On our full day in Ho Chi Minh City we set out on a self-guided walking tour of the city. We took a similar path to that suggested in our Lonely Planet travel guide, but in reverse order.
With all the cars, bicycles, and motorbikes that don’t follow the rules, it’s quite a challenge to cross the street as a pedestrian in HCMC.
What is the significance of this Post Office? It was designed by Gustave Eiffel … Yep, the same guy who designed that other structure in France.
Visiting the palace was a highlight of the day. The ticket price (15,000 dong) included an English speaking tour guide, which made the visit much more interesting.
The Reunification Palace was the home of the puppet government (Presidential Palace) of South Vietnam during the American War. The gate shown above is where the tanks from the North came storming in to reunite Vietnam in 1975.
The dance floor and bar on the top floor of the palace have an amazing view of the city! Also, not shown was an escape helicopter outside to the left of the dance floor.
Map rooms were also eerie, knowing that is where many of the operations and missions were born and probably carried out.
It was creepy going down into the bomb shelter and seeing the old telephones, typewriters, and maps, where important decisions had been made during the war. It was strange to think of the people who had stood in those same rooms and what they would have been discussing.
Example of the type of tanks that broke through the gate of the Reunification Palace, ending the war on April 30, 1975.
WAR REMNANTS MUSEUM:
Our visit to the War Remnants Museum was the depressing part of our day. I wish the U.S. had never gotten involved in Vietnam.
It’s incredible to see amount of bombs that were dropped in Vietnam compared to all of World War II! The map of Vietnam below, shows the areas that where hit with bombs (in black) … unbelievable!!! What was the U.S. government really trying to do? Also, of note, this is just Vietnam, the U.S. also decided to carpet bomb Laos and Cambodia … just in case!
We have spared you from most of the horror details as some things were just too disturbing, and it’s hard to realize that this happened a short time ago. Some of the exhibits at the museum were too gruesome to photograph, including black and white images from the war and photos of the debilitating effects of exposure to agent orange and phosphorus, and the birth defects of children of people exposed to agent orange. Some of the U.S. soldiers who were exposed to agent orange have received some monetary compensation from the chemical companies that produced it, but the Vietnamese who had the chemical sprayed on them have not been compensated. (According to Wikipedia Vietnamese lawyers brought suit against the chemical companies but their case was dismissed by the Eastern District of New York. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal in 2007, saying that the herbicides used during the war were not intended to poison humans and therefore not used in violation of international law. The lawyers for the Vietnamese have petitioned the US Supreme Court to consider the case.) It’s outrageous that the US government thinks it can get away with whatever it wants, even when it is clearly violating international law!
It is important that the world knows what happened here as well as all the other atrocities and violations against humanity that are being committed everyday. Just a couple of weeks ago, Israel was blamed using phosphorus bombs against the Palestinians, a clear violation of international law.
It was nice that the museum ended on a happy note, with children’s paintings of their home towns in Vietnam and a better world where all countries get along. It is truly amazing to see how the Vietnamese have rebuilt their lives after many years of war that should have never happened.
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