 278 Chinese refugees that day, marching to an uncertain fate.

    Our harrowing journey took 4 days and 5 nights in a boat that was built to only hold about 20, but instead held 278. The conditions were deplorable. Needless to say, people were packed in like sardines. People vomited on themselves, as there was absolutely no room for movement. We arrived on Pulau Bidong’s shore on 12/5 and was at the refugee camp for a little over 6 months before we were sponsored to Syracuse, New York.

    The captain of the boat purposefully caused it to sink a short distance from the shore, because he knew that other boats had been forced to turn around and go back – many of them perishing at sea. Others were attacked by Thai pirates. The passengers were stripped of any valuables (some even having their gold teeth pried from their mouths), and then the men and children killed and the women and young girls raped and then murdered. The attractive girls were spared only to be sold into prostitution in Thailand.

    My father recalls carrying me to shore on his shoulders while holding my mother’s hand – the water coming up to their chins. As we were wading to the shore, there were what appeared to be about 1000 Malaysians waiting for them with rocks in their hands who then proceeded to pelt the refugees as they made their way to the shore. He vividly recalls the sounds that the rocks made as they came into contact with flesh. All he could do was to reach up and cover my head as we were still making their way out of the water. He also recalls seeing Malaysian police officers who stood by and watched the whole thing transpire, doing nothing to stop it.

    He also describes the black market of the refugee camp and how the refugees were mercilessly exploited. A small bag of rice cost $50. The pot to cook it in – $50-$100. You had to build your own shelter. I was only 2 at the time and have no recollection of the tragic events of my early childhood. He tells me about how he was reduced to tears when he couldn’t afford to purchase an apple for me to eat.

    I am grateful for the collective memories of those who lived through the horrific events of the Vietnam war and its aftermath. For far too long, I have taken for granted the freedom and ease that I have known for the majority of my life here in the States. Not anymore. My heart aches for what my people endured. Their faces from the photographs of that time haunt me in my sleep. I will never take for granted the freedom that we enjoy and will see to it that my children never do either.

    • Andrew said

      Wow, it’s great to hear the story from all different viewpoints and perspectives. Do you remember their boat number? I’m sure my parents knew your parents on the island because they lived there right around the same time.

  39. nguyen thu said

    I left VN & came to Malai as boat people at the end of 1978,. First the Malaysians put us in trai tam in Kulua Terrenganu for 1 months, then shifted us to Bidong, left Bidong in March of 1979, I was only 14 yrs old. Stayed at ‘Trai Chuyen Tiep” o “Kulua Lampur, truoc khi qua Canada in May 1979. Our boat left Vung Tau, gap song gio qua lai Vung Tau and stayed there for 1 month in the Hotel o Bai Truoc. We left ‘voi dien: Ban Chinh Thuc. So tau bat dau voi hai chu: DN…so thi quen roi. Co ai nho khong? Tui day nho nhung nam thang do lam lam. Khong bao gio quen duoc..

  40. Tuoc Nguyen said

    Co ai di chung tau PB164 den Bidong ngay 9 thang 5 nam 1981, xin lien lac voi toi

  41. Tuoc Nguyen said

    Xin lien lac email:

  42. chan said

    i was away when my father died during a monsoon returning from bidong – he was working for red cross i think, and the vietnamese from the island and overseas sent a lot of tributes / letters / etc …. I went twice bringing clothes the first time but was pleaded to bring paper and pencils the next time …..also hear stories about a love b but a is going to us, b is heading to australia, etc….green apples were sold at $1…..we brought in canned pork as treats

  43. Anne said

    My mother’s name is khen vu. She escaped Vietnam through vung tau area mid November of 1978 when she was 18. I will ask her about more information and update soon.

  44. Thong said

    Doc phan tin cua Thu, co the la tau DN0388, toi di chuyen nay roi Vung Tau truoc Tet ta, den Terrenganu tam goi la chuong heo/bo, rat ban thiu toi phai ra cong don dep ve sinh, voi nuoc chay nho giot, lay can 2 lit ma hung de tam rua, trai co khoang 4-500 nguoi song chen chuc, moi ngay Hoi Luoi Liem Ma Lai cung cap do an trong bao ny long. Den Terrenganu khoang thang 1, qua dao ngay 16 thang Hai, 1979. Neu Thu di cung chuyen thi rat may man lien lac lai duoc voi nhau cung vui.
    Tren chuyen tau co 1 chau be sinh ra tren tau, den bo duoc dua denbenh vien ngay de kham suc khoe….
    O Dao Bidong, toi lam Khoi Xay cat, sua chua Jetty, gan Be Chua Nuoc bang Sat mau den ngay bai truoc va bat dau xay dung Sick Bay cung voi cac nha thau Malai. Toi roi Bidong dau thang 7 qua Trai chuyen tiep 2 tuan va den Uc/melb 26 July 1979.
    Co ai cung tau DN0388 xin lien lac…

    nguyen thu said
    April 4, 2011 @ 9:49 pm
    I left VN & came to Malai as boat people at the end of 1978,. First the Malaysians put us in trai tam in Kulua Terrenganu for 1 months, then shifted us to Bidong, left Bidong in March of 1979, I was only 14 yrs old. Stayed at ‘Trai Chuyen Tiep” o “Kulua Lampur, truoc khi qua Canada in May 1979. Our boat left Vung Tau, gap song gio qua lai Vung Tau and stayed there for 1 month in the Hotel o Bai Truoc. We left ‘voi dien: Ban Chinh Thuc. So tau bat dau voi hai chu: DN…so thi quen roi. Co ai nho khong? Tui day nho nhung nam thang do lam lam. Khong bao gio quen duoc..

  45. Quyen Van Pham said

    So Glad to find this website.
    I came to the island around 1980 boat # PB655. People I know: Nguyen the Hung, Nguyen van Hai ( Truong va Pho ban chich ngua ), Ho thi Thu, Ho van Phuong, Chi be Ba, Chi Be Hai, Chau Tung, Thai thi Mai, Et.c. This island somehow is very mysteriously, most people come and leave with the ghosts of the island followed thru their lives. It’s hard to forget the memories that ones experienced during the stay on this island. Eventhough, after a longtime of travelling in life thru up and down. Ones could never forget Pulau Bidong. It held a special memory until the day I die.

  46. Quyen Van Pham said

    If any one know me or want to share the experiences, Please e-mail me at I am also look for the couples with one little boy on the same boat PB655 that gave me a cup of milk on the boat when I am half dead. Thank to you that had such a humane personality.

  47. Phuc nhu Pham said

    Can lien lac voi nhung nguoi di chung tau PB201, den dao Bidong thang 5,nam1981, my email:

  48. Anne said

    I’ve asked my mother about her escape from the Communist regime. She fled Vietnam mid November of 1978 from Vung Tau on the boat called VT and she believes it is #380. She landed on Pulau Tengah. If anyone was on that boat with her please contact me. She would love to hear how you are doing and I wish everyone he best!

  49. Norziati said

    Hi Carol Banh-Pape,

    I’m sad to hear story from you. I’m very ashamed to know about this wrong doing. On behalf of Malaysian, i hope you can apologized them. I think they know nothing about your journey or your hardship, either living in Vietnam or during your way to Pulau Bidong.

    There are a lot of stories found on the net. It can be good, it can be bad. For every hardship you found during your stay at Pulau Bidong, i hope you have no bad impression about Malaysian at all 🙂

    Please come to Malaysia and i’m sure you’ll find best ever holiday in your life

  50. Norziati said

    Hi Carol Banh-Pape,

    I’m sad to hear story from you. I’m very ashamed to know about this wrong doing. On behalf of Malaysian, i hope you can apologized them. I think they know nothing about your journey or your hardship, either living in Vietnam or during your way to Pulau Bidong.

    There are a lot of stories found on the net. It can be good, it can be bad. For every hardship you found during your stay at Pulau Bidong, i hope you have no bad impression about Malaysian at all 🙂

    Please come to Malaysia and i’m sure you’ll find best ever holiday in your life.


  51. Ismail Mohamed Ibrahim said

    I worked in Pulau Bidong & Sungai Besi Transit Camp from 1986-1991 as a Malaysian Red Crescent Society (MRCS) Field Officer under Tracing & Mailing Services (TMS) department.
    I am no longer with MRCS but still a volunteer member.I am a licence Tourist Guide now and if anybody want to revisit Pulau Bidong or the site of Sungai Besi Camp I will facilitate your movement in Malaysia from your arrival at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) travelling to Kuala Terengganu (600km) to enter Pulau Bidong.Transportation is available either saloon car or 10 seater Toyota Hiace van.Email me or send short message (sms) to +60122639408.Thank you very much.
    Ismail Mohamed Ibrahim

  52. Truong Nguyen said

    Toi la Nguyen Truong di tau BI011 den dao khoang thang 6 nam 1980, co’ ai di cu`ng tau hoac muon tam su cung toi ve thoi gian tren dao xin email ve Se hoi am tat ca cac email. Cam on.

  53. Truong Nguyen said

    Hi, my name is Truong Nguyen. I was riding the boat with ID# BI011. We arrived on Pulau Bidong in June 1980. Who rode on the same boat with me or would like to share stories about time on Bidong please email to me Xin chu’ y’ dnguyen_22015 (co’ duoi). Thank you.

  54. tsuga905 said

    We arrived on the Island in late 1978. Our boat number was 221 and the callsign was kg 6066. For the most part it was a fun time, but I was only 6 at the time. However, there were a few incidents that just ingrained in mind for ever. I remember of one such incident was a merchant who went off shore in a tiny boat to meet up with a commercial boat. He never came back and they found his body a few days later.
    Our place was situated on the road that you take the dead to be burried up on the hill. The smell of a body that was in the water for a few days was just horrendous.
    I do recall food and and necessities were very expensive. To this day, I still feel like I have to share a can of pop everytime I open one. I also recall that there was food rations was given out by the Red Cross. It came in a bag and consisted of a bag of rice, 3 cans of food(peas, chicken, beef, or sardine.), tea, and orange crystal mix.

