Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Vietnam Post - Day 2

Regina Coffee in Ho Chi Minh. We didn't go here.

This second installment about my Vietnam trip will be a short one. By this time, I had 'mellowed' from super tourist to casual walker+history student, and anyway the information about the places we visited is available online. Okay, I may be just making excuses not to write.

Oh, alright.

DAY 2 - May 29, 2009

After a hearty breakfast of Bolognaise Spaghetti and a strawberry & cheese sandwich (among others), we got on our buses again for the two-hour ride to the Cu Chi Tunnels, used by villagers and guerillas during the war. The place had by now been turned into a prime tourist spot, where they make you watch a short documentary on the tunnels before you go into the tunnels yourself.
The tunnels had three levels, all strategically made over a period of ___ years (sorry, I forget such details), and spanning several hundred kilometers. For a more accurate account, do some googling instead; I am so bad at this. Hehe. The photo above shows a diorama of the tunnels--living areas, booby traps, water wells, and air vents that make up the Cu Chi Tunnel system.

A bomb from the US made this hole.

You have to be really small and slender to fit in most of the tunnels.

I wanted to go through this tunnel but unfortunately nobody wanted to be my buddy and we were also already lagging behind our group. The height of this tunnel is about three feet; the length, I dunno (that's what I wanted to find out!).

When some bombs dropped by the enemies didn't detonate, the guerillas carefully took them apart and made new ammos.

The Cu Chi Tunnel tour was lots of fun. Of course, my idea of fun in this context is walking around the woods and going in deep dark places with musty smells. Haha. It was a nice walk, highly educational (they even had mannequins that portrayed Cu Chi Tunnel life--freaky but helpful nonetheless). Near the end of the tour they served sweet potatoes and tea.

What I didn't like about the place was the firing range--an activity tourists could do was to buy bullets and shoot with rifles. The range was beside a souvenir shop/stopover store, and every few seconds somebody would fire into a wall, and the loud gunshots were just terrible. That place was supposed to be where people could rest a bit and relax, but hearing the gunfire defeats the purpose. I don't see why--through tourism and education you show the history and promote peace, yet you also offer the experience of wielding a deadly weapon. Fine, it's just firing into a wall. But could we please be spared from hearing trigger-happy people have their kind of fun? (Insert frown here.)

ANYWAY. After the tunnels the guides took us to a rural restaurant for lunch, where I got to change into a clean shirt (the nursing profs thought what I did was clever; I said my job makes me anticipate such ickyness, hehehe). The food seemed to disappear all at once, we were that hungry. Lunch and the tunnel trip made us all sleepy on the way back to Ho Chi Minh, and I was glad for the long ride--I got to catch up on my sleep.

When I woke up we were already in the city, by the Reunification Palace. Majestic place. Here I nursed a headache, brought about no doubt by the heat+aircon+drizzle. Still more learning experience, lalala, wasn't much of a fan, especially when I saw elephant feet and tusks displayed.

They said that that was the inspiration for the helicopter in Miss Saigon.

Most of the group wanted the tour to end as soon as possible because they had another agenda: shopping. The guides took us to the Greenhills of Vietnam, Saigon Square. Here the best buys were bags (imitation ones, but really good ones, could be surplus, even) carrying these brands: North Face, Kipling, Samsonite, Crumpler, Roxy, and something with Wolf. We were given an hour and a half to shop, after which we were picked up for dinner. Dinner wasn't too memorable though; except for when the seaweed soup arrived last and the people at my table thought it was gulaman for dessert.

When I pointed this out, one of the titas commented about how culinarily adventurous I was. I slurped away.

With dinner over (and shopping done for the day), it was time to head on back to the hotel. While the others looked forward to their z's, our group was thinking of an after-dinner coffee. And so, from the hotel we walked to the direction of the cathedral, where this was waiting for us:

I think it's pronounced 'bababa'. Tastes like Pale Pilsen a bit.

The nice little cafe served beer, coffee (deliciously brewed in a small aluminum 'coffeemaker', mmm), and fried French. Goes to show how much they value their relations. Hehehe.

I'm done with Day 2. Hooray! More photos in my Multiply. :)

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