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Yes Oui Si - Ye --> Dui
12th Jan 2014 - 15th Jan 2014 - Maple Leaf China
Part 1: Ho Chi Minh

Greetings all!

It may be the end of our 4-week SE Asia tour, but here's the recap of our multi-country tour of Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. One more day, then back to Shanghai and Zhenjiang.

We started our tour with three days in Ho Chi Minh city (aka Saigon). A bitter start though - we ended up falling for a taxi scam and paid $45 for a $20 cab ride to our hotel! They always take advantage of the tired (9pm flight arrival), culture-shocked travellers. Grrr.

After that, things got better. We had a late-night bowl of pho soup (delicious) and crashed in our hotel, ready for exploring the next day. Each day, we achieved a good balance of museums (War Remnants Museum, Reunification Palace, Cu Chi Tunnels), wanderings and food.

While sitting outside a convenience store one day, enjoying a cold beer, we noticed that there was a sudden wave of movement up the street - all of the vendors and Vietnamese people sitting on plastic stools on the sidewalk suddenly jumped up, hauled all their chairs and tables into the nearest store or around a corner, and stood around waiting. Seconds later, a truck came down the street with soldiers or police in the back - we guessed they were seizing anything on the sidewalks that wasn't allowed to be there. As soon as the truck rounded the corner, they all relaxed and returned to their lounging.

Vietnam had some sobering memorials. The War Remnants museum had a mockup of the prison camps on Phu Quoc, an island in the south of Vietnam, complete with torture devices and graphic pictures. The rest of the museum was filled with very visual accounts of the effects of the Viet Cong, American GIs, and Agent Orange. The Vietnam war left quite the legacy in this country. We were very aware that unless asked directly, we appeared to be American - the locals' attitude towards us definitely changed as soon as they found out we were Canadian.

The Reunification Palace was even more interesting - it was the palace where the South Vietnamese President and family had lived while the war was happening - and when they left, suddenly, the Palace was preserved exactly as they had left it. It's amazing to see the exact same building and grounds that you're standing on, in a photo with tanks and soldiers invading.

On the 15th, our last solo day before the cruise, we met up with Ashley and Clayton, teachers from our school, for a day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels and early/belated birthday celebrations for Clayton and I. The tunnels were pretty amazing (after a 2 hour bus ride and a stop at an art factory staffed by by victims of landmines) They showed us all the different types of traps that the Viet Cong had devised, the way that they disguised their tunnel entrances in termite mounds and crater holes, and the different types of below-ground living shelters they built. At the end, we had the chance to crawl through 100metres of tunnels, although they had been expanded by 30% for the tourists. Ashley and Clay were at the front of the group, and managed to complete the entire distance. Rod and I got stuck behind some very slow moving people, and decided to come up after only 40 metres rather than crouch in the dark tunnel waiting for people infront of us to move.

Our birthday dinner was at an outdoor barbeque restaurant, set up to look like a tropical beach restaurant, with palm trees and fairy lights in the trees. We celebrated with a "tower" (2L in a tall tower with ice in the middle and a pouring spout a the bottom) of beer and a bottle of champagne, and a variety of seafood and meats and vegetables grilled on our table-top grill. We moved to an outside bar a block from our hotel that was housed in a VW Bus and played rounds of euchre. All in all, a fun night.

The next morning, we were up early, and picked up in a van to drive to Cai Bei and start our Mekong river cruise....



Next: Part 2: Honeymoon Cruise
Previous: Happy Holidays!


Diary Photos

Ho Chi Minh

Pre road clearing scramble

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Vietnamese coffee break

War Remnants Museum

Vietnamese Tea

Ho Chi Minh

VW Bus Bar

Banh Mi

French Influence

Reunification Palace

Reunification Palace

Reunification Palace

Reunification Palace

Reunification Palace

Reunification Palace

Reunification Palace

Reunification Palace

Reunification Palace

Reunification Palace

Reunification Palace

Reunification Palace

Reunification Palace

Reunification Palace

Cu Chi Tunnels - GI Trap

Hiding Hole

Hiding Hole

Viet Cong hiding hole

Cu Chi Tunnels - a real entrance

Entering the tunnels!

Vietnam BBQ and Beer Tower

Do a little dance...


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