Friday, March 16, 2012

The Liberation of Saigon: The Defeat of the US

This year, C121's annual trip brought us to Ho Chi Minh City, which was formerly known as Saigon. After the Vietnam war, this country is fast emerging as a powerhouse in the ASEAN region. I am very impressed with this city on my first visit. Streets are quite clean with decent walkways for pedestrians; probably influenced by the French during the colonial rule. The traffic however is a huge mess with millions of motorcycles terrorizing the roads. If you are not used to crossing the streets without lights or zebra crossings, then you'd probably have BIG difficulties in crossing a road.

Food is very cheap here. For USD 5 above, you can get good meals from nice restaurants already. There are many places to visit around the city, most of them are museums displaying Vietnam War relics and abandoned US army equipments. In the museums, you'll likely see the "other" side of the war story of US atrocities during the war. Propaganda or informative, it's up to you decide who is the villain in the decade long Vietnam War that cost so many lives.

Highlight of this tour is the Cu Chi tunnel which is at the outskirt of Ho Chi Minh. You can experience the guerrilla life of the Vietcong in jungle and small tunnels. The area is a maze of different kinds of booby traps used in the war. You can also crawl into the small tunnels which are camouflaged superbly from the ground. At the end of the tour, stop by the gun range to experience firing weapons from both sides of the army used in the war.

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