Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Many of the locals still referred to the city as Saigon, the capital's name before the war and communism. Ho Chi Minh city was more developed than we anticipated. It was refreshing to have a number of options for restaurants and other city like amenities. We frequented a cheery cafe, around the corner from our hotel, named the Pearl in Pham Nu Lao, the backpackers area . They had terrific drinks which were refreshing after adventures around the city.

A large market down the street was an amusing place to shop as well as just wander. There was a full array of products from foods to clothes, tourist trinkets and hardware. We found some fantastic bamboo and fabric lanterns which came in many colors. Couldn't pass them up.

A shot from the 8 th floor of Madame Cuc's Hotel 64, our tiny hotel with no elevator. There was a winch which we could raise our bags up on when we had ascended the spiral staircase. The staff was terrific. We were always warmly welcomed and offered something to eat or drink. We received complimentary toast and jam, bananas, coffee, and juice in the mornings, and a bowl of instant noodles for dinner in the evenings.

As you can see from the previous picture the buildings are all squeezed in. They tend to be very narrow but tall. The powerlines were also interesting. They were masses of wires. It seemed as though everyone had their own personal line.

The quaint style which was prevalent throughout the city.

The traffic in the city is quite exciting. It is a river of scooters and a few cars slowing cruising along and honking. The horn is not used in anger, but a signal of presence and a way to say, "I am coming through."

One of our day trips out of the city was to Chu Chi Tunnels. They were located about an hour and a half north of the city. The tunnels were occupied and used by the Viet Cong during the war. It was interesting to experience. Our guide did a great job explaining all of the details.

Many of the entrances were originally very small and well disguised.

Jesse took the opportunity to check out some of the dark passageways. It was a tight squeeze.

A tank in the very spot in which it broke down during the war.

Various types of booby traps hand had been reconstructed and were on display. They were rather gruesome. The Vietnam war is remembered for the intense jungle warfare.

Remains of bombshells which didn't detonate when dropped.

We were served tapioca and hot tea. This was a staple food for the Vietnamese during the war.

Our trip to the Chu Chi tunnels was interesting. It is really hard to imagine the war actually taking place right where we were. During the war the jungle was defoliated by Agent Orange, but it is now regrown and looks more normal. The guide pointed out various craters which were where B-52's had dropped bombshells.

We visited the war museum in Ho Chi Minh. It was a different take on the war. The museum had been constructed by the communists and was slanted against the American presence during the war. Filtering facts and propaganda was difficult.

The scenery on the way home from the tunnels was rather pleasant. Villages, farms, and rubber trees.

Another fun look at different the way people transport things.

Chels and I had fun going out in the evenings and browsing the markets. We got caught in a downpour as we headed back one evening. We made a break for a busy pavilion in a park. It was packed with people having a dance party. Many who wouldn't have normally joined in dancing were pulled in because they were avoiding the rain. It was quite memorable.


Jeff said...

I am impressed by the array of drinks in front of Chelsie. Youse guys have to come back through Salida so we can party.

Love the ducks. I wonder if they know where they're headed? I don't imagine they're pets out for a Sunday drive.

My friends just back from Vietnam had funny, interesting things to say about the traffic. They got used to stepping into the flow and having the river of traffic part around them. They made it safely across many a street.

I'm thinking of where I'd like you to go next, after SE Asia. There are places I'd like you to visit for me.

Be well.

Jeff said...

I want to say that the last photo is beautiful. It catches my eye each time, but I don't see it first as a picture of building and reflection. It's appealing just by color and shape. Nice one. I also like the power lines. It's hard to imagine how it grew that way with someone getting electrocuted. How do you fix it if there's a problem? And the shot of the rooftops. I loved Europe and Mexico both for the rooftop living--great little decks and porches and cubbyholes hidden away.

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