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Published: March 17th 2011
Friday 4th March
We have arrived in Ho Chi Min City after a short flight from Ha Noi. Somehow we've managed to board a local bus which spins us towards District One. We are unsure of where we have to get off so we just bail out any old place and hailed a taxi to our hostel. With luck we are only five minutes away and already it feels much nicer here than it did in Ha Noi. Its cleaner for starters and theres more space between the buildings and lots of parks and green areas. I suppose in a way it helps that the suns out and its very warm so by now we are sweating heaps with the backpacks on as we walk the remaining couple of hundred yards to the Saigon Sports hotel.
The Hotels fine enough for the money and once we've unpacked and got changed we're heading off along the road for something to eat at a local Vietnamese cafe.
The beers are going down a treat and the green and red curries are spot on. Once we finished eating we walk around the block to get our bearings and walk the meal off. We're noticing
that theres just as many, if not more, mopeds zooming about than there were in Ha Noi. Next to our hotel theres a tour operator which organised a half day city tour for us in the morning. Up in the room the free internet works at treat as I caught up with the blog and emails.
Saturday 5th March
Our bus picks us up just along the road and we head towards our first stop which was at the War Remnants Museum which contains exhibits relating to the American phase of the Vietnam War. Operated by the Vietnamese government, the museum was opened in September 1975 for Displaying War Crimes of American Imperialism and the Puppet Government of South Vietnam.
We prepare ourselves mentally and enter the compound with an open mind. Almost immediately we come face to face with a Large US Army M48 Patton tank sitting next to a large Chinook Helicopter. Across from here are several US Warplanes and a UH-1 "Huey" helicopter which are all fully intact and sitting on the front forecourt of the Museum. That'll be us in a war museum then Jill?!
Now we are standing in the lobby of the Museum
Ho Chi Minh- mopeds
on your marks.....get set.....goooo!!!
and have the choice of exhibits such as weapons and guns. Also theres rooms full of graphic photographs covering the effects of Agent Orange and other chemical defoliant sprays such as the use of napalm and phosphorus bombs. Also atrocities such as the My Lai massacre are covered in great detail so you can say we have a pretty grim range of options.😞
We decided to visit the third floor which was the Historic Truths room where we followed the history of the War as far back as the mid 19th century. If you want the history in short 'Leon syle', here you go. 😊
France colonised Indochina during the Mid 1860's. Indochina being Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. France left Indochina to help fight the in the second world war in 1939, when they came back from that war in1945, Japan defeated and replaced France in French Indochina in a successful coup. In September 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allied forces in World War II and France returned to Vietnam.
Vietnamese were like 'no, no' this is our country now 'Piss off'. France say 'merde', spits the dummy out and starts fighting over land rights etc. This War in
1946-1955 was the Indochina War which started the Vietnam war. The French decided to pull out and leave Vietnam and the mess to the Americans and South Vietnamese in 1955. 'Merci Beaucoup'!
North Vietnam was already under Communist rule with Unlce Ho leading them in the and with help from Russia they fought against the South Vietnamese led by Ngo Dinh Diem.
Usa decides 'we cant have communist rule spreading''Russias involved, we have our Vietnamese Puppet (Ngo Dinh Diem) leading the South...blah blah blah..' so with the cold war at its height decides to help the South to fight the North who are led by Ho Chi Min.
Usa at its strongest had 330,000 troops in Vietnam around the end of the 60's.
Lots of battles and many deaths followed for no good reason and the US pull out in 1975 and the North took over the country once and for all.
Vietnamese still worship Ho Chi Minh who died 1969 as being the one that won the war for them and 'unified' them. It couldn't be further from the truth because when the North retook the South many Southerners perished and they all lost their money that was in
the banks as the Northerners took the lot.
Just think England - Scotland and you'll know the love these two areas of Vietnam have for each other as some get along and where as most dislike each other.
In case your wondering why Saigon is called Ho Chi Minh city well i hope you can figure it out going by the history. Its a bit of a two fingers up to the South after the North renamed it but as we walk about Ho Chi Minh the locals here still call it Saigon.
Theres a lot more ins and outs and political issues, but you know what....., we all agree this is a war we'd all rather forget. After we had visited the 'agent orange''napalm'chemical warfare' section, we were feeling sick and saddened by the photos and written accounts of the war.
2.5 million Civilians died over the 20 years of the war.
220,000 south Vietnamese, 60,000 US Soldiers, 30,000 Laos army, South Korea 5000, Australia and NZ 550 perished.
The North Vietnam Army lost a staggering 1.2 million soldiers.
So adding this all up we can see that 4 million people died...for what? A right bloody
We walked out the Museum a bit disorientated and depressed by it all. We had a blether about our current wars such as Afghan and Iraq which ends up going tits up and into our own little battle. 😊 So heres where I brighten up a dark part of the blog with something random....
In 1965 Vietnam seemed like just another foreign war,
but it wasn't.
It was different in many ways, as so were those that did the fighting.
In World War II the average age of the combat soldier was 26...
In Vietnam he was 19.,
In inininininin Vietnam he was 19.
Paul Hardcastle - 19 #1 in the UK charts for 5 Weeks in 1985 in case the older people were wondering....😊
Ok, our little personal war is over now as we head into the wholesale Market of Ho Chi Minh. We walked around the food stalls which are full of fresh vegetables, grains, pulses, dried meat and fresh meats. Its busy as you would expect as this is where all your street traders get their supplies from and ts a battle in there just being able to move around the tight
alleys between stalls. Theres a bag section, linen, kitchenware,gloves,hats,garden and even moped helmet sections throughout the large warehouse and we lost no time in getting out the other side and into the waiting bus.
We took a short stop at a nearby Chinese Temple where people were burning incense and praying and it was very similar to temples we have seen in China although this one is in full use. Thats our half day with the tour done so we get back to the hotel for a freshen up and some lunch before going on a walk to the Palace of Unification.
The Palace of Unification was the site of the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, when a North Vietnamese Army tank 843 crashed through its gates.
The former president’s residence sits on sprawling parkland here with the aforementioned Tank 843 given place of honour by the gate it smashed through.
We walked around the front gates taking photos as we werent keen on paying the admission fee's to tour the palace itself so we walked a short distance up the road towards Notre Dam.
Notre Dam? your thinking,
isn't that not in Paris. Established by French colonists, the cathedral was constructed between 1863 and 1880 and its actually called the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica. Following the French conquest of Cochinchina and Saigon, the Roman Catholic Church established a community and religious services for French colonialists. Cochinchina was the name given to the region encompassing the southern third of Vietnam.
Confused? Join the crew!
Ok, where are we? Oh yes, next to here is the old Saigon Post Office which was built in the early 20th Century and was used during the war by America to handle the large amounts of mail being sent back and fore.
Thats our Ho Chi Minh city tour done and theres probably lots more to see that we havent done but we are on a tight schedule. We're heading off to explore the Mekong Delta tomorrow for a couple of days so we're looking forward to sailing out of Vietnam and into Cambodia.
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