  55. Linh Nguyen said

    I arrived Pulau Bidong in 1988 , MC126, I remember the time I spent in Pulau Bidong, and Batan, I hope that I will hear from some friend of mine, Thai Cam Phat, Nguyen Ngoc Linh (Canada), Vinh, Luu, Toan , Tam ( The last time I heard Tam lives in MD), Xuan ( we went to school together in VN, Minh khai & Nguyen Viet Hong), Phi , Ngoc ( last time in Moon Head , Colorado)
    My contact:

  56. BN said


    So nice to encounter with your website along with lots people, mostly offspring’s of the folks who arrived at PB during 1978-79.
    I was one among them.

    Out boat number was TV (Tra Vinh) 75, with 52 people on board, arrived PB in Oct. 1978.

    I was fortunate to have the opportunity to take lots of pictures around the PB before leaving it in April of 1979.

    I was the one who wrote “Thank you” letter to the [Doctors de sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders)] when the medical ship first came to treat refugees/patients; and I was invited to have lunch with the doctors and crew.

    Subsequently, I was invited to speak at various places, churches in the US to solicit sponsors for refugees. I still have lost of memories about the days that I lived there.

    I have lost almost all contact with people in my boat and all people which I met at PB.

    Say hello to your parents and best wishes to your endeavor.



  57. My Huynh said

    Thanks for creating this. I was actually looking to go back and visit Palau Bidong and doing some research to come across this site. My parents were there in early 1978. I was born in June of 1978 there and we left a month later so our parents were not there at the same time. Though we did grow up in AL and it’s possible they knew each other. Which city in AL was your family in?

    Your story sounds just like what my parents have told me as well. It’s amazing and wonderful how they have lived to tell their stories because my mom told me many boat people did not make it for various reasons.

  58. Hong Nguyen said

    Hi all

    My dad (phuong) is looking for a friend name Ly Boi Nguyen who went on the boat MB 075 to Palau Bidong in 1983. They have stayed in the same refugee and my dad would love to get into contact with this person.He is currently living in the USA, however I am not sure what state it is. If anyone know this person can they please email

  59. Hong Nguyen said

    Sorry I have made an error in relation to boat number MB 027 not MB 075. Please if anyone know him or heard of him can someone please email me it would be much appreciated.

    I am planning to go to USA next year and I am hoping to get in contact with him and an aunty name Tuyet which is my god mother. I have not met her. I was born in Palau Bidong in 1985, however I would love to meet her.

    can anyone help me where I can advertised to look people in USA???

  60. lolothithi said

    Dear Pulaubidongers,

    You may be interested in this web site :

    Cheers !
    Dieu Loc

    (a Pulaubidonger who spent about 8 months from December 1978 up to August 1979, and living currently in Paris / France)

  61. Hong Nguyen said

    thanks dieu loc for letting us know

  62. Hong Nguyen said

    My dad name is tam Phuong n lived in vietnam at xa tan trach huyen can duoc tinh long an.. He arrived in Malaysia (puala bidong) in 1983 MB 027.. My grandpa name vo dien and grandma nguyen thi no..My dad is looking for all his cousin in USA name Vo Thi Thuy.. Does anyone know them?? Please email me tuyethong85@ n it would be much appreciate if anyone know Ly boi Nguyen or anyone on tha…t boat!!!
    my mom is khuyen Pham lived in Vietnam at tinh dong nai.. She had arrived in Malaysia (puala bidong) 1984 MB 023 went with her sister (tiem n husband Xuyen n daughter Duyen) n brother (tam) n looking for their friends during that time..

    I am tuyet hong which was born in 1985 and would like to know my god mother tuyet and want to get I’m contact…

    Can anyone help me where I can advertise to search and my message across.. Is there any other sites around???

    Thank you everyoneSee More

  63. Francis Trinh said

    Hi, My name was Trinh Chan Khuong on the Island Pulau Bidong. My boat was KG-1033, arriving in Malaysia in 1978. I don’t remember my boat number but it was way before it reached 100. Believe it or not, I was a Truong Ban Thu Tin (leader of the postal section) who handled your mails from 1978 til 1980. We also organized News Broadcasting and music entertain for you with friends in the Island. One of the lead guitar Hoang Hoang is now my brother in law. I remembered Hoang Thi Thao, Le Thu, Ngoc Minh were all in the camp with us. I ate many of the breads from the baker. My name is Francis X. Trinh now and I live in Northern Virginia in the Washington D.C. area. Anyone please feel free to contact me. I hope someone can host a website of facebook so that we all can organize an event or reunion again. Much love to you all. Please take care. My e-mail address:

  64. Tran said

    Hi, My sister name is Lu, Thuan Y she was escaped from vietnam through to My Tho – Rach Gia can’t remember in 1978 or 1979. boat #144 her boat was sink at Soc Trang. My mom and myself when to Soc Trang looking for her 2 days and 3 nights. We went to one of the islands that had found 20 bodies and none of them was her. If someone was on that boat with her please email me or reply here.

  65. Nguyen van Vinh said

    I was in Pulau Bidong between January and May 1980 (came to PB on the Black Gold and leaving on a different boat). Boat number MN 522 and my boat was the 512th that arrived in PB. I am looking for Monika Schmitt (spelling?) who was working for Dr. Richard (Radiologist) at Sick Bay. Monika was the radiology technologist who specialize in tuberculosis (TB). I volunteered to work for her along with Dr. Tien (vietnamese anh Tie^’n), Duc’, Hung (?) whom Monika found him holding a German book received from his sister in Switzerland getting off the boat at Jetty Bay’ (of course she “adopted” him on the spot), Mai and ??? (Mai’s little brother).
    Looking back, we got so much help from these unselfish and kind people. What would we be without their help ? I also acknowledging the help from UNHCR. Without their help and diplomatic skills to get around the suppliers of our food (remember Ga\, Ca’, Da^.u and rotten rice bags etc.) to address the skimming off the food paid by the UNHCR and the abuse by the Malaysian Marines/Guard ……
    I remember occasionally Monika would give me a list of a refugee to have the PA call to the Sick Bay. When they show up, she would give each person a can of milk powder. She worked tirelessly to ensure that all refugees got the lungs x-ray to screen for TB in a timely manner in case they get chosen to go to the third country without further delay. I often see her doing x-ray without the protective vest because it is quite heavy and at times very cumbersome on special cases. I would say Monica was Mother Theresa of PB.

    I need your help to contact Monika Schmitt to properly thank her for helping us. I would love to take her to VN for a tour one on these days.
    I can be reached at:


    P.S. remember the excitement hearing that your name on “the list” and the traditional “party” before leaving PB while Bien Nho is playing?
    Remember the bus ride to Kuala Lumpur scare to death because of the hilly roads and the driver sits on the left side of the bus ?

  66. Andrew said

    Wow all these stories of others epic journey’s are very moving. I hope we can somehow meet up and share our stories sometime!

  67. Chi said

    Hi Andrew: This is Chi. How’s everyone?
    “I was on Pulau Bidong Refugee Camp from around September 1978 – September 1979 (boat # 132 from Tra-Vinh). My house was also by the helicopter pad, Section F. I have a photo (in front of our house) very similar to your parents’ photo and I would be happy to share with you and others. Your parents look very familiar to me.”

  68. Anna Bui said

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful story, and set up this blog. I was arrived may 23, 1979 on Pulau Tengah boat VT 268.
    I have begun creating a comprehensive web site which consolidates information about Refugees and Camps in SE Asia. The site will be created by and for refugees. Please email me at with your boat number, date arrival. I am working on the website, and have begun to visit refugee camp sites. With your help, we will be online soon.
    Thank you.
    Anna Bui

  69. Quyen said

    First of all, thank you Andrew for creating this blog. Our boat was not so lucky to arrive in Malaysia or Indonesia instead we landed in Thailand. After 7 days of being rob and on the last day the pirates even took our engine. We would have all died (59 people) if weren’t for the kindness of one fishermen who was half Thai and half Viet. Our boat was HG3944, the owner was Mr. Hy (chu 7) his wife Lan. I was around 5 and remembered we lived in Songkla, then Morong Bataan (dung 9) in 1981. Looking for anybody that knew our family, please feel free to contact me My heart and prayers go out to all family members and Victims who never reach the shore of freedom.

    • Francis Trinh said


      I am glad you survived. We left with 3 other boats in 1978. Two sank. One was robbed by pirates and more than 100 were thrown into the water. 27 survived. My friend was among the survivors. I am Francis Trinh in Virginia. Please feel free to contact me @

  70. connie said

    Hi, I wish I know what boat I was in. I arrived to the island in Jan 1979 with my older brother 14 and younger sister 8. I was only 11 yr old at the time. Somehow, I missed this place so much. I hope I will save enough money to go back and visit one day. I don’t remember anyone’s name there. We were there only for 8 months because we were minors and have priority to leave the island quicker than most of the others.

  71. Anna Bui said

    I will visit Budong in Mar 14, 2012 Mr Rosli who worked as an MRCS employee on the island. he has been willingly to assist many former boatpeople to return to Pulau Bidong.I do not know about this island, he will be outr tour guy, show me what ever left of the camp. After that we will be in Songkhla refugee camp. When we get back 21, everything will be update in the Please email me with your info, so I can complete the archive of our refugee camps. See the web site you can see my intention. My email is in contact section at the web site

  72. Hi,
    There is information about the coming trip to Pulau Bidong:
    – Lộ trình 2: đi Bidong, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) từ 26-5-2012 đến 3-6-2012.
    You may learn more about it at:

  73. Hong Nguyen said

    HI everyone
    I am helping my aunty Vo Thi Thuy to look for her friend Ho Van Thien, lost contact after living bidong. He is currently living in Holland. If anyone know him please email me
    Thank you so much. Much appreciated

