We said farewell to our Pandaw boat & crew and were taken by bus into Ho Chi Minh City. 8-10 million population and a major city. As with most things Vietnamese HCM City or Saigon as we used to know it, is impressively resilient and seems to have recovered from the horrors of the 20th Century. We have arrived in time for Chinese New Year (Tet in Vietnam) so the place is heaving !! Mainly with the locals dressed in their finery having selfies and photos taken in front of massive floral displays.
A city tour stopping at most of the iconic landmarks, most of which are remnants of the French regime which governed and enslaved Vietnam from the mid 19th century until they got their arse kicked by the Viet Minh at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 which led to what we know as the Vietnam War which continued well into the 1970s. The Opera House, Post Office and Catholic Cathedral for starters…
Then Independence Palace where numerous French and US sponsored regimes “ruled” South Vietnam for decades – each one more corrupt that the other. The Viet Cong stormed it in 1975 and President Van Thieu hopped on to a helicopter on the roof and legged it to America, leaving total chaos behind him…………
Various other buildings, a market and street life
Oh yes and a temple – very bizarre…..
The next day we visited the Cu Chi Tunnel where the Viet Cong lived and hid for years whilst harassing the might of the US armed forces. Hundreds of Km of Tunnels – not for the claustrophobic !! A 50m crawl through a specially enlarged (for tourists) was enough for me.
Then to the War Remnants Museum for a full immersion session of the horrors of the Vietnam War and the atrocities carried out by all those involved. Extremely harrowing especially the after effects of Agent Orange (Millions of tons of which were sprayed over Vietnam to flush on the Viet Cong. Four generations later and children are still being born with major deformities. Needless to say the US companies who manufactured the shit have compensated the US Veterans who were “collateral” damage but have yet to do anything about the millions of Vietnamese who were contaminated and continue to be. A very dark period in US and indeed world history !!
Only a few photos but you should get the idea: