Saïgon: Reflections on the Vietnam War

During my brief stay in Ho Chi Minh City (often still referred to as Saigon), I was able to get a quick history lesson on the Vietnam (read: American) war.

My first stop was Cu Chi just outside the city where a complex tunnel system stretching over 200km was built to hide and protect the Vietnamese from American attacks. Visitors are able to go inside some of the extremely cramped tunnels where at times you have to squat or shimmy to get through. I kept thinking that I would never have been able to survive for days in those tunnels let alone years. On display was also many types of traps and weaponry including a shooting range. The guns going off in the background made the experience all too real.

20140627-154010-56410331.jpgBomb Crater

Back in Saigon I took some time to explore the War Remnants Museum, which was very interesting. Outside were numerous tanks, planes, and helicopters from the war and inside were many photographs. The displays were heartbreaking as many images depicted the horrific effects of chemical warfare, mainly Agent Orange. The disfigurements, burns, and deformities still surface decades later and in so many innocent children. More civilians than soldiers died during the war making it so incredibly hard to understand how these tragedies happened and continue to happen in many parts of the world. I left feeling somber but also with respect for the resilience of the Vietnamese people who continue to rebuild their country to this day.

War Remnants Museum

 

Departure Lounge: Vietnam Itinerary

Departure Lounge: Vietnam Itinerary

It’s time to get back in the saddle again! Or perhaps more appropriately, the back pack straps! I am a mere 3 days away from my inaugural trip to Southeast Asia (aka backpacker paradise!) and my first solo trip. I am both excited and nervous about spending two weeks in my own company, but I’m trusting Adventurous Kate’s promise that solo travellers are never alone!

Some of you may be curious about my travel itinerary for this trip so I thought I would include a brief synopsis of my plans.

vietnam

Itinerary

June 21-22:Vancouver, Canada to Guangzhou, China (next day arrival and overnight)

June 23: Guangzhou, China to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

June 24: Ho Chi Minh City

June 25-26: Nha Trang

June 27-28: Hoi An

June 29-30: Hue

July 1: Halong Bay / Bai Chay

July 2-3: Hanoi

July 4: Hanoi, Vietnam to Vancouver, BC (via Guangzhou, China)

I have some idea of what I want to do in these cities but I’m mostly looking forward to seeing what each day brings. That being said, these are the activities I am most looking forward to:

  • The infamous Nha Trang Boat Trip (aka booze cruise). Apparently, it’s the most fun you’ll have in Southeast Asia!
  • Getting custom-made clothing in Hoi An.
  • Touring the caves and waters of Halong Bay.
  • Eating as much PHO (pronounced fa) as possible… and learning the basics of Vietnamese cuisine.

I am hoping to post updates as I travel but that will mostly depend on my Internet access. Get ready for more fun updates to come!