Ho Chi Minh City: November 25-27 and December 4-8

We are back in the chaos of the city, however, we are enjoying ourselves more this time around due to knowing more of how to navigate through the maze of motorbikes, cars, buses, etc. etc. We have managed to see more of this crazy metropolis this time including the war museum, the Reunification Palace, and a tiny noodle shop that changed the course of the American war called “Pho Binh”. {See special post about Pho Binh}. We also visited the city’s art museum and found an art supply store for Denise.

View ov Ho Chi Mihn City from the Cathedral.

View ov Ho Chi Mihn City from the Cathedral.

 

Typical street in HCMC.

Typical street in HCMC.

 

The paper delivery guy for the art supply store. Everything is transported by motorbike. Cars in Vietnam have a 200% tax and thus very few people own one!

The paper delivery guy for the art supply store. Everything is transported by motorbike. Cars in Vietnam have a 200% tax and thus very few people own one!

The war museum depicted the suffering of the Vietnamese and the Americans through very poignant photos. There was also a great deal of information about the horrible chemical “agent orange” that affected a great many lives.

The Reunification  Palace had a great deal of history associated with both the American and French war. It included floors for welcoming national dignitaries, old dusty tunnels where dusty vintage radio transmitters lie forever in storage, a rooftop nightclub, and living quarters for past presidents.

Old telecommunications equipment with yards of dust.

Old telecommunications equipment with yards of dust.

 

View down the street from the Reunification Palace rooftop.

View down the street from the Reunification Palace rooftop.

 

The room where dignitaries met is frozen in time from the 1960's!

The room where dignitaries met is frozen in time from the 1960’s!

 

Our travel agent and her cute baby!

Our travel agent and her cute baby!

After several days of dodging motorbikes, we went to the Mekong Delta {See post}. Upon return from the Delta we visited the Cambodian Border to renew our visas. This operation took all day even  using a private car with a driver but we did it!

Pete and Denise at the Cambodian Border. We renewed our 3 month visa!

Pete and Denise at the Cambodian Border. We renewed our 3 month visa!

 

The following day, on December 7th, we took a day trip to the Cu Chi tunnels. We used Hoi An private car with driver “Mr. Lap” and left HCMC around 0600, arriving ahead of the tour groups at a portion of the tunnels known at “Ben Duoc” at 0800. These tunnels used to stretch from Saigon to the Cambodian border and today, short sections have been maintained in order to demonstrate the tenacity of the Vietnamese people to survive underground while war raged above ground.

Diagram of the tunnels at the start of the tour.

Diagram of the tunnels at the start of the tour.

We saw some rooms that were used as hospitals, bathing facilities, war planning, and cooking. We crawled through short sections of these tunnels while being careful not to touch the walls for fear of some poisonous insects such as centipedes. It was a very cramped situation and sometimes we had to almost crawl through portions of it. We were told by our guide to keep moving to avoid bats which we saw every few seconds.

This photo demonstrates the narrow nature of the tunnels. In order to enter, one must raise the arms to fit into the entrance. Most of the tunnel was actually enlarged for tourists!

This photo demonstrates the narrow nature of the tunnels. In order to enter, one must raise the arms to fit into the entrance. Most of the tunnel was actually enlarged for tourists!

 

Walking through the enlarged tunnels. It is hard to imagine crawlinng through these if they were any more narrow!

Walking through the enlarged tunnels. It is hard to imagine crawling through these if they were any more narrow!

 

One of the tunnel entrances from under the ground.

One of the tunnel entrances from under the ground.

 

War meeting room of the Viet Cong with mannequins.

War meeting room of the Viet Cong with mannequins.

 

View to the outside for sniper fire from inside of the tunnels.

View to the outside for sniper fire from inside of the tunnels.

 

Sandals used during the American War made from old tires.

Sandals recreated as they were used during the American War. They were made from old tires left behind by the U.S.

 

Mannequins of the Viet Cong.

Mannequins of the Viet Cong

We saw many bomb craters which are now overgrown with small plants and trees. The guide demonstrated some recreated home made traps and weapons made by the Viet Cong to protect the village of Cu Chi. This entire area was totally flattened and denuded of all vegetation during the war. It was hard to imagine the devastation that occurred only 50 years ago. We saw some remnants of the war such as old army jeeps and helicopters.

Painting in the Cu Chi museum depicting the landscape during the war.

Painting in the Cu Chi museum depicting the landscape during the war.

 

An old US army helicoptor rusting in the field at Cu Chi.

An old US army helicoptor rusting in the field at Cu Chi museum.

 

An old army jeep is history rusting away!

An old army jeep is history rusting away!

 

Next, we visited the Ben Douc temple built in 1993 to honor the Vietnamese killed at Cu Chi. Dates on old photos indicated that those honored died from the WWII era through the time of the Cambodian war.

 

Memorial museum.

Ben Douc temple built in 1993.

 

One of the many murrals on the Ben Duoc Temple.

One of the many murals on the Ben Duoc Temple.

 

Some detail on the Ben Duoc temple.

Some detail on the Ben Duoc temple.

Next stop is the town of Kon Tum!

 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Ho Chi Minh City: November 25-27 and December 4-8

  1. Denise and Pete,
    I am enjoying your blog and many adventures! I’ll bet you don’t miss the hustle and bustle of American Christmas shopping! Ugh. 😉 Love you and miss you.

    Lisa

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