A hectic day – 8am on coach, through the hugeness and brashness that is Ho Chi Minh City nowadays, a city of 13 million people and 7 million scooters.
Our first trip was to the Cu Chih underground tunnels used heavily by Communist Vietcong in their guerilla warfare which defeated the much greater firepower of the Americans. Had been warned of malarial forest there containing poisonous snakes, but worst encounter was with hordes of other tourists. Some simulations but gave a real feel, along with the various spiked booby traps!
Then on to another brand new experience – that of a Buddist temple (Vietnamese style) but with lots of gods and several safes in front of altars to avoid theft of donations. Small, noisy and didn’t seem at all spiritual but apparently very popular with residents.
The main event for all of us in the afternoon was the national War Remnants Museum, an odd name for a significant reminder not just of tanks and aircraft outside, but of the Requiem exhibition of actual war photos. These were taken largely by war photographers most of whom were killed getting their shots, and are no holds barred. An exhibition all should see. Very moving, particularly those containing women and children. Just as graphic were those depicting the impact of Agent Orange attacks and the horrific bodily defects in births afterwards – several people had to leave this room since they had had their fill of horror. Apparently American visitors can be particularly affected…