Day 120: Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

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March 27th 2010
Published: April 1st 2010
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Day 120:Saturday, March 27th, 2010.
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam.

This morning we were up at 7am and on the road at 7:30am. First up was a great bakery, ABC Bakery, and we all grabbed various yummy bread products to go. Then, we were off to the Cu Chi Tunnels. These are the tunnels that were made by the Viet Kong and used during the Vietnam War. I honestly wasn't sure what to expect. I guess I just thought we'd see some old tunnels, some collapsed and move on. They have this area set up as a shrine and while I understand that they were on the other side of the war and are proud of a "victory" (not sure if I should call it that), I was quite disturbed to see the glee with which they demonstrated the various weapons and traps that were used on the US Troops. Yes, they were ingenious (in a horrible way, like all instruments of war), but they didn't need to smile and act out a soldier being hurt/dying with such relish. I really didn't like that. Looking around at other tour groups, they were treating this area like a funny photo op. People were posing and they even had a shooting range where you could shoot some of the guns. To me, this should have been a somber (sacred in their eyes) place and some respect for the dead on each side would have been nice. However, this is my first encounter with the other side of an American War- I have no doubt my own patriotism is clouding my judgment.

On that fun note, we finished at the tunnels and on the way back into Saigon, we stopped at a shop where they make vases, pictures, tables, etc and decorate them with mother of pearl or eggshellls, etc. Very pretty designs and items, but I didn't have the urge to buy. After that, I was the only one of the 12 who hadn't seen (or wanted to see) the Reunification Palace so the bus dropped me off there and the rest went off to lunch. It didn't take that long to walk thru. I tried to listen to the local tour guide but I was able to understand every tenth word of his "English" so I just walked thru on my own. So, probably missed some things but it was still interesting to see that history.

I walked the few blocks to my hotel and rested for about an hour before it was time for our next bit of fun- cyclo tours around District 1. We each hopped onto this "reverse tricycle" bike contraption and some poor guy pedaled us around. First up was the War Remnants Museum. This museum had artifacts and many pictures of the Vietnam War and what it did to the Vietnamese people. And, I have to say, when I type "what it did" I mean "what America did." I can't really type what I feel after seeing all the pictures because it would be too unpatriotic. But we did wrong. Big time. Outside the museum were many different types of American planes and tanks, so I snapped a lot of shots of those just for you John & Tackett!

We hopped back on our cyclos and were taken to the Saigon Notre Dame Basilica which is one of the very few Catholic churches in Ho Chi Minh City (only about 10%!o(MISSING)f the population is Catholic.) It was very nice and gave me a chance to light another candle for Dad- something I hadn't done in a while. We then walked across the street
View from Rex HotelView from Rex HotelView from Rex Hotel

On the left is City Hall.
the Central Post Office- what a gorgeous building! After that, back on the cyclo, past the Reunification Palace, past the Opera House and the Town Hall. We stopped around the corner from there at the Rex Hotel and went up to their rooftop deck. It was nice (I liked the Sheraton better) and we had a drink before dinner. After that, we went to the marketplace and had dinner at one of the stands there. The food, once again, was amazing- just wondering how long 'til my stomach informs me that it doesn't appreciate this type of food. Also, today was "Earth Hour" and Bao had bought us candles to light for the "blackout hour". However, we seemed to be the only ones that partook because no other lights were dimmed but the one above our table. Oh well, we tried.

After that, back to the hotel to pack. Before we had left that evening, Tini and myself had told the front desk that whenever we turned the bathroom sink on, there was a pretty good size leak that would flood the floor. When we got to our room that night, the phone rang and it was the front desk asking if we wanted to move to another room. Considering we were leaving the next morning and our stuff was everywhere, no, we don't want to move. Tini went into the bathroom to do her thing and turned on the water in the sink. Then she let out a yell of surprise and turned the water off. They had completely removed the pipes for the sink (except for the one which brought water in obviously). The U-Bend and all was completely gone, they had decided to not tell us about it though. So, we washed our hands/spit out toothpaste in the tub. Fun! Speaking of the tub, I cannot wait to get used to not opening my mouth in the shower- evil water, evil evil evil. Anyway, packed up and went to bed.

Additional photos below
Photos: 70, Displayed: 26


13th April 2010

You decided to vacuum all the tunnels?
Put some dried squid in the "turret thingy" and see how far it goes.

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