  74. kim said

    @nguyenthu + thong
    Thong said
    May 10, 2011 @ 9:38 pm
    Doc phan tin cua Thu, co the la tau DN0388, toi di chuyen nay roi Vung Tau truoc Tet ta, den Terrenganu tam goi la chuong heo/bo, rat ban thiu toi phai ra cong don dep ve sinh, voi nuoc chay nho giot, lay can 2 lit ma hung de tam rua, trai co khoang 4-500 nguoi song chen chuc, moi ngay Hoi Luoi Liem Ma Lai cung cap do an trong bao ny long. Den Terrenganu khoang thang 1, qua dao ngay 16 thang Hai, 1979. Neu Thu di cung chuyen thi rat may man lien lac lai duoc voi nhau cung vui.
    Tren chuyen tau co 1 chau be sinh ra tren tau, den bo duoc dua denbenh vien ngay de kham suc khoe….
    O Dao Bidong, toi lam Khoi Xay cat, sua chua Jetty, gan Be Chua Nuoc bang Sat mau den ngay bai truoc va bat dau xay dung Sick Bay cung voi cac nha thau Malai. Toi roi Bidong dau thang 7 qua Trai chuyen tiep 2 tuan va den Uc/melb 26 July 1979.
    Co ai cung tau DN0388 xin lien lac…

    nguyen thu said
    April 4, 2011 @ 9:49 pm
    I left VN & came to Malai as boat people at the end of 1978,. First the Malaysians put us in trai tam in Kulua Terrenganu for 1 months, then shifted us to Bidong, left Bidong in March of 1979, I was only 14 yrs old. Stayed at ‘Trai Chuyen Tiep” o “Kulua Lampur, truoc khi qua Canada in May 1979. Our boat left Vung Tau, gap song gio qua lai Vung Tau and stayed there for 1 month in the Hotel o Bai Truoc. We left ‘voi dien: Ban Chinh Thuc. So tau bat dau voi hai chu: DN…so thi quen roi. Co ai nho khong? Tui day nho nhung nam thang do lam lam. Khong bao gio quen duoc.
    Tôi cũng đi bán chính thức từ VT cuối năm 1978, gặp sóng to phải về lại VT chờ 1 tháng. Tháng 1 1979 đến Terrenganu, sau đó đến PB.
    Tên tầu tôi là VT??. Đi cùng tầu có đám con hiệu bánh Givral.

  75. Meng said

    Dear Reader,

    I am looking for a friend who used to lived in this camp too. His name is Tran Phon Vu, in fact he was born in this camp in year 1989. His mother name is Tran Thi Thuong. If you know these persons I would like to hear from you. Much appreciated.

  76. Thuy said

    @Truyen (MB075)
    Hi Truyen,

    Khong biet em con nho chi khong? Chi la Thuy (PB715) co em gai cung ten Truyen la ban voi em luc o Bidong. Di Ba la me chi. Nho email lai cho chi at Em gai chi muon lien lac voi em.

    Take care,

    Thuy Nguyen

  77. Thuy said

    There are lots of pictures taken on Bidong (mostly) on flickr. com. Search “diligram_te”. The owner of these photos used to work as a social worker around 1984 thru 1986. Think you will enjoy them. Bring back lots of memories.

  78. duyencao said

    toi ten duyen di tau mc270 o bidong nam 88 89 tim ban ten dinh ngoc khai di dinh cu o nauy

  79. Trường trình: Quảng Yên Nguyễn Công Bằng
    Hình ảnh: Tập thể VBTD10

    Không kể số lượng người di tản vào thời điểm trước và sau biến cố 30/4/1975, tài liệu của Cao Uỷ ghi nhận có 849.228 người bỏ nước vượt thoát chế độ Cộng sản đã đến các trại tỵ nạn ở 9 nước trong vùng Đông Nam Á. Không ai biết chính xác bao nhiêu ngàn người đã bỏ mình trên đường tìm tự do xuyên qua biển Đông Việt Nam hay các vùng rừng núi Campuchia. Sự hy sinh của những thuyền nhân xấu số đang bị phai nhòa theo thời gian nhưng chắc chắn lịch sử đã ghi nhận mất mát to lớn đó như là một minh chứng hùng hồn nhất cho giá trị của hai chữ TỰ DO ở cuối thế kỷ 20.

    Trong hơn ba thập niên qua, nhiều cuốn sách, đoạn phim, câu chuyện đã thể hiện phần nào bao thảm cảnh xảy ra đối với người vượt biển, vượt biên… song lịch sử nhân loại sẽ không thể nào ghi lại hết được những khổ đau, mất mát kinh khiếp đã diễn ra trong nhiều hoàn cảnh khác nhau.

    Chỉ riêng tại Mã Lai Á và Nam Dương, hàng ngàn xác người bất hạnh bỏ mình khi tàu đến bờ biển và bị giông gió đánh chìm, hay bị tử vong khi tàu bị kéo ra biển khơi. Tại Mã Lai Á, vì lý do phong tục và tôn giáo, xác của các thuyền nhân xấu số đã được vớt lên và mai táng chung trong các nghĩa trang người Hoa ở địa phương. Trong đó có rất nhiều ngôi mộ tập thể.

    (Từ trái) Mộ tập thể chôn 139 thuyền nhân (MT065), và mộ tập thể chôn 137 thuyền nhân (MT065)

    Hai ngôi mộ tập thể lớn nhất ở tiểu bang Terengganu (Mã Lai Á) chôn tổng cộng 276 xác thuyền nhân. Một đặc điểm cần ghi nhận là mộ tập thể từ vài ba người lên đến 139 người (mộ tập thể Cherang Ruku, tiểu bang Kelantan) chỉ có thể tìm thấy tại Mã Lai Á. Tại Phi Luật Tân, Nam Dương và Thái Lan, người ta không tìm thấy dấu vết của bất cứ một ngôi mộ tập thể nào; song điều đó không có nghĩa là không có nhiều người chết trong cùng một vụ đắm tàu.

    Hình ảnh một số trong hàng ngàn ngôi mộ đang bị hư hoại

    Trên một số hòn đảo từng là bến bờ tự do như đảo Bidong hay quần đảo Anambas… hàng ngàn người bất hạnh khác đã gửi xương cốt vĩnh viễn. Do không có người chăm sóc hàng năm, các nghĩa trang trở nên hoang tàn, nhiều tấm bia đơn sơ đã bị đổ nát, phần lớn các ngôi mộ đấp đất sơ sài đã bị mưa gió soi mòn sau nhiều năm không được chăm sóc.

    Trước cảnh tượng đau lòng này, kể từ năm 2005, Văn khố Thuyền Nhân Việt Nam (VKTNVN) cố gắng vận động sự yểm trợ của đồng hương khắp nơi để trùng tu mộ phần thuyền nhân trong các nghĩa trang trên đất liền tại Malaysia.

    Một số các nghĩa trang đã được VKTNVN trùng tu trong đất liền Malaysia.

    Sau 6 năm với nhiều cố gắng vượt bực và sự đóng góp của đồng bào hải ngoại, chương trình đã trùng tu, lập bia cho hơn 500 mộ trên đất liền (nơi mai táng tổng cộng hơn 1.000 thuyền nhân xấu số). Chương trình cũng đã tìm kiếm được hàng ngàn ngôi mộ khác ở Nam Dương, Mã Lai Á, Phi Luật Tân, v.v…

    Theo dự trù, trong thời gian từ năm 2012 đến năm 2015, VKTNVN sẽ trùng tu lớn cho ngôi mộ tập thể 46 người ở Balai Bachok, và gây quỹ trùng tu nghĩa trang vùng Anambas (khoảng 300 mộ), ở đảo Bidong (khoảng 270 mộ), đảo Galang (503 mộ) và khu vực trại tỵ nạn Bataan ở Phi Luật Tân (khoảng 300 mộ). Năm 2015 sẽ trùng tu những mộ phần mới tìm thấy ở Thailand, Hong Kong hoặc những nơi chưa hoàn tất kịp trước đó.

    Trong chuyến “Về Bến Tự Do 10” được tổ chức từ ngày 12/5 – 2/6/2012, gần 40 cựu thuyền nhân đã có dịp trở lại đảo Galang và Bidong. Mục đích của chuyến đi là tạo điều kiện cho các thuyền nhân thăm viếng nơi chốn đặt những bước chân tự do đầu tiên sau hành trình vượt thoát chế độ CSVN; đồng thời nghiên cứu phương thức trùng tu ngôi mộ các thuyền nhân bất hạnh đã gửi xương cốt lại vĩnh viễn trên các hòn đảo hoang vắng.

    Theo sự tổng hợp thông tin từ hồ sơ của Cao Ủy Tỵ Nạn LHQ, Pulau Bidong là chốn tạm dung của hơn 242 ngàn người tỵ nạn từ năm 1978-1991; trong đó có 433 thuyền nhân đã từ trần và phần lớn được chôn tại đảo. Các ngôi mộ được tập trung ở bốn nghĩa trang ở Khu C, E, F và G.

    Khác với mộ phần các thuyền nhân được chôn ở nghĩa trang Galang ở Nam Dương (là nơi được chăm sóc thường xuyên bởi chính quyền bản xứ) mộ phần thuyền nhân ở các nghĩa trang trên đảo Bidong đang đối diện với nguy cơ bị hư hoại nghiêm trọng (vì cho đến nay Bidong vẫn là một đảo không có người định cư).

    Hiện tình các nghĩa trang ở Bidong vào tháng 5/2012 được ghi nhận như sau:

    – Nghĩa trang Khu C: Gồm 7 ngôi mộ đắp xi-măng, đã bị nứt nẻ nhiều và hư hoại nặng.

    – Nghĩa trang Khu G: Vừa được tìm thấy trên đồi (tại khu bồn nước khu G) gồm 86 mộ đắp bằng đất với đá tảng chất vòng chung quanh mỗi mộ.

    – Nghĩa trang Khu E: Gồm 15 mộ (do Liên đoàn Phật tử Khuôn Việt lập) được xây sơ sài bằng xi-măng, mai táng ở vùng đất trũng thấp, đang bị hư hoại nặng.

    – Nghĩa trang Khu F: Là nghĩa trang lớn nhất, gồm 159 mộ (theo nội dung ghi trên tấm bia bằng xi-măng), hầu hết chỉ có một tấm bia mộ đúc bằng xi măng và phần lớn đang trong tình trạng hư hoại nặng nề.

    Nhìn chung, đại đa số các ngôi mộ đều đang trong tình trạng bị bể nứt, các bia bị nứt, gãy, đổ… toàn bộ mộ phần luôn bị cây rừng và cỏ dại mọc lấn tràn lên các mộ.

