Trip Start May 31, 2008
Trip End Jun 01, 2009

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Saturday, September 6, 2008

We are back in a big, bustling city after a few calm days in the Mekong Delta.  The traffic with it's constant stream of motorbikes and associated horn honking takes a little getting used to.

We saw the Ho Chi Minh City History Museum and War Remnants Museum on our first full day in the city.  The War Remnants Museum was a very honest look at the brutality of the war and it's affects on the citizens of Vietnam.  The affects of chemical warfare, specifically Agent Orange, was the most astonishing and sad.  It was a stark reminder that the victims of war are most often civilians, and the wounds they leave take generations to heal.  The galleries of photographs and stories from the journalists who were killed in Vietnam was also very moving, as was the final gallery showing support from around the world for the anti-war movement.

We visited the Cao Dai Great Temple, and were there to see a typical afternoon prayer service.  The men and women wear identical outfits (like long tunics and baggy pants).  Most are dressed in all white, except for a few higher ranking officials in colours that symbolize the religions that Cao Dai is based on (Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Catholicism).  The temple was very symbolic - most impressive was the giant globe in the centre with an eye on it. 

The next stop on the day trip out of the city was the famous Cu Chi tunnels.  The Cu Chi people supported the North in the war (even though they live in the South), and formed a guerrilla fighting unit against the Americans and Southern Vietnamese.  There was an extensive underground tunnel network that allowed the Viet Cong to control this area during the war.  We saw the the trap doors, booby traps, and areas for constructing weapons.  They have even made a "king size" tunnel for tourists that we got to go into.  King size or not, it was quite tiny and winding.  Really remarkable that they constructed even smaller ones during the war.
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