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Published: April 9th 2010
Vietnam - 4 Weeks
Vietnam was an interesting place, a country that has been at war for over 50 years against the French and the Americans. For this reason they are quite aggressive people which has become a part of their culture. I found the country has been changed a lot by the western world, capitalism is in full effect, the Americans may not have officially won the war but they certainly took it over in an economic sense, the number of tourists there and the conveyor belt style tourism industry was a little bit too much for me. Despite that there were some cool things to do and it was an interesting experience.
I flew into Ho Chi Minh City and here began to discover the atrocious behaviour of the Americans during the war, over 2 million Vietnamese civilians died and 1 million soldiers. The tactics the yanks used were comparable to anything the Nazi’s did. Look at the effect of the huge amounts of Agent Orange they dropped all over the country destroying all the life it encountered and which still today causes babies to be born with serious deformities. I also saw photos of American
soldiers dragging bodies around with tanks and there is an American politician, a former special forces commander who allegedly burnt villages to the ground after raping and killing the local woman and children.
During the war the Viet Cong built an immense network of connecting underground tunnels serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous guerrilla fighters. These tunnels were very important in resisting the Americans, eventually persuading the weary Americans into withdrawal. I visited the tunnels of Chu Chi, and crawled through a tunnel,
Also at the tunnels there was evidence of the hand-made traps they also used to fight the yanks, as they were badly equipped especially compared to the Yanky doodle dandies’ huge arsenal of weapons.
I visited the Mekong delta, to see the end of the river on which I had travelled so much in Laos. The are many islands formed by silt deposits and we got to visit some of these islands and see how they make local products, e.g. the rice noodle paper.
The floating market was really cool, unlike the floating markets in Thailand which mainly sell souvenirs for tourists this market sold
Dug with their hands
fruit and vegetables for the locals.
I travelled North through the country, stopping a couple of nights at Mui Ne to see the nearby sand dunes.
After Mui Ne I left the coast for a quick detour through the Highlands, via Dalat and Kontum but I didn’t spend much time as I had recently seen much more impressive scenery in other parts of Asia.
I returned back to the coast to visit the world heritage cities of Hoi an and Hue. The former was the nicer, with cute little streets that were flooded by the river when I was there.
I visited the Champa ruins of my son, but there were too many tourists turning up by the coach load and, again, I had recently seen much more impressive ruins elsewhere in Asia.
I did a tour of the DMZ (demilitarised zone) the area that divided the country and was subject to some severe fighting during the Vietnam War. Now it’s like Disneyland with some museums and monuments, and the very impressive, multi-layered vinh moc tunnels with its underground living quarters and hospital
I spent over
The traps the Viet-cong used to fight against the American guns and bombs
a week in the area of Hanoi, visiting two really cool spots and enjoying the 10 cent glasses of beer in street-side bars in the city.
One of the areas I visited was Halong Bay, featuring thousands of limestone karsts and isles in various shapes and sizes.
It was clearly visible how the limestone dissolves in to the water and this allowed the formation of some great shapes in the rocks.
The other area was Ninh Binh, described as Halong Bay over rice fields, it was another beautiful place with more cool shapes formed from the dissolving limestone.
After Vietnam my 5 1/2 month trip of South East Asia was over and I flew back to New York over Alaska.
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