    Nhu cầu trước mắt cho việc trùng tu ở nghĩa trang Galang là sửa chữa những ngôi mộ đã bị hư hoại, kể cả bia mộ. Do phần lớn mộ được xây bằng xi-măng, việc quét vôi lại toàn bộ để xóa bớt đi dấu vết tàn phá của thời gian cũng là một việc cần thực hiện – nếu như ngân quỹ cho phép. Hy vọng là các thuyền nhân từng ở Galang sẽ gây quỹ hoặc ủng hộ VKTNVN trùng tu khu nghĩa trang này.

    Riêng ở đảo Bidong, nhu cầu lớn nhất là lập bia mộ (theo mẫu ở các nghĩa trang đã được VKTNVN trùng tu) để ghi lại thông tin chính xác của từng ngôi mộ; và tìm cách ngăn chận cây rừng, cỏ dại lấn phá các ngôi mộ trong lâu dài. Với hoàn cảnh không thể có điều kiện chăm sóc thường xuyên cho các nghĩa trang ở Bidong, việc trùng tu và có phương cách bảo vệ sự hư hoại bởi thiên nhiên là một thách thức lớn. Dự án này đòi hỏi một ngân sách hàng trăm ngàn mỹ kim, và sự đóng góp công sức của nhiều người. Với con số gần 250 ngàn người vốn đã từng tạm dung ở đảo này, việc góp sức chăm sóc cho hơn 200 ngôi mộ sẽ không phải là một trở ngại nếu như chương trình này nhận được sự quan tâm, ủng hộ của 10% cựu thuyền nhân Bidong.

    Về cơ sở vật chất, tất cả đang bị hư hoại nặng nề và có lẽ không tồn tại được thêm bao lâu nữa nếu như không có được một kế hoạch trùng tu đúng mức.

    Hiện nay, những khu cư trú ngày nào của 242 ngàn thuyền nhân hầu như đã bị hư hoại hoàn toàn và tất cả đều đã trở thành khu rừng với dầy đặc cây cỏ như chưa từng có người sinh sống qua ở đó.

    Di tích còn nhìn thấy được là ở Khu Đồi Tôn Giáo. Cánh Buồm Tự Do là công trình còn đứng vững tương đối tốt nhất.

    Tượng Ông Già Bidong, Nhà thờ Công giáo, Chùa Từ Bi, Văn phòng Cao Ủy ở Bidong (5/2012)

    Tượng Ông Già Bidong, nơi tôn thờ cầu nguyện của hàng trăm ngàn người mỗi khi đi phỏng vấn hay hồ sơ định cư bị khó khăn, hiện đang sụp đổ. Mảnh lưng rớt ra. Tượng Ông Già và Cô Cháu Gái gẫy làm hai và rớt xuống vì khung sắt đã bị mục nát. Hai cơ sở đang trên đà sập đổ là Nhà Thờ Công Giáo và Chùa Từ Bi. Nhà thờ Tin Lành và Cao Đài đã bị sập và mất dấu hoàn toàn. Các căn nhà của Cao Ủy LHQ chỉ còn lại khung sườn và những mái che đã bị mất nhiều phần. Những ai đã từng một lần trở lại thăm viếng các nghĩa trang thuyền nhân đều không khỏi chạnh lòng và cảm thấy rõ ràng món nợ tình nghĩa chưa thanh thỏa xong với những người bạn đồng hành, đồng cảnh ngày nào.

    Công trình mới nhất được xây dựng ở Bidong là cây cầu Jetty, do chính phủ Mã Lai xây dựng với ngân sách 1 triệu Mã kim (RM).


    May mắn thoát khỏi chế độ độc tài Cộng sản chỉ là bước đầu. Đến được bến bờ tự do là may mắn kế tiếp. Có được đi định cư ở nước thứ ba hay không là một may mắn khác. Và trong quá trình đó, hàng trăm ngàn người bất hạnh đã bỏ mình trên đường vượt thoát hoặc chết tức tưởi ngay trước khi được có cái diễm phúc đặt chân lên bờ bến tự do.

    Con số trên một triệu người tiếp tục liều chết tìm tự do trong suốt hai thập niên đã đánh thức lương tâm nhân loại, và trở thành yếu tố thúc đẩy sự thành hình các chương trình định cư nhân đạo dành cho những người có thân nhân ở nước ngoài (ODP), hay đã từng bị tù đày, ngược đãi (H.O.).

    Lời tuyên bố của ông Trần Đông: “Quyết không để cho một ngôi mộ nào sẽ chịu cảnh mồ siêu mả lạc…” chứa đựng đầy ắp tâm huyết đáng trân trọng song cũng hứa hẹn nhiều thử thách. Với con số hàng ngàn ngôi mộ cần sửa chữa, hàng ngàn tấm bia cần được thành hình, hàng chục nghĩa trang cần được khai hoang, ngăn chận cây rừng, cỏ dại lấn che… thực tế chắc chắn không đơn giản chỉ đòi hỏi một quyết tâm của người chủ xướng. Chương trình trùng tu hàng ngàn mộ phần thuyền nhân còn lại ở Mã Lai Á, Nam Dương, Phi Luật Tân, Hồng Kông, Thái Lan… cần sự đóng góp nhiệt tình của nhiều nguời để có được một ngân sách khả thi cho dự án.

    Một vài bài viết tả thực về hiện tình các nghĩa trang hoang tàn chắc chắn không thể nói lên hết được nhu cầu trùng tu cần có. Những lời kêu gọi dù có hay cách mấy cũng không thể thành hình được ngay ngân quỹ phải có cho dự án… Nguyện ước ý nghĩa này chỉ có thể trở thành hiện thực khi nhận được sự quan tâm, ủng hộ của nhiều người có lòng. Hy vọng sao sự đóng góp của nhiều người sẽ tạo đủ ngân quỹ để những thuyền nhân bất hạnh sớm thoát khỏi cảnh “mồ xiêu mả lạc”.

    Người viết thành khẩn cầu nguyện hương hồn những đồng bào xấu số đang gửi nắm xương tàn tại các nghĩa trang hoang vu hãy phò trợ cho nỗ lực của Văn khố Thuyền Nhân Việt Nam nhận được sự ủng hộ nhiệt tình của những người hảo tâm ở khắp nơi, đặc biệt là những người đã từng là Thuyền Nhân hay là thân nhân của những nguời đã được may mắn định cư ở nước thứ ba bằng con đường vượt biển.

    Xin cảm ơn ông Trần Đông cùng các đồng hương nhiệt tâm đã khởi xướng các chương trình về lại chốn xưa và tạo điều kiện cho những người hảo tâm có cơ hội chia sẻ phần nào với những người bạn vượt biển bất hạnh.

    Kính mời đồng bào xem thêm thông tin ở mạng: và ủng hộ cho các chương trình gây quỹ của Văn Khố Thuyền Nhân Việt Nam.

    Chân thành chia sẻ.

    Tường trình tại Kulua Lumpur ngày 2/6/2012

    Quảng Yên Nguyễn Công Bằng

    Thuyền nhân Pulau Bidong (78-79)

  80. Nghia Ma said


    It is good to see this blog and even better to know you and your family from Camau. I am from Camau as well and am as old as your parents, we were at Pulau Bidong from Dec-78 to Oct-79, our boat number is 213. I just moved to Bay areas and live in Sunnyvale. If we have a chance I am more than happy to meet up with you and your family.

  81. Le Xuan Khoa said

    Your family came to Pulau Bidong around the same time we did. We were on the boat #214, HG-606. I arrived to this island right after Xmas of 1978 with my parents, sister and uncle. After being locked up on the mainland of Malaysia for a week. We were there for 8 months then moved on to Michigan. My dad recently passed away in a traffic accident. I want to travel back in time to find something to connect with my dad one more time. I had many good memories of that island. I hope some days to visit the island with my son who is only 9 right now.

    Thank you for this blog!

  82. Kim said

    Hi! Your family was at Pulau Bidong the same time as my mom and her family. She has recently been trying to find a friend of hers. My mom said that she and her friend worked as social workers on the camp. Maybe your parents know/knew of them? My mom’s name at the time was Dieu Tuyet Trinh (she is from Vinh chau, boat # CAT 2051) and the friend she has been searching for is Nam Phuong Nguyen. They were sponsored by a Catholic Church in MA in 1981 and eventually moved to CA.

  83. Kim said

    She says her friend moved to Northern California. please email her:

  84. DC Nguyen said

    My boat was ST 386 # 108. We landed in another isle and was transferred there. We were also assigned to section F. Those of us who were poor and could not bribe to stay in section A upon arrival were exiled to section F then. In 1978-79, section F remained “unexplored” wild wild island mountain top. We actually lived at the top of the hill just before the downsloping to the beach. I think now that all of us who went through the journey are very proud of what we have survived, conquered, and achieved.

  85. Nghia said

    Anybody from boat 451 (SG1169)?

  86. LR said

    Anybody out there from boat MT065 (1978) I am looking for missing brother & cousin. Anybody out there heard or saw anything about MT065 would be very appreciated!

  87. Hi,
    I visited two mass graves of MT065 in Malaysia last May (2012). The total bodies found and buried was 170. I do have a list of unfortunate people.
    Please contact me at for more information.

    • LR said

      1st, thank you for replying & very glad to hear from you!!

      So, are you one of the survivor from MT065 or a relative of MT065?

      Looking forward to hear from you again!

      • No, I am not a survivor of MT065. I am helping the Vietnamese Boat People Archive ( There was a survivor of the boat accompanied us to visit the mass grave where 3 of her children buried.
        Can you read Vietnamese?
        Send me an email so I could send you the picture of the mass graves.

    • LR said

      You stated in your previous mail that you have the list of the unfortunate people. Did you mean the names of the 123 people already on the tombstones?

      I have seen the pictures of the graves! Anyway, thank you very much!

  88. LR said

    Is anybody out there from MT065, 1978?

