Well after consuming the whole bottle of vodka between us last night, I had a bit of a sore head but nothing compared to the fighters on The Contender 2, which was on AXN. He he. We did intend on getting up for our free breakfast but we faffed about for way too long, so we packed up our stuff and headed out to Allez Boo for some huevoso. I had difficulty opening my boiled eggs and Jim had trouble with the ketchup but it wasn’t too bad. Then in an effort to sweat off the vodka, we strepped our way up to the War Remnants Museum, but it was closed for lunch so we tiptoed on over to the Reunification Palace. We headed off around the palace walls, each time we came to a gate, the guard there waved us around to the next gate. Sheesh.
Eventually we got in the gate. The palace itself was pretty cool. It was designed by a Vietnamese architect in the 1960’s and was very retro. It was built for General Diem, the president of the South Vietnam Republic. The building started in 1962, but the General himself never got to see the end product as he was shot by his own troops in 1963. After years of terrible fighting, the south finally fell to North Vietnamese & VC forces. On 30th April 1975, two tanks burst through the gates of the palace (then called Independence Palace), and a VC soldier entered the palace. He ran into the room where the president of SV who knew what was coming, was waiting for him. The president told him that he had been waiting all morning to hand over the power. The VC soldier replied by telling the president that he could not hand over what he didn’t have.
The palace interior was very lush and beautiful. See (some pics). (the stupid NEW camera broke!!! FECKIN HELL), and Boo.
So we continued around the palace feeling a lil bit sad about the camera (well I was anyway but I was trying to also take in some info) when we finally got to the top floor of the palace. Low and behold, there was our saviour, a lil ole lady selling water and ‘cameras’! was sitting awaiting our arrival. WOW, said I. I’ll have a camera and two waters please. So now feeling watered and with a camera to take a picture of the helicopter on the roof, we were much pleased. But we were just at the end of the tour. We took some pictures of Jim and the tank and headed off to the War Remnants Museum.
The war museum was very sad. It had lots of photos taken by journalists and photographers in the field. A lot of the photographers had been killed whilst taking pictures of the war e.g. Dicky Chapelle, Larry Burrows etc etc so it was sad to see their last pictures that they had taken, or the last pictures that had been taken by them.. the pictures themselves were saddening. Pictures of elderly Vietnamese just before they were shot, pictures of young American soldiers caught in traps and crying out for help, a picture of a young Vietnamese baby abandoned by it’s mother as soldiers came to town, pictures of many many children and babies disfigured and handicapped by Agent Orange. It was very sad. Jim was laughing as he had seen a Western woman outside crying so I tired very hard not to be one of those dorks but I found seeing the babies and children very sad and had enough after the Agent Orange exhibit. I couldnae take no more cap’n. So finally we headed off home. Jim wanted to buy a war movie to watch, as we were in Vietnam, but I couldn’t take any more war or war noises that day so we left it for the moment. We walked allllllll the way home, then headed out for some grub in a place with some girls with some hats on. The food was pretty lame but the ladies were very nice. We had a few beers and headed back to the gaff where we chilled out and worked on a track.
The following morning we had a tour booked with Happy Tours to take us to the Cu Chi Tunnels at Ben Dinh. During the Vietnam war, the VC lived and organised attacks on the US troops from approx 200km of underground tunnels around the Cu Chi area. These became known as the Cu Chi tunnels. The tunnels enabled the VC to evade American troops and pop up above ground in hamlets or small towns or wherever they needed to be, yet still remain uncaught. These tunnels were amazing. The VC used these tunnels for travelling, living in, organising attacks etc. The tunnels themselves were very small and there were a few levels of them underground. The first level was the living area for many VC. Many ate, drank and slept in the first level which was about 3 metres underground. The second level was perhaps 6 metres underground and the third level was nearly 10 metres underground. The VC could not afford to be claustrophobic, plus there were very few airholes leading to these lower tunnels. These tunnels were a triumph for the VC as no matter how hard the Americans tried to locate them they always failed and the tunnels were a source of safety for living and transport for the VC.
The Us troops tried many ways to ‘pacify’ the area around Cu Chi which came to be known as the Iron Triangle. Tens of thousands of troops were sent in to locate the tunnels but they failed. In order to decrease the cover of the VC, the American troops then used plenty of chemiucals on the area from the air and then later used napalm to clear the foliage and expose the VC and their tunnels. But to no avail. The tunnels were too far underground to be seriously effected. When the Americans started using dogs to sniff out the tunnels and the VC, the VC started to wash with American Soap to put the dogs off the scent. Many dogs were killed during this war. The US then declared it a free-strike zone which meant anyone and everyone We were up at the crack of dawn for our free breakfast of huevos & bread and tea. Then we headed out to our miniature bus with only 3 others to head to the Cu chi area. On the way we picked up another guide and another 5 people and off we went. Me & Jim were doing the dance of the sleepy heads all the way out on the bus. We stopped off at a lacquer ware factory to see how the lacquer pictures & goods were made. Then it was back on the bus and off to the tunnels.
