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Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City
May 20th 2008
Published: May 20th 2008
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Mekong river ferry
Man, it is hot…. Remember that phrase from the movie ‘Good morning Vietnam’? And he was not kidding. It is stinking hot and as soon as it starts raining it is like in a sauna. Well, that is Vietnam for you.

Ok, what happened today? It was a great day with plenty of activities and grooming. Vietnam style…. More to that later.

We had a pretty early start this morning with an 8.30am meeting with our guide to go to Long Tan, the famous battle ground. For the Australians anyway where 17 Australians and I New Zealander lost their life’s in August 1966 when they went for a bushwalk and stumbled over a couple off pissed of VC’s. In that one battle, which lasted for 18 hours, Australia had its biggest lost on personal in one day in the entity Vietnam War. Over all Australia lost about 580 men compared to nearly 60.000 Americans…..

Anyway, we had our taxi waiting for us on off we went through the morning peak hour traffic in Saigon. What a mad house. Once you experience the chaos here you know why the Vietnamese in Australia drive like they do. Bikes, buses, cars,
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The Vietnam war memorial
truck all intermingle in one big traffic worm. It is mad.

We had to take a ferry over the Mekong River as well which was an experience. Reminded me of a bad movie script, but this was real.

After a two hour drive we reached the destination. Well, so we thought. What we reached was another tour guide who we had to pay to show us the battle ground as well as all the other related sights. And we needed a special permit to enter the location. Talking about socialism in action - never missing the opportunity to fleece some tourists.

So off we went again in our AC taxi to the first stop, the Long Tan tunnels. Yes, they had them there as well and you have to give it to the Vietnamese; they are crafty little buggers. Because they couldn’t win a conventional war against the big powers they got very creative. They tunneled around in the south of Vietnam like ants. Walking through these tunnels was still a great experience and one has to wonder how it must have felt during the war.

After we finished being rats underground we went to the
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Fighting Vietnam style from the tunnels
next location, the Long Tan Cross and the actual location where the battle happened.

The memorial cross, just called Long Tan Cross is a very simple monument in the middle of a large rubber plantation. But the emotional effect is immense. Just thinking about what had happened here years ago; the pain and agony, the suffering and the loose of human life. And you think about what is still happening in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc etc. It smacks you how stupid humanity is and what this so called great nation US of A has learned from the past.

So Peter, Allan and Michael did a little service to honor the fallen at the cross which was very moving.

After this we continued visiting the old headquarters of the Australian army as well as the air strip. Sorry to say that there is not much left of any of the old buildings.

And that was it. Really nothing big to see and maybe that simplicity make it more moving then anything else. Here in Vietnam you are used to big pompous monuments for the fallen of the Vietnam nation. Too big and just over the top. Or when
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At the Long Tan Cross
you think about that every town in Australia has their monuments and remembrance places. You just get used to it and take it for granted. And then the places of remembering the fallen just turn into big money machines where one can go to play poker machines and get pissed….. Oh well, maybe that is the Australian way to remember the people who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Sometimes simple is better……

After we arrived back in Saigon I took the boys over to the ‘Blind Hand Massage’ place. I had visited them before and they are great. Not only does one get a good massage, but you help the blind people in Vietnam as well to fend for themselves. Better then begging on the streets…..

And now I am sitting here, writing down what happened and then going off to bed. Tomorrow we are off to Mui Ne, a little costal town to the north of Saigon. Not much there really, just sand and water. But I am loving it. Beats the cold in Sydney right now.




Additional photos below
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In the tunnels
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The old HQ
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The old airfield
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The battle filed at Long Tan


20th May 2008

hot hot hot
WTF... its about 35dec and the humidity is around 80%, it rains for about 2 hr in the afternoon and that just makes it worst....
22nd May 2008

Long Tan
Umm, Welf... It wasn't a couple of VC... More like a bloody regiment! Anyway, looks like a lot of fun, I'd choose that over the Gold Coast any day.

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