Saigon and Mekong Delta

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Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City » District 1
August 11th 2012
Published: August 16th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

Saigon is a big and bustling city, on our first day we visited the Reunification Palace. Although the Communist pamphlet was rather intent on ensuring everyone knew how beautiful and symbolic the building was, it was rather difficult to appreciate since it was designed and built in the 60's. In the afternoon we visitited the War Remnants museum which again is used as a form of propeganda against the Americans and contained perhaps too many gruesome photo's of victims of the bombings (Both Napalm and other chemicals). We decided our knowledge of the war was painfully lacking and after some research realised how hypocritical the museum was since the North Vietnamese regularly forced peasants to fight for them and handcuffed them to guns to ensure they faught to the death.

The next day we went to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels north of the city, where the Viet Cong had based themselves. By the end of the war in 1975 they had dug around 285km of tunnels ranging at depths of 2 to 10m below the ground. Interestingly our guide claimed to be philippino and have fought for the Americans during the war so explained the site from a much less biased angle. We also had the opportunity to crawl (The tunnels had all been built 1.4m high to make it hard for American soldiers to access them) through 100m of tunnel which was a hot, dark and claustrophobic experience. All the entrances were hidden and there was a lot of camoflaged traps displayed which were all home made and pretty vicious looking.

We booked ourselves on a 3 day trip to the Mekong river delta, and visited several small island communities by boat and got to try some of the exotic fruits that they grow and some honey tea and coconut sweets. We spent the evening in Can Tho town, but our hotel wasn't near the centre of town or any tourist restaurants so we had a challenge to order food and resorted to drawing a prawn, before being taken to see their fish tanks to point at what we wanted to eat, the selection was eels, ugliest fish on earth, turtles, toads, and thank god, some shrimps! On the second day we had an early start to visit the morning floating market at Can Tho, where villagers that live in floating houses come from 4am to trade their produce on the river with market traders from the town. In the afternoon we were driven up north to Chau Doc on the Cambodian boarder where we visited a buddhist pagoda on a cliff with great views over the flat delta landscape. Day 3 started well with a trip in a small boat to visit a floating fish farming village, where each of the houses floats on the river and has a large net beneath it with hundreds of fish in it. We also visited a small Cham village and saw a woman weaving their traditional scarves and sarongs. The afternoon was stressful as the hotel/guide put our luggage on the wrong bus back to Saigon and Jonny had to get on a moto to chase across town to retrieve it, and then after a long hot bus back to Can Tho our connecting tour bus had left without us! It was a relief to get back to Saigon, although another long bus journey awaited the next day, to get to Phnom Pehn in Cambodia.

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