Vietnam – Ho Chi Minh City

Two months ago we set off on our whirlwind holiday in Vietnam. What an experience! Beautiful people and places, so much history and such a rich culture.

IMG_3199First stop, Ho Chi Minh City where we were whisked around to various places of interest: The Reunification Palace, previously the Presidential Palace,  now a museum and venue for Government special occasions.

Next, the amazing Central Post Office and nearby the Neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral, built in the late nineteenth century.

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Then the War Remnants Museum where various aspects of the Vietnam War (they call it the American War) are graphically displayed.

IMG_3318Here I learned heaps about the war and its ongoing repercussions. The country was totally destroyed and millions of people are still suffering the after effects, both in Vietnam (and its Indo-Chinese neighbours) and among those sent to fight there. During the war 3,000,000 Vietnamese were killed including 2,000,000 civilians, a further 2,000,000 were injured and 300,000 went missing. The Americans dropped 14,300,000 tons of bombs.

IMG_3368After this sobering experience we had lunch at a lovely local restaurant and then explored the Chu Chi Tunnels from where, during the 1960s, the Viet Cong were able to control a huge rural area only 30 – 40km from Ho Chi Minh City.

A week later, after our tour was over we had a couple of extra days to explore HCMC on our own.

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IMG_4577We walked through beautiful gardens and wandered along some of the formerly grand streets of the old French colonial era.

 

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IMG_4659I put on my explorers had and found a couple of the locations described in Graham Greene’s The Quiet American: the Rue Katinat, now the Duong Dong Khoi, and the old Hotel Continental.

IMG_4638By now we had the notoriously crazy motorbike traffic sussed and could cross the road with comparative confidence – walk forwards, don’t hesitate and don’t step back, the local motorbikes will pass behind you (wish the tourists on bikes knew this too).

IMG_4629After being totally decimated by the war, Vietnam, while still a poor country with a long way to go, is now very much a growing, go ahead economy, with a tremendous zest for improvement. American, Australian and Chinese investment is  welcomed by the one party Communist state.

 

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