Day 25: Ho Chi Minh – Cu Chi Tunnels and city tour

This morning, Pati and BeeBee were picked up at 7:45 am and driven to the Cu Chi tunnels just outside Ho Chi Minh City. During the Vietnam War, the guerillas (resistance) built a labyrinth of narrow tunnels, where they hid during bombing raids and staged surprise attacks. This area has been developed into a large exhibit showing how the guerillas lived and fought during the war. Particularly disturbing are the examples of traps the guerillas developed for injuring and killing soldiers.

Pati and BeeBee climbed down into one of the tunnels that has clearly been enlarged for tourists, although it is still quite confining, and traveled about 30 meters underground. They also dropped down into a small space representing a hidden entrance to a tunnel. BeeBee had to be lifted out, since the top of the hole, once she was in it, came up to her armpits. Pati was able to climb out unaided.While the guide did a very good job explaining the exhibits and the war, he advised them not to watch the video at the end of the tour, saying it could ruin their visit to Vietnam. They skipped the video, but may try to find it online when they get home again. 

After this, they drove back to the city for lunch.

Lunch was followed by a city tour that included the War Remnants Museum, the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, the General Post office, the Opera house and downtown Saigon.

The War Remnants Museum (previously named the Exhibition House for US and Puppet Crimes) originally opened in September 1975. It displays old military equipment and other related items from the Vietnam War, including (in the courtyard) larger exhibits (e.g.,an F5A fighter and a UH1-Huey helicopter). Inside, on the second floor, are many photographs from the Vietnam War, mostly of soldiers. On the first floor are many more photographs, and they are even more disturbing, of civilians that were wounded and those affected by Agent Orange and phosphorus bombs. The ground floor displays posters and news stories from the Vietnam War era.

The Reunification Palace, formerly known as the Presidential Palace, was the site of South Vietnam‟s surrender in April 1975. Parked on the front lawn near the fence are two tanks, representing the ones that broke down the fence on that day. On the roof is a helicopter.

Notre Dame Cathedral, the General Post Office and the Opera House are all beautiful examples of architecture from the French colonial period.

Today’s tour would have included a visit to the Ben Thank Market (Night Market), but Pati and BeeBee had already visited that on their own yesterday. Instead, they visited a shop for some small souvenirs.

After this, they were dropped off at their hotel and their guide marked several good restaurants for dinner on their map.

They decided that they would like to have American food and walked about a mile to Pizza 4P for dinner. After this came dessert at a Baskin Robbins nearby. They then walked back to their hotel for internetting and bed.

Note:Their guide is passionate about the history of Vietnam and delivers historical nuggets with both barrels blazing. As to his appearance, think “bad cop” from Terminator 2 with a gravelly Chicago gangster accent.