Miss Saigon - Pho Sure
Trip Start Jan 23, 2012
49Trip End Jun 09, 2012
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After the very long journey, we checked in and Pok took us on a walking tour of the city. Although Ho Chi Minh isn't the capital city it is massive with 9 million residents and is the economic powerhouse of Vietnam. The majority of these residents ride around on motorbike, making crossing the road a real life version of frogger! The only way to survive is to walk slowly and if a motorbike is heading directly towards you, stop and allow it to go around you
In the evening we met two new couples who would be joining us around Vietnam and had our last meal with Martine and Herman at Pho 2000 - as frequented by Bill Clinton. Neill and I decided to go for the most famous Pho (a traditional noodle soup) with chicken in large - but due to it's size, in the end beat us both!
The next day we visited the famous Chu Chi tunnels, on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh city. This is where the Viet Cong dug over 200km of complex tunnels in and around the jungle to fight America during the Vietnam (or as they call it, American) war. The tour guide took us around various parts of the jungle, showcasing the brutal traps set by the Viet Cong. They often had so little raw materials so had to improvise many of their weapons - meaning the jungles were littered with bamboo traps in various forms and land mines recycled from American bombs. He also showed us the ingenious ways the Viet Cong dug their tunnels (often on three levels), meaning the tunnels were impossible to flood by the enemy, difficult to bomb, and easy to block should the Viet Cong find any of their tunnels were infiltrated
Next, we were allowed to experience the tunnels ourselves, and were allowed to enter a 150m stretch of tunnel especially preserved for tourists (but expanded slightly to cater for our larger frames!). The tunnels were still only 50cm by 80cm, meaning you get a real feeling of claustrophobia. We only lasted about 20 metres before we had to get out - it's incredible to think the Viet Cong lived down there for 20 years, often facing malaria, cholera, snakes and other poisonous creatures in the process.
Finally, we visited the War Remnants museum to learn a little more about the war. This museum mainly explained the tactics used by the Americans during the war and the after effects of the chemical warfare they employed with the use of very clear photographs, captions and excerpts from both the locals and American soldiers. Some of the photos and personal accounts were very disturbing.
Later that evening, we left Ho Chi Minh for Nha Trang. On leaving we reflected that we have found Vietnam has been different to our expectations and Ho Chi Minh to be a very western and commericalised city with its massive designed shopping malls and tall skyscrapers springing up everywhere.