We were brought in to watch a really really old video of what seemed to be some type of propaganda for the Cu Chi tunnels. It was interesting but slightly hilarious as they had put the video to some type of clown/circus happy/goofy stylee music. It all seemed a bit surreal imo. After the video we were led off down the beaten path to some old original tunnel entrances. It was very interesting to see the tunnels. We were led around the Cu Chi Ben Dinh area and shown various original tunnel entrances – which were tiny, and plenty of ‘tourist’ entrances – which were a lot bigger. We were shown rooms which were used for dining, cooking, making weapons and we got to climb into a tunnel and make our way 10 metres or so down the road. It was very hot down there and very tight. Not the kind of place an Irishman would like to spend a lot of time. The two other girls in our group wouldn’t even go down into them. Me, Jim & a Japanese guy, (who owned a Toyota company) all went down and scoocheed through the tunnel. We had no torch so Jim shouted to me to warn me when the tunnel went a bit awry, and in turn I shouted to the Japanese guy and together we all got through a little bit dirtier than when we started. It was great fun though. Although I can’t imagine having to live down there. No sirree bob. :/
Anywho after much tunnel exploration, rubber shoe observing, rice-paper-making-watching and souvenir perusing, we made it back to the comfort of the air con bus. HAW LAY LUU YAH. Air con, as pretty krap as it is in south east Asia, is still an air con bus and still slightly more impressive than a non air con bus. J
So we headed back to Ho Chi Minh City for our free lunch at Happy tours. Once again, twas only the three of us for lunch. The two weird girls just disappeared! DISAPPEARED _ WITHOUT THEIR FREE LUNCH>>>>????? He he, they are obviously not schooled in the backpacker ways. Lunch was great – free noodles, rice & spring rolls.
We bid adieu to the Japanese guy (we did learn his name but I’m fucked if I can pronounce it) and headed off to the War Surplus Market, where there are stalls selling old army & war surplus items. We hovered around admiring the gas masks & ponchos, before heading off to the normal market to splurge out on some presents.
Then we headed off back home with a few beers to chill out and work on a track. J
The following day we decided to head to Dalat. Upon awakening, we had to wait for some lady to sew Jim’s pants. Now we knew darn well that she had forgotten to do it, but we still hoped for the best. Alas, twas not to be. Upon discovering we were leaving and not coming back, and eh yeah we’re leaving now, the reception girl made a call and asked for the pants (we reckon). She said it would be another ten minutes, but to be honest, we didn’t have ten minutes. So one of us decided to stay and another to go and hold the bus. I said I wasn’t going to hold the bus as I am ALWAYS waiting on Jim whilst other people ask me where he is, so for once I thought twould be good to be the one who was making other people wait. So I decided to stay. Well it wasn’t as much fun as I thought as I was waiting for yonkers and I hate when people are waiting on me. But finally, after putting on my backpack and nearly sitting on the reception girls lip waiting for some attention, she made another call and the young one with the pants arrived. J yeehaa. So off I went trotting down the road.
I caught up with Jim and we headed off to the bus. I was slightly embarrassed as I thought the whole bus would have been waiting on me, but I was wrong to be worried. There was no body else on the bus except me, Jim, the two drivers and some kid. Which was cool in one way as noone was waiting on me and bad in another way, as the young dude insisted on slowing down at every half-assed town, hanging out the door and shouting ‘Dalat?’, ‘Dalat?’ all the way down the road. Which makes for a very slow journey indeed.
After stopping for lunch, picking up pukesy o tool and wombling our way to Dalat, we finally arrived there at about 5pm. 2 hours later than planned. But the day was beautiful, the colours of the area were amazing and all our arses were numb. Twas a golden echo of a day. ….
As soon as the bus landed in Dalat, trunty million people launched themselves onto the bus, obviously looking for our business. Although I think they were hoping for more people than just me & Jim on this 48 odd seater bus. Lol. Anyway, me & Jim being the non-fussy types, followed yer woman to have a look at her rooms and picked this really nice room with two huge beds, a bathroom and a window with a view of some vegetable gardens. I love windows. J we chucked our stuff down, arsed around for a bit, then went out to grab some grub. I was trying to push ‘Larry’s bar’ on Jim, but he was having none of it, as it was nearly a kilometre out of town (ten mins walk). He is getting lazier as we go along!! So we settled for eating in some place that was literally 2 mins from our gaff and was recommended by the LP. So off we went and there was very few veggie options for me so I asked for a veggie taco. I got lettuce in a tortilla. WOW. Sheesh. This is the land of vegetables and fruit, I should not be getting lettuce in a tortilla for a vegetarian option!!!! Anywho I ate it and it wasn’t too bad when it was washed down with two glasses of wine. Fnar.