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TOWARDS THE RISING SUN

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The last stop in Vietnam was Ho Chi Minh City. The capital of French Indochina and later Southern Vietnam as Saigon, today carries the name of North-vietnamese leader. 

 

It's still the largest city in the country and differs from the capital - Hanoi, in almost all aspects.

 

I have to say that Ho Chi Minh gives more impressions of the capitol than Hanoi. Everything is so massive and metropolitan. Construction of first metro in Vietnam is currently in progress in Ho Chi Minh. It won't be below, but above the ground (photo below left.) I hope it will release the street traffic at least a bit.

 

In general there is a lot of construction zones in Ho Chi Minh. A lot of money should come from USA. On the streets you can find many american fast food restaurants - something that is almost nonexistent in Hanoi. Americans found the way how to occupy the country without the war 40 years after retreet of their forces. At least it's better way.

 

I have to mention that I was surprised about the popularity of USA in Vietnam in general. Before visiting it I imagined they are still national enemy no. 1. But it seems the war is forgotten completely. The least popular nation at the moment are chinese. Although it looks like hate against chinese and simpathising with americans is stonger in Ho Chi Minh than in Hanoi. People on the south seems more educated. You have better chances finding someone who speaks english. You can even find someone who knows about hitchhiking.

Here we also got catched by the first tropical storm. A nice sky turned overcast in 5 minutes. And after half of an hour we could make only the shots like the one below left. Even the local restaurant can't assure us enough shelter to stay all dry.

 

War in Vietnam started in 1941 when japanese occupied the area. After the second world war the first Indochinese war started when vietnamese tried to get independant from France. French left the country, but the americans came. In 34 years of fighting, guerilla forces built 250 km of tunnels under the Ho Chi Minh and all the way to Cambodian border. At first tunnels served to supply the city, but later also as comanding headquarters, hospitals and eventually homes for hundreds of people. They became underground cities.

Today we can visit a part of those tunnels. A visit gives a similar feeling as visiting Auswitz. Somewhere you have to go if you're in that area but it's unpleasant.
First you get welcomed by tons of unexploded bombs and other amunition, the you head into the underground world. I was very happy I lost a couple of kilos on this trip otherwise I wouldn't be able to get through the original entrance.

 

The tunnels themselves are not any widther or more comfortable. Additionally you have to avoid traps set for american comandos.

 

At the end you can try underground lunch: Boiled tapioka root with salt and peanuts. In theory this was the only food people could get without going to the surface.

The irony is that you listen for more than an hour what a bastards americans were. How they bombed inocent vietnamese women, children, old and handicaped. But then you walk past the window being renovated in a souvenir shop and see a screwdriver like this :)

 

Vietnam is world famous for coffee. And Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) is known for coffee in Vietnam. In other parts of the country you can find regular coffee (Ca Phe) and Saigon coffee ( Ca Phe Sai Gon) separatedly on the menus. For a regular one I would say it's strong. For Saigon coffee I would say it's even stronger. And because of all this cofeine popularity you can find many places selling coffee on the market place.

 



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