  89. KHAI DINH said

    Đọc những lời tâm sự, thật cảm động vô cùng. Gia đình chúng tôi đi tàu SS0448 (PB15), đến đảo 15/09/1978, rời đảo 6/5/1979. hiện cư ngụ tại Fairfax, Virginia…Hy vọng có ngày được gặp lại tất cả các thuyền nhân cùng đảo, để ôn lại kỷ niệm khó quên, và cho con cháu hậu sinh hiểu được giá trị của 2 chữ “tự do”…

    • Francis Trinh said

      Hi, Khai Dinh. My name is Francis Xavier Trinh. I went to Pulau Bidong in 1978 and left in 1980. I now live in Fairfax, Virginia. My e-mail address is

  90. nguyen said

    My name is Nguyen Hoang I went to Pulau Bidong in may 1980 on the boat DN0734CA

  91. Daniel Ma said

    Thanks for sharing your story. It was very touching. My name is Daniel Ma (Kim Ho Ma). I was 4 yrs old when my family landed in Bidong Island in 1978. Parents name were Hiep Ma (Father) and Lang Trinh (Mother). Hope to connect with other Bidong refugees.


  92. Ricky said

    Wow! My hearts still skipped several beats thinking about this. I was too young to remember much, but our family of 11 all had lived their for more then a year before we were sponsored. I remember, sharing an entire 8oz can of peas with the entire family daily, remember my parents has to exchange their belongings for food. I kinda remember my older brother and uncle which was maybe around 15 at the time going into the forest and dragged back tree branches to build our home from ground up. I remember my younger brother and I had to sneak under the loading dock on the beach to find rice grains, one at a time to feed our family of 11. Just to share little about our similar stories… Take care!

  93. Laura Ngoc said

    Hi. My name is Bich Ngoc. My family was on the island 1978-1979. I am interested in reconnecting to learn more. I was 8 years old at the time, the oldest of 4 children. My youngest brother was born in the US, thus, I have 4 siblings. I often remember the cakes made using can peas. I think about it all the time, year after year. I will be ever so grateful if someone can post the recipe. I want to make it to remember the past, what we went through to be where we are today. I live in San Jose California now.

  94. Nguyen thi hoang yen said

    Toi rat vui khi nhin thay lai nhung cau chuyen o bidong ,toi vao trai 1985 so tau BM153 ,o dao duoc 1 thang roi sang ma lai ,va ko bao lau thi di sang phi ,rat hy vong tim lai nhung nguoi ban , do la nhung thoi khac ma ky niem ko the nao chung ta quen duoc .neu ai biet minh xin goi email ….nguyenyen0904@

  95. Trung Manh Nguyen said

    I was also born in Pulau Bidong on August 1979.. My parents don’t really like to talk about it too much but after reading some of the stories and experiences from this website last week, I had to find out more about my family’s history. What i found out was my family (mom, dad and uncle) had arrived in April 1979 on boat (Minh Hai MH 290-299) and had left the island sometime in November 1979. We ended up in Winnipeg, MB Canada. The names of my family are Phuoc Van Nguyen, My Duong, Thuan Duong ..

  96. Văn said

    Tình cờ vào đây thấy lại những tên quen thuộc một thời của năm 1978 -1979 Pulau Bidong , các anh chị Tr Hướng Đạo trên đảo nếu còn sống mình có thể nối lại vòng tay thân aí xưa – nơi trại tỵ nạn ” Buồn Lâu Bi Đát ” một từ ” lóng” lúc ấy hay dùng cho những người ở lại lâu , cũng muốn liên lạc với anh Bác Sĩ Phan Thượng Hải tàu VT 1186 cùng tất cả anh chị em các Chú , Bác trên chuyến tàu này vào đảo Pulau Bidong tháng 10 năm 1978 ( chuyến tàu này dựng ngôi nhà thờ trên ” Đồi Tôn Giáo ” đầu tiên bằng cây trên đồi cao chặt về ). vui lòng liên lạc : , rất hân hạnh liên lạc được với các bạn cùng quí vị .

  97. Tu-Anh said

    My name is Tu-Anh, our family of 8 arrived in November of 1980. My parents do not recall our boat number but we left from An Giang. We stayed on the island until May 1981 and now reside in Chicago. My father Vien Thanh Nguyen is looking for a friend by the name of Huynh Ngoc An whom left the island at the same time. He had two sons with him, one of which my Mother Hong sewed pants for. The last contact we had he was residing in Nevada.
    Thank you for buying my brother new shoes for his journey. If you know of Huynh Ngoc An or you are Huynh Ngoc An, please contact me.

    I’ve relyed on stories from my parents and uncles who have more memories of the experience since I was only 3 at the time. Some stories were sad yet some were of happy moments. Till today I am still amazed by the strength and determination that my parents had for leaving Vietnam in order to provide their children with a better life. At times I am overwhelmed with emotions when I think of all that they have lived through. Our only mementos are identification photos taken on the island and a green towel used to wrap my one month old naked brother when we arrived on the island.

  98. Normally I do not learn article on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to check out and do so! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thank you, quite great post.

  99. htien60 said

    My family arrived in 1978 with a big family and extended family. We must have had close to 320 people on the boat. We left everything in My Tho. My father bought the boat with 2 other owners and used the funds to pay off local officials who are probably extremely wealthy now! Our boat name MT 120 was under my father’s name (Minh Tien)….it’s different from my vantage point since I was in the captain deck during the entire trip but it was quite terrifying especially we encountered a major storm and had to turn back. We would have surely perished had we continued instead of turning back. It took another 6 months to refuel and pay off more officials before we could leave the country a second time. How many people have a second opportunity at life? My name is Hung Nick Tien. I can be reached @ Anyone know my father, please let me know as I would like to reconnect with people who knew my father. I don’t know too much about my father’s life since he passed away many years ago and I would love to know the ordeal everyone on the boat went through. My memories of my father was that he was a great provider for the family and always put his family first. I wish that i could be as generous as my father was.

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  101. Le Farris said

    Very glad to have found this site. It has now been 33 years since our family left Pulau Bidong. We arrived in May 1979 on Boat # SB 018. I was 2 and my brother was 14 months. My parents have always told us stories of being at the refugee camp. We were finally sponsored to Canada in May 1980 by a church family in Camrose, Alberta. I still get tidbits of stories from my parents and would really like to write it all down some day. I only have 2 memories. One waking up and my mom asking me what I wanted for breakfast and secondly, right before we left for Canada, taking a couple of pictures in the park as me and my brother were running around. Many similar stories as all that I have read above. If anyone knows of anyone from Boat #SB 018….would love to hear from you! My father’s name is To Duong and Mom’s name is Nhi Nu Duong

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  124. Ryo Yamada said

    Dear Sir / Madam,

    Please click on the link below to view some pictures which was taken on Pulau Bidong’s Refugees Camp between 1989 – 1991.

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    Ryo Yamada

  125. Vu Thai Hoa said

    My name is Vũ Thái Hòa, arrived at Pulau Bidong (khu C – behind lò bánh mì) in late 1980 and left after Tết 1981 as 12 years old kid. I do not remember my boat number, however, I won the under 17 chinese chess tournament during Tết (Tiểu Kỳ Vương). Stayed on the island less than 3 months and l look for my friend Sơn (schoolmate in VN) and Xuân (at transition camp near Kuala Lumpur).

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  127. My name is Trinh Vo Khe. Our boat MH-0020 arrived Bidong(Zone F) on June-24-1979. During the time at Bidong (1979-1981), I worked as an interpreter for The US delegation and Band leader of the Chinese Musical Group. I desperately wanting to re connect with all my friends who work with me or know me during the Bidong times to recollect all the good old memories. My contact email is

  128. quang said

    Chat tat ca,
    Toi ten quang, PB611 ( so tau SS0429 ). Neu co ai trong PB611, xin lien lac

    Cam on

  129. Ch Vu said

    That is great to found this site. Our boat was numbered MC376, after landing Kelantan shore 04/01/1989. We spent 3 yrs at there before being transferred to Sungai Besi Transit camp @ Kuala Lumpur 1992.

  130. Nga Van said

    In 1986 my uncle Van Tich Duc, 17 years old, also escaped from Vietnam and went to the Pulau Bidong refugee camp. However, we haven’t seen him since.

    We’re currently trying to find him, and if you know anything about him or talked to him please email me at

  131. Phung To said

    I’m looking for my uncles and aunt. They left da nang in May or June of 1980 on a boat of 51 passengers. We have not yet heard from them. Please help. Their names are de ky to, Loi dat to and Ngoc bao Ly. Thanks please contact me at phungkto@

  132. Chau Chi Chau said

    I am also a refugee at Pulau Bidong ,I got there in September of 1980 and my boat # was AZ1571 . The hide out location before we got on the boat to escape Vietnam was Long Xuyen. If anybody is recognized this bit of information please contact me for further verification. Thanks

  133. Chau Chi Quyen said

    Correction form previous posting… Name is Chau Chi Quyen , Chau Chi and Quach Nu. Boat # was AZ1570

  134. Thanh said

    Hello all,
    Thanks for creating this blog. I really appreciate it.
    Tau tui la PB651 ra di tu my tho den Bidong July 1982. Tui bay gio dang o Toronto Canada. Neu ban nao di cung tau voi tui va moun tam su sao hon 30 nam o hai ngoai thi lien lac voi tui. Email la

    Thank you

  135. long phan said

    minh ten la long phan, dang o texas. long va ba cua long vuoc bien va thang 10 1980 tai rach gia toiPaulo bidong o khu ( C) gan dai thong tin van hoa. long co doc qua news cua cac ban post len. chi Helen pham khong biet co o trong tau chung voi long hay k?

  136. Van Chau said

    I’m 1 of the refugee on the island in1984 of mar after I watched the Video and many refugee story I fell very emotional , and yes , if I have a chance to do this over again I would,

  137. Liz said

    Hi–don’t know what leads I will find but my mom who was a refugee from Vietnam is looking for her childhood best friend–her name is Nguyen Thi Anh, and I believe she left Vietnam and arrived in Pulau Bidong in 1978. Nguyen Thi Anh was born in Kien Giang and went to Thanh Binh (school). My mom believes she now lives in NZ. If anyone has any leads, I would be very very grateful! Please email

  138. HP Boe said

    Hi, nice to have discovered this site. I have read all the stories since 2009 posted here, today, and memories come back. I was, at the tender age of 27, in charge of the ICM/IOM operation in KL in ’77-’79 – we processed and moved most of you – and I visited PB and the other camps in Malaysia quite a few times, often with our doctors and x-ray people – never mind the transit centers in Cheras and Cherating (KL). I will never forget it – and neither your faces at the airport in KL on departure(!).

