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