From Vietnam to Cambodia by road

Our package tour gave us the option to travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh by either bus or plane.

We chose the bus because we wanted to see the countryside and we’re glad we did.

It was interesting to see how the country changed and quite amazing how obviously different things were almost as soon as we crossed the border. Continue reading

Cu Chi Tunnels – Remnants of the war in Vietnam

After a day that was spent mostly travelling from Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon, as the locals still call it) we spent a good deal of the following day at the Cu Chi tunnels.

Even knowing that people lived in these tunnels for many years, it was still a shock to see how small they were. And, in fact, the ones you can “walk” through have been made been made bigger for the likes of us.

There was a spot where people who were small enough (not us) could pop down into a hole and pull the top down to demonstrate how well they blended into their surroundings.

The traps being displayed and demonstrated are barbaric and designed to injure, not kill. These soldiers knew that their enemies may leave a dead soldier but wouldn’t leave an injured one, and that they would have to use man power and resources to rescue them.

The small section of tunnels that visitors can access is about 150 metres long. That didn’t sound too far so Stu and I gave it a go. I did it crouching and hunched over. Stu did it crawling. We made it 20 metres to the first exit and made our escape. Quite a few people got to the entrance and backed away. Can’t blame them for that. Definitely not one for the claustrophobic amongst us.

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There are many displays and stories here. We only saw and heard a selection of them but it was enough to get some idea of what it was like for the people living in the tunnels for many years and the fighters defending their country.

All the while that we were walking through this area there was the sound of machine guns. It was quite surreal.

The gunfire was coming from a rifle range where you could pay to fire one of the weapons. Stu chose to fire 10 rounds from a machine gun.

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Afterwards we headed home and several of us went the to War Remnants Museum. Such a lot of reading here and we didn’t see everything. Not even close. It was very different to see a war from the point of view of the victors when that wasn’t us. Some of the photos were very confronting and the overall tone was extremely anti-American. Not so much anti-Australian, though.

To me, the Vietnam war was something I saw on the News as a child. No one I knew at the time was there and we weren’t personally affected. I had no real understanding of it then, but in more recent years I have learnt about it from the point of view of Australia and America.

It was eye opening to visit and learn that the people portrayed as a cruel enemy were patriots fiercely defending their country, as patriot would. Of course there were cruelties, but isn’t that the case on all sides in any war? We didn’t experience any hard feelings, only people eager to share their stories and their countries history.

This evening we went to the markets for dinner …

… and here’s a couple of local examples of load “restraint”.