My first full day in saigon was spent at ...

Trip Start Oct 25, 2001
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Sunday, December 30, 2001

My first full day in Saigon was spent at the War remnants museum. In the courtyard of the museum are a selection of US armoured vechiles, infantry weapons, 4 aircraft, and a American helecopter. Inside were a selection of gruesome pictures showing the extent of damage the American/Vietnam war had done, including pictures of the mass destruction of the bombings, as well as showing graphic images of the after effects the napalm bombs caused to innocent villagers lives. 134 Photographers died in the Vietnam war, as well as over 58,000 Americans, and estimates of one million North Vietnamese and VC fatalities, with approx four million civilians killed.(10% of Vietnams population)
Also i was informed that by 1972 nearly 3,680 American aircraft and 4,844 helicopters were shot down/lost with a total of 15 million tonnes of ammunition dropped on Vietnam. There are 2 sides to every story, but if it was one thing the museum drove home was that war is very destuctive and is far from being glamourous.

The next day i went to the Cu Chi tunnels where there are over 250kms of tunnels that was used to hide the Viet Cong from the American army (and also to protect them from the bombings from US aircraft) The only signs of the war on the surface was a knocked-out M-48 tank, and a huge bomb crater that was dropped from a B-52 bomber. We had a chance of crawling along a part of the tunnel system that narrowed down to just 1.2m high and 80cms across.
The next morning i headed out to the Mekong Delta. Faemers working hard in the fields, with flat deep green rice fields, this part of Vietnam is the 'rice basket' of Vietnam for the area produces enough rice to feed the entire country, with a large amont left over for export. (around 3 million tonnes a year)
The Mekong River is considered one of the world's great rivers, and the delta is one of the world's largest. The Mekong starts in the Tibetan plateau, flowing 4,500 kms through China, between Laos and Burma, into Cambodia and eventually into Vietnam on its way to the South China Sea.
I had a total of 5 days here, so i had to make the most of it. I was lucky that the rain and the clouds kept away, giving me plenty of opportunity to get photos of the locals living their lives along the river. I took a number of boat trips up and down parts of the river, and found that i was going through film like water flowing through a tap!! In the first hour of travelling around the floating village (Chao Doc) i took 2 rolls of film. - Up to that point i had only taken 7 rolls of film in the 3 weeks iv'e been here!! -Mainly due to the crappy weather up north.

All the boats along the river are controlled by tour companies and the government, making it illegal for a foreigners to travel with 'non government' owned boats. If you get caught by the river cops, you will probably get fined.
(Basically it means you have to spend around $18 a hour to use the official boat) But i managed to find a freelance boat 'cowboy' that was willing to take me. He spoke no English, only showing me a piece of paper with written English inviting me to travel on his boat with him. He was only charging $2 for the hour, so i went along with him. On the way back to the pier, the engine cut out leaving us stuck in the middle of the river. After about 10 minutes of sitting there watching him rip the engine to pieces i realised that we were drifting away from the pier so I decided to take action by (as he was getting nowhere getting the engine going again) standing at the front of the boat, and rowing in the direction of the pier. I noticed that about 30m away on the riverside was the police headquarters!! I had to chuckle, as i origionally planned to do a trip along the river 'discreetley' but ended up standing at the front of the boat rowing right past the river cops!!!! Luckily after 5 mins of hard labour, another motor boat came along and towed us back to the pier.
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