Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Saigon, Vietnam

There is still a lot of French colonial influence here in spite of the fact Vietnam has been independent since 1945.  The Majestic is one of the better hotels and it lives up to its name!

There are a lot of international restaurants here and of course the food is great!  This is Weiner schnitzel-

I thought Chiang Mai had a lot of scooters, but here, the right lane seems to be reserved for them.  They truly are everywhere!

The busy Saigon River passes through Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC)-

Breakfast is always interesting in Asia.  They eat a lot of foods that we would never consider so early in the morning such as beef noodle soup, Hue style, also known as Bun Bo Hue-


Their fruit is even different with guava, star apple, green dragon, papaya, passion fruit and mini bananas-

Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, also known as Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception was built by the French colonists between 1864 and 1880. It has two bell towers that are 190 feet high-

The inside is kind of boring in spite of the fact that all the original building materials were imported from France-

The War Remnants Museum is a 'must do' while in HCMC.  The Vietnam War began November 1, 1955 and ended April 30, 1975 when HCMC, or Saigon as it was called then, fell.  It was fought between North Vietnam who was supported by the Soviet Union, China and other communist allies against the government of South Vietnam who was supported by the U.S.A. and other anti-communist allies.  However, communism wasn't just in the north.  The Viet Cong was a South Vietnamese front, aided by the North and they fought a guerrilla war against the anti-communists.  The U.S. was involved to prevent a communist take-over of the south, fearing that if the south went, so would neighboring countries.  Of course the north and the Viet Cong were fighting to reunify Vietnam, but under communist rule.  Initially the fight was against France who was backed by the U.S.  The museum is excellent with many graphic pictures.

Outside there are tanks, helicopters, airplanes, bulldozers, Howitzers and flame throwers.

This is the M 48 A3 Tank.  It weighs 47.2 tons and its maximum speed is 48 km/h.  There were around 370 tanks here by July 1969.

Bulldozers were used to raze rice fields, orchards, forests and cemeteries to the ground, creating "No man's land".  By July 1969, there were over 1400 in Vietnam-

This is a mangrove forest destroyed by chemicals-

Between 1961 amd 1971, the U.S. sprayed over 100 million liters of toxic chemicals, including 44 million litres of Agent Orange, which contained 170 kilograms of Dioxin, exposing 4.8 million Vietnamese.  Dioxin is the most harmful and toxic chemical discovered by man.  A mere 85 grams could wipe out a city of 8 million!   Its aftermath will last for generations because the toxins are transmitted through damage to DNA molecules and genes.

This child was born in 1997-

Nguyen Van Dam was born in 1979-

Nguyen Hoai Thuang was born in 2008-

During the war, 3 million Vietnamese were killed, including 2 million civilians, 2 million people were injured and 300,000 went missing.

The U.S. was involved in the war for 17 years, with a peak troop strength of 549,500, costing 676 billion dollars, 58,159 casualties and 304,000 wounded.

At Hiromichi Mine, Ha Phan, this U.S. twin-engined Caribou crashed after accidently being hit by American artillery in August, 1967.  The three crewmen died in the crash-

This soldier holds what remains of a Liberation soldier after being hit by a grenade launcher-

There are 600,000 tons of bombs left behind and 6.6 million hectares of land contaminated with unexploded mines and explosives.  Between 1975 and 2002, 42,135 people have been killed and 62, 143 injured from them.

This person stepped on a landmine in 2003!

The guillotine was transported to all the southern provinces and used to decapitate Vietnam patriots.  The blade weighs 50 kg and the last man to be executed in this manner was in 1960-

Another form of punishment was the Tiger cage.  The small ones measured 1.8 m x .75 m x .4 m.  and would hold 2-3 people who would have to stoop while incarcerated-

I learned a lot here, but what was the most sobering, is realizing the consequences of the war continue today.  It is not uncommon to see dioxin affected people begging on the streets.

Last night was spent playing darts in an English pub.  I'm looking forward to more exploring tomorrow!

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