Monday, March 3, 2008
Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is the largest and busiest city in Vietnam with a population of 7 million people. Much of the daily life takes place on the streets, which are lined with shops, stalls and vendors with their wares spread out on the footpath. Don't miss the bustling Ben Thanh Market - a fantastic place for bargains of every kind! There are several interesting sights in HCMC. The War Remnants Museum has a wealth of images from the wars, the most moving being a gallery entitled 'Requiem' which is dedicated to Vietnamese and foreign journalists and photographers who perished during the French and American conflicts. The Reunification Palace was the former residence of the President of South Vietnam until April 30, 1975 when the North Vietnamese tanks came crashing through the front gates, bringing the U.S.-Vietnam War to a dramatic end. Close to the palace some of the best examples of French colonial architecture are represented in the forms of Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office. Notre Dame Cathedral was built between 1877 and 1883 and the stone used to create it was exported in its entirety from France. Next to the cathedral stands the Central Post Office , finished in 1891. It is another fine example of French architecture and is Vietnam 's largest post office. For all its French colonial history though, Ho Chi Minh City is by far and away Vietnam's most modern city. It has numerous shopping malls, cinemas, discotheques and a bewildering number of bars.
Cu Chi tunnels. This network of tunnels, which stretched for over 200km, became legendary during the 1960s. The Cu Chi tunnels played a vital part in the U.S.-Vietnam War in that they allowed the Viet Cong to control a large rural area only 30 to 40 km from Saigon. At its height, the tunnel system stretched from Saigon to the Cambodian border. The network, parts of which were several levels deep, included innumerable trap doors, specifically constructed living areas, storage facilities, weapons factories, field hospitals, command centres and kitchens. Today the remaining tunnels have become a major tourist attraction giving the visitor a unique experience and feel of what underground life during the war must have been like. The tunnels have been widened for our benefit (otherwise we would not be able to enter them!) For those interested there's even the opportunity to fire off rounds from an AK47 or MK16 at the nearby rifle range.
Posted by snow at 7:46 AM