    Anyhow, since so many of you are using this nice blog for tracing of neighbours and friends, let me ask ANYONE FROM VN-KG 0313 ADC – which stranded near Kuantan, I think, in 1979 to contact me with their story? I have a memento I’d like to pass on to them

    Thanks, and keep it up,

    Best regards
    HP Boe

  139. kenny giang said

    cua ganh hao thuoc huyen gia rai tinh minh hai bay gio la thi tran ganh hao huyen dong hai tinh bac lieu . toi roi ganh hao tren tau MH3727 den palau bidong ngay 17/7/1981 tau PB312 , qua bataan Philippine 2/1982 dinh cu usa 6/1982

  140. tyler do said

    chuc cho tat ca ai da den dao duoc binh yen hanh phuc trong cuoc song
    wishes to all the people came to the island have peaceful happy life
    I was there in 1979-1982 PB311 Do phi Ho and Do phi Hung we were kids at that time
    by the way love the story

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  143. Duc Thoi said

    Hi Andrew…I am so appreciative to have the opportunity to read through everyone’s posts. There is a strong emotional connection that I feel as memories and images come flooding back. Although I was only 7 years old when I arrived to the island in 1978, I have fond memories of my 3 siblings and I “playing” in our small shack with a tarp roof each day through 1980 when we were sponsored to America. The details that you have outlined are very intriguing to me. We too lived near the helicopter pad and my mom, Muoi Thoi sold bread on the beach each day to support the 5 of us. If your dad was the baker, perhaps he and your mother remember my mom? She may have purchased the bread from him and then walked along the beach to sell for a small profit. I distinctly remember the day that a bread oven was built out of a big metal barrel in a home close to ours. My mom passed away over 20 years ago, and I only have a few photos of us in the island that she brought to the USA. Ask your mom & dad if they remember my mom, Muoi Thoi, and her 4 children (3 boys and 1 girl). I would love to have the opportunity to exchange information and see if we can make a connection. With appreciation, Duc Thoi

  144. もっと said

    アンチさんは知らないだろうけど「目黒ゆう」って名前の役を演じてる カラコンに見えるとかバカッター高校生並の馬鹿まるだし
    このアバターはカラコンなんかよりレントゲン写真の方がみんなの注目浴びると思うよ つけてるって言いたいんだったら、 弁当箱もステンレスや(・∀・)
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  145. Dawn said

    Are any of you who have a family history with Bidong located in the KL area? I below to a culture group and it would be nice to arrange a talk for our members to learn about your history.

  146. 次のページ

    The Vietnamese Boat People – Pulau Bidong during 1978-1979 | The “Boat People” – Pulau Bidong Refugee Camp

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  153. Adriana said

    Hi, I’m Adriana from Malaysia. Glad to know that most of the refugees had new life and tried reconnecting each other.
    I suggest that you create a facebook page, share each other and even make a paid adverstisement to find the long lost friends lived during the Pulau Bidong refugees camp years. And can event set a date to come together to the Island for gathering. Goodluck 🙂

  154. Lynne Tran said

    My family and I stayed on the island from October 1978 till April 1079. Our boat was a big one (# fifty something). What I remembered the most was the pristine beaches at the back of the island. So beautiful and untouched that I thought the dinosaurs would just walked out from the forest full of strange plants. We, the refugees probably ended up destroying that.

    • Francis Trinh said

      Lynne Tran, your comment cracked me up. I was on Pulau Bidong Island too from 78 to 80. Yes, the beaches on thte island were very pristine and beautiful. I can never forget then even after so many years. Yes, we the refugees subsequently detroyed the forrest before I left for resettlement in America. However, I am sure that the plants of the forrest has been growing back to the way it was. No worry. Take care.

      • Quang Do said

        Quang here ( PB611 ) 5/82 – 1/83. I do miss the beach and clear water.

        On 6/23/14, The Boat People – Pulau Bidong Refugee Camp

  155. Quang said

    Anyone from PB611? quang here

  156. sam said

    great job on the article.

  157. http://Casey.Zendesk.Com/Entries/49876560-21St-Birthday-Suggestions-For-Women

    The Vietnamese Boat People – Pulau Bidong during 1978-1979 | The “Boat People” – Pulau Bidong Refugee Camp

  158. Nghiã said

    Phạm Đức Nghiã PB316 tháng 7/ 1981 rời trại tháng 8/1981 hiện đang ở Michigan lien lạc Trưởng ban văn nghệ caủ trại lúc đó.


    The Vietnamese Boat People – Pulau Bidong during 1978-1979 | The “Boat People” – Pulau Bidong Refugee Camp

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  161. Kim Lam said

    My boat was # 57, I was about 13 years old, we lived behind Thanh Tuyen club house near cenmetery. I would like to be your family’s friend, since your boat’s number was very near together, we must have something in common. Best wishes to you!

    Sincerely yours,

  162. Kim Lam said

    Hi everyone!
    Please contact me if you use to lived near Thanh Tuyen Quan ca phe in Bidong around late 1978 to March 1979. There was a family of 4 went to Australia that I have lost contact. Thanks.
    Kim Lam

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  165. sandy chan said

    Hi Andrew,

    Great story! Your descriptions of the place brought back many memories for me. I came across this website tonight because my daughter asked about my days on the island for her school assignment this very evening. Strangely enough, I was sharing my story with a co-worker this afternoon. Crazy coincidences.

    I was around 9 when we lived on Bi Dong. We also came from Ca Mau (boat #90, I believe). I was just telling my husband about the one baker on the island at the time before coming across your story. It must have been your dad. Wow! Another strange coincidence.

    Anyway, I read all the English posts and I am glad to see so many people willingly sharing their experiences. My parents and relatives never really talked about the ordeals they went through and I don’t remember much as I was only a child. However, the one vivid memory I still have of the place is that of climbing the hill/steps to go up the temple with my aunt and while looking across the ocean, we saw a boat capsized before our very own eyes. We never talked about it but I still remember seeing (sharks/killer whales?) circling the boat before it went down. I can’t forget the images of people literally jumping off their boat and trying to swim to land. I don’t know if anyone survived.

    One thing for sure for those of us who made the journey and landed on our feet. We are survivors!!! Our experiences helped build our characters and taught us not to take life for granted.

    Thank you everyone for sharing your experiences. I hope to see the older generation talk more of what they went through before they passed on. These are our stories and we should be proud of them.


  166. thai tinh said

    Any one from mb585 or lived in the longhouse nearest to the incinerator
    in zone f in late 1986 to 1987?

    Pls email to catch up.

  167. Frank Hoang Trieu said

    Hi, I was on Bidong in 1979,
    boat number 159, VT-714
    Thank you for this

  168. Phuong said

    Den Pulau Bidong khoang thang Sau nam 1980 , Tau cua (Ong Nam map) Gia Dinh dinh cu tai Thuy Si ? Tau khoi hanh tai Saigon ra Cua Dai Ngai Soc Trang , bi cong An bat lai nho tien hoi lo cong An moi cho di tiep. Toi ten Phuong (lai Tau) va nguoi ban la Nam nguoi Hoa nghe noi dinh cu o Sweden ? voi may dua em . co ai cung chung chuyen Tau hay biet xin lien lac ..hien dang song tai My.

    Tau cho theo khoang tren 50 chuc nguoi

  169. said

    Hi Everyone,
    Kim chào các Anh Chị. We arrived on Pulau Bidong late of 1978 and left early 1979 to US. My boat was # 57 from Rach Gia #0602. We lived in Khu “F”, right behind Quán cà phê Thanh Tuyền, at the bottom of the hill near the cemetery. I used to walk up the hill and across the little road to buy fresh hot Bánh mì ổ every morning, I wasn’t sure if that was your family, Andrew? I remembered the first water well was dug near the waterfront and the water was not drinkable!
    I am looking for my neighbors who used to live near and around us but unfortunately I don’t know their names. ( I was about 13 years old when I was there ).
    I am glad that today I found Andrew’s article and all your stories. It makes me appreciate life even more. We all have been through a long journey and it made each of us special and strong.
    Wish you all are in good health and happiness!

  170. songcailon said

    Hi all the boat friends
    My name Thanh i arrived PB 1/11/1980 and lived there for 5 months, my boat number KG00292TH, KT961, departed at Rach Gia at the end of Oct 1980 after 5 days and 3 times robbed by the Thai’s fisherman, we arrived at Kouta Bahru and transit to PB. I lived at ” lo bun ” khu G, looking for all the friends on the same boat. Now i live in Australia.
    My email All the best.

  171. Thuy Tran said

    My Name is Thuy Tran and lived in this PB 1978. Im looking for a friend name Tuong (don’t know his last name). Please contact me at

  172. Long said

    My name is Long, I arrived 1980 boat number PB 201.
    I’m living in US now.

  173. Ky Ho said

    All, do you know there is a Face Book group?

    The people posted there appear to have been at Bidong somewhat later. I was also there from October 1978 to July 1979. One of 200 people to have gone on to the UK. I was 13 at the time, my memory is not great. My boat was VT 204, we merged with VT 306 (I think) along the way. I am visiting Bidong on 25th June for the first time. Will feel strange.

    I love the photo as it is how I remembered it, no corrugated iron sheets as other pictures show. Such luxury eh :-).

  174. Phuong Ngo said

    Hi Khai Dinh..Gia dinh chung toi cung di tau SS0448, den PB 15/9/78 va roi dao dinh cu cung ngay 6/5/79..Mong duoc lien lac lai de cung on co tri tan (email :

  175. Nguyen said

    My name is Nguyen
    I arrived in PB in May 1980, my boat number is DN0734CA
    when I were in PB, I lived in the zone F from May 1980 to December 1980
    Our boat have departed at Vungtau and we arrived at kuala terrenganu before arriving in PB
    I now live in France

  176. arthur said

    Please send an email to if anyone recognize the info. Thanks!

  177. arthur said

    PB 1981; Boat#: DN 1635; 73 people; lived in Section B.

    Please send an email to if anyone recognize the info. Thanks!

  178. timconhan said

    @Thu + @Thong: hinh nhu toi cung di tau nay. Chu tau nguoi hoa, chi co con gai, 3 co thi phai ?

