Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City was named Ho Chi Minh City after their favourite leader of all time… Ho Chi Minh. He lead Vietnam to independence against the French, who had occupation over Vietnam for over 100 years!
“Same-same but different” is a favourite Vietnamese phrase, let me give you some examples:
- “Your premium goes up” followed by “same-same, but different”
- “You are old, I am young; same-same but different”
- “You are handsome, but I am handsome; same-same but different”
To be fair, it’s probably an inside joke.
Moving On To The War Museum
Now, I’m not a hippie, I have never been. But if I was alive during the Vietnam war, I would have protested. Big style. I understand I saw the war from the Vietnamese point of view but what the Americans did to Vietnam, and themselves were atrocious.
I won’t go into too much detail here, but you’ll have to have a look at the following links; unless you are already familiar with some of the war crimes:
The War Museum was horrific. I was deeply saddened and just wanted to crawl into a hole and cry!
There were so many pictures of deformed children and adults from Agent Orange (a carcinogen used by the Yanks to “clear forrest areas”). They dropped 90 million litres of the stuff on Vietnam. The effects are still very much seen today. And yes, a lot of American soldiers are suffering from the after effects too.
They dropped 388,000 tonnes of Napalm on Vietnam. Imagine plastic and petrol put together. It sticks to your skin and burns you to hell.
Although the International Laws of War forbid chemical warfare, the Americans continued with chemical weapons for over 10 years.
The horrendous treatment of the American soldiers towards the Vietnamese was just awful to see. Of the 3 million dead Vietnamese, only 1 million were soldiers. And the pictures were not only from Vietnamese photographers but American journalists too. It’s no wonder the world was against it.
At least 2 Americans, 1 man from Japan, and a Vietnamese monk burnt themselves alive in protest of the war.
Brief (Recent) History
The Vietnamese have been under French occupation for over 100 years until 1954. Then America started to support the South with military advisers and small air raids to combat the rise of the communist party in their civil war. They then entered Vietnam increasing their military presence from 1960. They left in 1973 after over 3,000,000 deaths.
The Cu Chi Tunnels
250km of networked tunnels, North-West of Saigon, were the home of 70,000 Vietnamese liberal fighters during the war.
They had food halls, kitchens, hospitals, schools and more, all about 5-10m under the Earth.
Most were hidden from enemy sight. There were two types of tunnels, the ones where they’d want the enemy to see (laden with boobie traps) and the others being their home/ military bases.
Our tour guide was in the war and had a bullet hole scar, a slashed neck and missing finger. His stories were heartfelt.
For a while, the Americans couldn’t find the holes no matter how hard they tried. They then brought over 1,000 German Sheppard’s to sniff out the holes. This worked for a while and they killed 70% of the Vietnamese people in the tunnels, dropping grenades and other explosives in the holes. But then the Viet Cong stole American clothes and used toilet paper to put near the ventilation holes.
The Americans wrangled the Thai into the war to setup snake farms. They decided to put poisonous snakes down into the holes, but again that didn’t work, the snakes ran (or slithered) for the high ground or just generally escaped.
The Vietnamese people had nothing more than basic weapons and bamboo traps against the far superior American technologies but still managed to fight them off.
It was an interesting tour, to say the least.