SE Asia holiday blog 4 - Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Due to internet connection issues and the site giving me grief I decided to wait until I was home before I posted blogs for the rest of my SE Asia trip. Following my stay in Kuala Lumpur I headed for Vietnam. Here's the pics from Ho Chi Minh City.
Hope you enjoy.
Ho Chi Minh City - also known as Saigon, from my hotel window. I can’t imagine a musical called Miss Ho Chi Minh City being successful!
HCM City has a population of 6 million and there’s 4 million motorbikes! This was taken on a Saturday when the roads are quieter! Crossing the roads is actually easier during the week as the traffic is so heavy it moves more slowly.
If you can negotiate the busy streets safely there’s plenty of sightseeing in HCM City. This is Notre Dame Cathedral.
A municipal building
Old and new mingle together in District One which is the centre of the city.
The Re-unification palace
Two museums are dedicated to the “American” War as it’s known in Vietnam. If you ever go there don’t make the same mistake as me. Check museum opening times when planning your stay! Otherwise you may not get into the museums and have to content yourself with looking through the railings!
Captured and abandoned tanks, planes and other weapons are on view outside the museums.
Some large black and white posters on the walls of the museum remind you of the devastation and the human cost of wars. Very poignant
75 kms northwest of Saigon are another reminder of that terrible war - the Cu Chi tunnels. This is a bomb crater in the area which has been described as “the most bombed, shelled, gassed, defoliated, and generally devastated area in the history of warfare”
The tunnels, over 120 kms of them were used as somewhere to live and to hide during combat by VietCong guerillas and their families and were cleverly concealed. Now you see him…..
…now you don’t! The Viet Cong guerillas ability to pop up from nowhere to attack the enemy and then disappear again apparently led one American officer to report that “the Viet Cong are everywhere but we don’t know where they are!”
The opening to this tunnel is only about 12" x 18"
Some of the tunnels have been enlarged to double the original size, and are dimly lit. to allow tourists through. The girl in front of me was half my size and she struggled as we went deeper into the system. One of the stupidest things I’ve ever done! The heat and lack of air down there has to be experienced to understand what it’s like and I would not recommend this part of the trip to anyone who isn’t physically fit, short and skinny!
In the tunnel system there were also hospital areas - (almost needed in my case)...
….kitchen areas, and even workshops where unexploded American shells and bombs were adapted into mines and other explosive devices to be used by the VC…
.. as booby traps and to destroy tanks!
The Ho Chi Minh sandal was made by the VC so it could be worn with the heel at the back or the front. When the ground was covered in ash after foliage had been destroyed footprints could be easily seen. Wearing the sandals back to front meant the enemy didn’t know which way you were going!
Having recovered from the tunnels, tourists can also live fire some of the weaponry used during the war. I couldn’t resist doing my Rambo bit with an M60 machine gun.
As at every tourist attraction the souvenir shop has some weird and wonderful things to part the tourist from their cash and yes that is a cobra in the snake wine! I’ll stick to the Pinot Grigio thanks.
Before leaving Saigon it’s back to what used to be the presidential palace where the war was ended when tank number 843 of the Viet Cong army drove through the gates whereupon the president surrendered.
Time now for me to head back to Bangkok in time for my better half and the kids arriving.
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