local city tour of ho chi minh, vietnam. i had asked for a tour of the local city but they sent me on a chinatown tour in the city. so i didnt get to see the places i wanted to go initially.
first place to go - The War Remnants Museum is a war museum. It contains exhibits relating to the Vietnam War and the first Indochina War involving the French colonialists. Operated by the Vietnamese government, an earlier version of this museum opened on September 4, 1975, as the Exhibition House for US and Puppet Crimes. the exhibitions expose war crimes, first those of the French and then those of the Americans, who had operated in the country as early as 1954. In 1990, the name was changed to Exhibition House for Crimes of War and Aggression. In 1995, following the normalization of diplomatic relations with the United States and end of the US embargo a year before, the references to "war crimes" and "aggression" were dropped from the museum's title as well; it became the War Remnants Museum.
it has three floors. you go around seeing all the exhibits floor by floor. the tour gives you only one hour to go through the entire building. it is just not enough. if you are interested in the history of the war in vietnam, you would need at least three hours to see through the entire exhibits.
images of torture by the americans on the vietnamese
deformities of people resulting from the use of chemical weapons
the operation was called agent orange. the use of a herbicide and defoliant resulted in the widespread havoc on people's health and wipeout of the landscape. people to this day are stilling suffering from those effects.
different exhibits of artillery used at the time of the war
after the museum we were shepherded to this chinese shop. i have no idea why they took us there. so just to be nice i ordered some watermelon juice. though the juice was good, it was very expensive.
next stop - The Ba Thien Hau Temple, officially the Ba Thien Hau Pagoda, is a Chinese-style temple of the Chinese sea goddess Mazu.
below is a man hanging up lighted incense rolls. they are lighted and hung from the ceiling as a token of offering.
next stop cho binh tay market in china town. it is like a wholesale market for locals.
that concludes first half of the trip of chinatown.
it is worth mentioning here that i had opted for a local tour of ho chi minh and was sent on a tour of china town. the hostel people knew it and simply didnt tell me. they just put me on this tour of chinatown which i had no intention of seeing. later when i asked them about it, they said they had no idea that it was changed. so i had to cancel my tour on the next day and go see the places that i originally wanted to see on this day.
after lunch the next place to visit is the cu chi tunnels outside of ho chi minh city. these are tunnels dug by the vietnamese to escape from the americans. they had dug up a network of almost 250 kms of tunnels underground to make a fully functioning space underground. many traps were setup to trouble the americans. this is the highlight part of the whole ho chi minh trip and also the reason why i made the trip in the first place. below pics show how big the tunnel entrances were for comparison.
below is the hole for air conditioning. you would be wondering whether they had air conditioners inside. no!!! they put long hollow bamboo sticks underground just giving space for air to flow into them above the ground. the air when it flows through these bamboo sticks gets cooled naturally hence giving cool air under the ground inside the tunnels. these tunnels were dug in three levels. 3 metres, 6 metres, 9 metres. traps were setup at every place so that the americans couldnt reach them that easily.
below is the shooting range at the cu chi tunnels. you can choose to shoot either a manual gun or an automatic. charges are separate for this. these guns are loud. i could hear them so loud even before you come to this place. even after getting the mufflers to put on your ears, the firing is so loud that it starts paining in the ears after a few minutes. imagine this multiplied by a thousand or ten thousand or more of these in a war like situation. it really pains me to just feel of the number of conflicts and wars that happen around the world and how much pain and suffering people are going through because of the wars.
from there a short walk later we enter the cu chi tunnels. before that there is a demonstration about the types of traps the vietnamese had put up to counter the americans.
next we enter the cu chi tunnels. the tunnels have been widened so as to accommodate tourists, otherwise they were much smaller. the tunnel that is shown to us is about 100 metres long. there are exits every 20 metres. i exited in the first exit because i felt claustrophobic. the last 20 metres has been kept in the original size to show how it was then.