War remnants museum and the Chu Chi tunnels 

The war remnants museum in Ho Chi Minh City showed the chilling impacts of war, the American/Vietnamese war. It was surprisingly graphic too with photos of severed heads, sculls, dead bodies and torture victims. One photographer caught on camera a B52 bomber being hit mid air by an American anti-aircraft missile (blue on blue). The vertical tail plan was severed from the aircraft  only 50m or so from the ground.

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American vehicles left in Vietnam after the war and now on display at the museum.

I was also surprised by the amount of military vehicles left in Vietnam by the Americans including bulldozers and a Chinook and the number of personnel in Vietnam at the time. At one point there were half a million American soldiers there.

It was shocking to see the destruction and the obliteration of the landscape caused by the bulldozers and chemical weapons. And there were several shocking quotes from Americans too about bombing the Vietnamese ‘back into stone age’. There are many examples of the Americans disgracing themselves during the Vietnamese/American war but the museum only showed one side of the story. It would be interesting to have a more balanced view on the war.

Here’s some lovely simple landing gear for those at work to get excited about 😛

We also took a trip to the Chu Chi tunnels, the underground tunnel network and home of the Vietnamese Communists (VC) during the war. On the way to the tunnels the guide told us some stories about life today. Today, to get into the police force the Vietnamese need to be at least the third generation VC and he liked to band around the following saying:

“Good VC, good CV!”

He was also keen to highlight the corruption:

“If you like money join the police, if you want big money, join politics.”

The ‘Democratic Republic of Vietnam’ is not so ‘Democratic’.

At the Chi chi tunnels we were shown some intriguing torture methods used by the VC. They were pretty brutal with the aim of maiming but not killing.

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Some of the traps on display at the Chu Chi Tunnels

The VC were pretty resourceful, making sandals made from American tyre rubber. Also the women farmed rice at night to avoid the American soldiers.

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We had the opportunity to go though the tunnels but had to join a continuous stream of people and shuffle through doubled over (and these have been enlarged for tourists). The tunnels were hot but were ventilated, which made it bearable. Beth and I were OK for the first 10m but when the line stopped moving for 30s albeit, we quickly became claustrophobic and panicked a little internally so we were happy to leave the tunnel at the midway point of 15m.

The tour was ok but the tour guide was pretty poor and rushed us around the site telling us what to take photos of.

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