  179. Binh Truong said

    Tôi tên Trương Thanh Bình và hai anh họ của tôi tên Nguyễn Văn Thi và Trần Đức Đại (3 cô nhi) đến đảo khoảng ngày 10/09/1985. Số tàu MB417. Nhân kỷ niệm 30 năm viễn xứ, nếu có ai đi cùng tàu xin email Cảm ơn.

  180. Huong said

    My name is huong (aka hen). I was there in late October 1981. I was 10 years old. Boat #401 lived in section c and then moved to d. It is so touching from reading all the comments.

  181. Binh Huynh said

    Anybody there from october to november 1984? MH 0541

  182. tung ba ngo tau PB 551 den pulao bidong 1981 o khu b gan san chieu frim sau do sang sungai besi khu b sau do sang philipine qua my 1984 mong lien lac lai tat ca cac ban 704 840 4461

  183. Ann Tran said

    My name is Ngoc Anh (Ann). I was there Oct. – July 1978. I was 8 yrs old when I left Bidong in July 1978 to Houston, TX. It was an emotional ordeal for all of us. Thank you for sharing. I like to connect. My email address is

  184. Minh Tran said

    Thanks for sharing your story, which is very similar to my family. We are also from Ca Mau and stayed in PB from April 1978 to May 1979. My parents along with the five kids from ages 15-2 escaped from Vietnam, leaving behind everything including ice factory (Nha Mai Binh Minh) and rice mill next to the “iron bridge” in Ca Mau. So I am pretty sure our parents know each other.
    I can still vividly remember being in the hull of the boat in total darkness, overcame by strong black tar smell of the boat, sea sickness, loud cries, and strong wave of typhoon season. I have fond memories of food rations, swimming at the beach, and playing soccer with barefoot in the hot sand.

    My mom also had to sell her wedding ring and jewellery to buy supplies and shelter. She made fish sauce from the extra left over fishes and sold it for profit to feed the five kids.
    We arrived in Spokane, WA on June 30th, 1979 with $285 dollars and I was only 10, so your story does bring back lots of memories. My dad and mom went from very successful business owners to a welder and a nursing home cook to support the family. The whole experience was a priceless lesson from me and my siblings….the sacrifices that my parents made along with many other parents as part of the boat people generation really toughened and taught us not to take anything for granted.
    We all managed to adapt and all graduated from UW or WSU. Then my parent relocated to Seattle in 1995 to join the rest of the kids.

    As for me and my family have relocated to Singapore for work at the beginning at 2015 and will be here at least until end of 2017. We will definitely plan take our four kids to visit PB and Vietnam in the near future. We are only 15 minutes from the Johor Bahru checkpoint of Malaysia/Singapore.
    Thanks again for the great story and evoking my fond memories of PB!!
    Please let us know if your family or parents are planning to visit Singapore and you can contact us at

  185. Megan said

    Hello, I came across your story when I was researching online about boat people. I was about 3 years old in 1978 when I stayed in the same camp as your parents. My family of 5 all survived the incredible hardship. In fact, our family became 6 when my mother gave birth to my youngest sister in October of 1979. We also resettled in the Bay Area. Please respond to this email and I would be happy to share more. Thank you.

  186. binhtrinh said

    I happen to stumble to this site. Sorry i can’t remember exactly who was the doctor at the time. My boat#87 came to Pulau Bidong on October 18,1978.I was also a refugee in district F by an air field helicopter.
    I can suggest one of the doctors so your parents could recall. His name is Doctor Nguyen Nhu Dong who resettled in USA but I don’t know his address.
    Good luck

  187. Connie nguy said

    Does anyone know who I can contact to obtain my refugee records from Pulau Bidong? I believed they take a picture of each refugee for the record. I would love to get a hold of that picture of me and my siblings.

    I was only 10 yr old, arrived to Pulau Bidong sometimes late 1978 or early 1979 with my little sister who was 8 yr old and my older brother who was 13yrs old. We don’t have any of the documents from back then. We were too young then. We live in section B.

    As I was reading through everyone’s story, it sounds so real because I lived through it. The packed basement like sardines, the rock throwing, jumping off the boat and wade our ways to the shore, the daily bag of food, going up to hills for wood, the beautiful beaches, the stinky yacky hills with poops, etc….

    Please contact me if you know how I can get a hold of my refugee records.

  188. A. Chan said

    Tran Khanh Dan: boat number 81 (Tau VT-001) from Vung Tau Oct 17, 1978. Thanks for the memory.

  189. BT said

    if you live in section B I believe your boat number was around 70.

  190. Anh kent said

    My family of 10 was on boat MH0020 landed on beach F in June 1979. Our 2 levels house was side to side with a bread baker’s family in Section B. This spot was where the biggest mango trees grew on the island. My mother sold gums, candies, and cigarettes in front of our house. Opposite from front of our house was some one frying sesame round pitas ‘banh tieu’ and ‘Youtiao (油条), also known as Chinese fried dough or Chinese crullers, is a breakfast favorite in China. The Cantonese dialect has an even better name: yàuhjagwái (油炸鬼). Later on they also sold ‘banh bia’. I believe my family left Bidong for camp Teranganu around Aug 1980. Then we arrived in Houston, Texas in Nov 1980 and stayed here to this day. Thanks to Chinese-Vietnamese family that acquainted my parents and sponsored us to over here. They were original owner of famous Pho Tau Bay restaurant on Bellaire Blvd. Any one wants to share old Bidong pictures ?

  191. Megan said

    Was anyone on Boat BF297 in 1978? My dad said we were on this ship for about 5 days and 4 nights before our ship crashed into a big rock during a storm. He said that the month was probably in August. I was only 3 years old.

  192. Yenha said

    Hello there, my boat was VT333. I arrived in October 1978 and left BiDong April 1979. Here is my recount at BiDong:

  193. Lien Cuong (khén) said

    I and my husband also leave from “Ganh Hao” shortly after Trung Thu 1978 , arrived on Bidong oOctober boat # 62 MH3208. On November 14th our first baby was born in Bidong, we didnt have doctor in the camp, we got help from Midwife Mã Ngoc Phuong , who is also refugee . We come to us September 1979, our daughter is PA now in Minnesota.
    If anybody know Mã Ngoc Phuong lease let us know, we would like to contact she as well.
    My husband bought goods then sell to others resale in the market in the Camp. We come from BacLieu.
    We dont have any picture in the camp.

  194. Danny Tran said

    Hello everyone
    My name is Danny Tran I’m living in bidong February 1979 my boat number is
    I really want to go back to visit pulau bidong now I lived in New York i want to make friends with anyone live in bidong in the past so hopefully the next tourist we can be together to visit pulau Bidong.
    Bi dong noi bao nguoi len
    Bi dong nghe sao chiu men
    Bi dong khong lam U phien
    Bi dong lam sao ta quen

  195. Quan Pham said

    Hi everyone. I was on the island from 78 to 79. I was only 7/8 at the time. My uncle was studying to be a priest while on the island and left in 79 to France. His name is Ha Quang Minh.
    The rest of our family went to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada in September 79. I’ll track down my boat # from my uncle and would love to connect with anyone on the island. I am now living in Fort Worth Texas.
    My name is Quan Pham and I was born in Tan Hiep.

    • Francis Trinh said

      Quan, My name is Francis Trinh (Originally Trinh Chan Khuong). I was on Pulau Bidong from 78-80 and I was baptized on the Island and changed my name to Francis. You can write to me

  196. Francis Trinh said

    Ladies and Gentlemen, My name is Francis Trinh. I was on Pulau Bidong from 78-80 and I was in charge to distribute refugee mails and parcels on the island. It is fascinating to see so many people trying to trace back the old memory. Anyone wishes to contact me please write to me

    I live in Virginia.

  197. Hao Pengshung said

    My parents, uncle, 1 year old brother and I (2 1/2 year old at the time) arrived at the refugee camp on Sep 26, 1978. Boat name was SS-0548-IA. Eight months later we were in Portland, Oregon.

  198. David Stewart said

    Enjoyed readinh uour story. I was a sailor on the USS John Young (DD973). In late 1980, we rescued some 200 boat people. I would like to know what happened to them. If you know of other websites that helps connect to boat people, please let me know. I can probably dig up some photos I took if anyone is interested.

    • Ron said

      Hello David Steward,
      Very nice story, if you want to connect to Vietnamese boat people who arrived to Pulau Bidong refugees camp, you can go on Facebook group “Pulau Bidong Alumi” we are over 3200 people.


  199. Luu Vinh Thai said

    Toi ten la Thai . Toi den dao man 1983 so tau la PB 670 toi di cung cau , di , duong va em gai cua toi . luc ay toi chua duoc 13 tuoi . Tau roi VN gom co khoang tat ca 43 / 44 nguoi ?

  200. Lisa Cheung said

    This is incredible. I’m 22 years old and my mother’s entire family were refugees in Pulau Bidong in 1979. They finally were sponsored and left for the United States in 1980. They had the same exact story as your parents, thought your story is much more vivid. I’m still trying to piece together my stories. I would love to connect with you, if possible! I’m only beginning to learn more about my parent’s history and making it a part of my own. I think these are lessons that we should preserve and learn from!

  201. Steve Tran said

    I am 43 now and was part of the Pulau BiDong refugees. My boat TV 148. I don’t remember much as I was so young, but thanks to all of you for sharing your story!

  202. Bình tran said

    We was there in 1978
    My father was a captain on the boat to there
    I was only 14yrs old I am now 52
    Our boat is had 76 people on board is took us 3 days to go through the ocean to Malaysia
    Our boat number is # 7 -kg0270 we stay at section B
    When we first arrived there only server hundred people
    I do have alot of memory there and fixing to go back to see all the memory that we had left there
    Thanks to the Malaysia government people and the islands
    that had saved us and the other To help us to go to better life I know that island like the back of my hand

  203. Elli said

    Hello my fellow boat people,

    This blog is so great. It brings back lots of small memories for me. I was only 7-8 then.
    I’m trying to find more information on the daily life of our boat people on this island from jan-july 1979..
    From shelter to food to entertainment and any fond memories in between you like to share. I would love to gather a collection.

    Was there a Pho stand yet?
    I remembered water was obtained from a waterfall, not sure if there was a well yet or the water from the well was undrinkable.
    I know about the food ration, but was it weekly or daily dellivery?
    Any great recipes from these food cans?…someone mentioned making cakes from can peas.

