Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)
We arrived in Saigon at 7am and went on a hunt for somewhere to accommodate our group of 9 (which has now risen to 13). The street we started on reminded me of Khao San road in Bangkok but not quite as crazy. We found a 10 bed dorm…on the fifth floor. It was a challenge getting up all the stairs with my backpack!
We all lay down “for five minutes” and passed out for 2 hours by accident. On waking up, we decided to visit the War Remnants Museum to learn more about the Vietnamese war. It was so informative and well done but heart breaking and I won’t post many pictures of it here (not that I took many). There was an example of the kind of prisons that existed and the torture methods, including the “tiger cage”.
Prisoners had to crouch in this barbed wire cage in the heat, it’s unimaginable.
I learnt about the US’s use of Agent Orange, a chemical spread on the land that destroyed Plant growth and left people with deformities. A few generations down the line, people are still being born with defects and there are unexploded land mines. A boy lost his leg in 2003 stepping on one.
The museum taught me a lot but it was (as expected) very bias towards Vietnam and felt propaganda-y.
The next day we went to the Cu Chi tunnels where hundreds of people lived underground for years. They couldn’t live on the surface as Agent Orange had destroyed the fields and they were being constantly bombed. It was amazing how they designed and lived in there!
To get in, they had a secret hole to lower into.
At one point there was over 200km of tunnels in Vietnam stretching as far as the Thai border. Most people with me went through the tunnels. I got less than a metre in and got straight out again. It was dark, enclosed and small, I would have been stooping. I admire the peoples bravery living in there!
At the tunnels we also saw some of the traps they had created, it was fascinating.
There was a bomb crater too. There were lots of them.
On the final day in Saigon I had some errands to run so went for a walk across the city by myself. Away from where we were staying there were some nice parks. I sent some packages from the post office which was in a beautiful French building. (Dunkeld House, Mum and Bell and Caiels you should get them in about a week and a half). There was a Notre Dame church too.
I stupidly went to the Reunification Palace and it was boring as I couldn’t get on a tour despite repeatedly asking and got hot and fed up so left. I did get a cool picture from it’s balcony though.
Having seen Saigon’s sights I was more than ready to leave Vietnam and get out of the city. I didn’t realise how much I don’t like cities until this trip (except London, Bristol and Cardiff of course!). Onto Cambodia and another stamp in the passport!