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About Lit Phan and Mai Dinh


Lit Phan and his wife, Mai Dinh, have moved into a new home and have become grandparents, with both daughters having children recently. It has been a long, arduous struggle in a new world. Lit grew up about 60 miles from Saigon, Vietnam where he was first a teacher and then worked in a bank. After the Vietnamese war, as he was attempting to flee South Vietnam, he was captured by the Khmer Rouge and placed in a prison camp in Cambodia; he escaped with his son, knowing only that Thailand was to the West. His wife and daughters made their way by boat to Malaysia; all learned some English in the Philippines and eventually were re-united and settled in San Diego, California.

Lit works at Balboa Park in San Diego, achieving success with cactus and succulents before returning to the making of Hon Non Bo and adding bonsai to his skills. He is president of the San Diego Hon Non Bo Association, was instrumental in having a Hon Non Bo donated to Balboa Park, and was a demonstrator at the 1997 Golden State Bonsai Federation convention. He continues to teach Hon Non Bo and is working on a book telling the history, philosophy, and artistic concepts of Hon Non Bo as well as the practical details of making a container, sculpting mountains, and developing plantings.


Photo © Lou Buller
Lit Phan works on a shallow concrete container.
(Mai Dinh didn't want her picture taken)



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