    Thank you so much for your time.
    Best regards,

    • Quan Pham said

      Hey Elli. I was on the island from April to August 1979. I was 7-8 at the time as well. My uncle was one of the priests there. Our boat had 39 passengers onboard. My uncle told me we sold logs for money. Water and ration was dispense every 2 weeks. We were in camp D. Wish I had more memories from the island. Where did you guys end up after you left the island?

  204. Elli said

    Hi Quan,
    I live in Cali now. Where are you?
    Do you remember how much things cost, like how much money did you make by selling logs?
    I remembered eating bread and butter, but I haven’t read anywhere of anyone recalling that.
    I heard that fishing was illegal. Is that true?
    Was food dispense per person or per family?
    Thank you for replying,

    • thanh cao said

      I can’t remember the price of the bread but i can tell you fishing from land is ok but some of the boat people make their own boat (under 3 mt long) and bring the excess rice (supplied) to the Malaysian fishing boat exchange for fish and one day their boat turned over and some one drown after that accident the fishing by boat is prohibited. The supplies from the UHNCR is count per head that why we have a lot more rice than we need lead to the boat accident above. Thanks

    • Quan Pham said

      Hi Elli. We were sponsered into Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. But I now live in Fort Worth, Texas. I’m also trying to find out more about life on the island and meet up with anyone who was there. I work for American Airlines, so I travel a lot and I try to meet other Vietnamese at the airport. Which part of Cali are you in? There are a lot of Vietnamese in Cali. Shoot me an email…

  205. Rong Vo said

    Hello Andrew Ngo
    You should connect on facebook and ask to join this group “Pulau Bidong Alumi” there is a lot of Vietnamese Boat People who lived on Bidong, with pictures its easier to re connect.
    Whats your personal facebook page?

    Ron Vo

  206. Victor said

    Hi Andrew – Awesome story. Just FYI: My parents also arrived at Pulau Bidong in 1978. I was actually born in Sept 1979 there as well. Finally, we went to states in Feb 1980. Currently, we are living in the Bay Area as well.

    Funny, because my parents told me that they had to sink their boat in order for them to get into the camp. Definitely have some correlation to your story.


  207. Ntt68 said

    Great story, I was also child in 1979, we left VN from Rach Gia on boat KG0793 in April/May. We arrived in Terenganu, spend there 1-2 weeks, they transferred us to Marang and finally sent us back to the sea. We finally reached Tioman (small village/beach with a 3-4 houses. I’m looking a blogger called Minh, his comments let me think that he should be on the same boat ( Please let me know if anybody known him.

  208. Luong said

    I found this blog by accident while researching what Paula bidong looks like today. I was there late @aug 1978-July 1979. I was only @7 at that time. My sister recalls our boat# to be 296. Actually our boat never made it to shore. We had a small leak in our boat with maybe 100 or so people on it. We were stranded in the vast ocean for 2 days before a us navy ship rescued us. I can only vaguely remember our escape from Vietnam. I think we were the earlier settlers, maybe 2nd set of settlers, in Puala Bidong. However I can vividly remember the time I spent at the beach with my siblings and going up to the forest to help chop woods. I also can recall vividly that 2 giant sea turtles were on either side of our boat…perhaps protecting us. I am very grateful and thankful to the us navy men who helped to bring us ashore, and given us 7-up 😄. Although it was a tremendous hardship for my parents, puala bidong holds somewhat of a fond memory for me as I spent @year just swimming and kicking around the beach. However I will never forget the ordeal my family went through in escaping Vietnam. My dad and mom are my heroes…I am forever indebted to them – for giving me the opportunity to have a better life in America.

  209. Tamela said

    Hello my fellow “Boat People”! Thanks for sharing your stories! I feel connected with each and everyone of you. We arrive at Pulau Bidong October 17, 1978. My father’s boat # was VT0001. If sounds familiar, please please please reply back to Love to share more memories.

  210. My Duong said

    What a beautiful story. I’m glad that o came across this. My family were Vietnam refugees as well. They weren’t on the island of Pulau Bidong, but they was on the Island of Pulau Tengah. I don’t know much other then the stories that were told to me. I was born in the refugee camp on August 25, 1979. My eldest brother once told me there was another lady that gave birth to a boy in the next camp. I was also told that day there was a huge storm. My mother said there was a man who was trying to purchase me and she she kept refusing him. She was afraid that in the middle of the night that he would snatch me. She and a good friend (whom I believe she met at the camp) put a string and took turns watching over me. Again don’t know much and would love to know more. Both my parents and my eldest brother has past on and my other older siblings had some stories, but not much.

  211. My Duong said

    Also my dad was mostly gone, because he was a captain/co-captain of a boat. We were sponsored by the Canadian church and arrived in Canada in May 1980.

    • Francis Trinh said

      My-Duong, I have no idea how your parents think. I was at Pulau Bidong from 1978-1980. I thought that I’ve wasted 5 years of my life in the communist country of VN and the refugee journey initially. After all these years as I look back, life is a miracle and full of blessings. Without that 5 years of loss, I would not have been so thankful every day in my life today. I do not want my children to forget where I was coming from. It is a journey that very worthy to remember.

      • myduong79 said

        Francis Trinh, I have no idea what you mean by “what my parents think”. If you are trying to insult them about not giving much details the time they spent at the refugee camp, you’re wrong. My parents did tell me stories. Where they are from and what they went through. Good for that you want your children to know where you’re from, and so did my parents. So get off your high horse and get all your facts straight.

        • Francis Trinh said

          My Duong, please don’t be so sensitive. I have no intention to insult any body, not just your parents. If you feel it that way, please let me apologize.

          Perception is a very powerful thing. Your parent may think the Pulau Bidong has been a hardship in their lives. If they overlook that hardship, it is truly a great blessings. Just look at you, all the Pulau Bidong is well worth it, isn’t it? As I have often said to my friends, “Life without struggling is totally meaningless.” I don’t dwell on hardship and struggling but I welcome it. It is because of hardship and struggling that I understand hope. It is because of hardship and struggling that we celebrate and cherish.


  212. Don said


    I think three boats left Ganh Hao (Bac Lieu) not Ca Mao that night.
    Two of the three arrived in Terengganu about three and four days later and was transferred to Bidong the next day. Your parent’s boat was the last of the three to arrived at Bidong. I think that what happened =). I still remember your dad’s bread, it was very good! BTW my boat was the first to arrived. MH0270 #90.

  213. Don said


    I’ve read your story again and I just realized that your parent’s boat was one of the two that arrived in Terengganu. yes, I can still remember that morning when I saw your parent’s boat arrived. Do they know anything about the other boat?

  214. Dung said

    I was there in 1981. Boat DN1635. Please be friends with Johnny Vball on fb. Thanks!

  215. Ntt68 said

    I was on boat KG0783 deparing from Rach Gia, we arrived first at Terrenganu. After a few weeks, we were transferred to a refugee camp at Marang. But a few days later, we were sent back on our boat to the sea. We finally reach Tioman after 2-3 days at sea. I’ve found someone called Minh which was on the same boat but unfortenately the blog is not active anyre ( Is there a way to contact the blogger ?

  216. Francis Trinh said

    On April, 2017, Quan Pham from Fort Worth, TX, whom I met through this website a year ealier, came to visit me in Washington D.C. We met face to face for the first time. We went to lunch, dinner, shooting range, pictures in Washington D.C., believe it or not, we even went to a Holy Mass together. We share many stories about Pulau Bidong. It turned out that his uncle was my teacher at one point.
    Meeting Quan is like rediscover of a long lost friend. It is truly a great blessing. I hope that he will come again. I strongly encourage all the friends out there should find the opportunity to meet. It is truly an amazing and humble experience to share stories.
    I hope that MyDuong and her parents would come to visit the Capitol City and allow me be their host too.

    • Quan Pham said

      It was a great honor meeting Francis Trinh in Washington on one of my layovers. Like he said, we shared food, faith, and stories from our pasts, present and future. We became friends because of stories like these.
      We are the last generations of the Boat People so I love meeting people who have shared the same journey.
      I am a pilot for American Airlines and have layovers in all the cities AA fly to. I’d love to meet more people from Bidong or anyone who was a “Boat People” and share stories over some food and drinks.
      And if you want to know anything about flying….. I’m your guy!
      Keep the stories coming!

  217. tom said

    Very interesting blog, thank you for sharing! My in-laws tried fleeing Vietnam (Cholon, Saigon) a number of times before finally making it to Bidong in 1978. I don’t know the month that they arrived nor do I know the boat number. My mother-in-law is Fong Truong and her husband is Van Lee. My mother-in-law was pregnant with her 5th child when they arrived and she subsequently gave birth on the island. The family was sponsored by the Lutheran Church and arrived in the US (New Jersey) in August 1979. Van and Fong worked hard and are now enjoying retirement and their children and grandchildren. The stories of the boat people brings tears to my eyes but they are often stories of incredible strength and courage that should not be forgotten. I’m sure my in-laws would love to hear from others who they’ve lost touch with. If you knew Van or Fong please feel free to email me ( Thanks!

  218. lap said


  219. said


    My name is Hue and I was on that MH0270 #90 boat that left Bac Lieu, Viet Nam on October 1978 and arrived at Terengganu, Malaysia about 2 days later as described in the post above on May 11, 2017 by Don. I do remember there were at least three boats that left together that night and separated at sea.

  220. andrew Luu said

    Hello. I was there as a 10 yr old kid in 79. We were on the VT268 boat as it was not the original boat we escaped in. The KG009 sank deliberately for the merchant ship to rescue us.
    We went Malasia and stay on a soocer field f9r a month. They pulled us out in open sea cramping everyone on the vt268. There headed toward Indonesia. It was a struggle trying not to pass out in the midst of extreme hunger and thirst.
    Let me know if you can share other stories. Thank you.

  221. Mylinh said

    Hello there, my parents were also there. I was born on May 28, 79 female. I was wondering if my mom was the other lady that your mom remembers. Can you ask to see if your mom remembers what time your brother was born? I am trying to find out my birth time. My mom thinks it was before midnight. My mom’s name is KY. She has a mole on her chin. See if this is the lady that your mom remembers. pls email me

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