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Day 10 – August 13
Started the day out with a run around the re-unification palace. I tried to enter the grounds via the open back entrance as it looked like a nice place to run but an official soon made it obvious that this was not allowed. We were greeted downstairs of the hotel by our Bhuddist ,vegan guide,”Near”. We drove out to the Cuchi tunnels passing a Bhuddist funeral on the way.
The tunnels form a 250 km network underground at depths of up to 9 metres used by the Viet Cong to evade the American forces. The tunnels were booby trapped in addition to catch out the “tunnel rats” , the smaller GI’s that were sent down to the tunnels – of which 90% did not come out. In addition we were shown the many traps that were set in the jungle by the Viet Cong. We were invited to try going down a small trap door entrance into the tunnels. My shoulders were too wide to let me in ! We crawled along one of the tunnels for a distance of about 30 metres , this was enough to get a taste of things .
On the way back we stopped at a rubber plantation and observed the collection of latex from under the bark.
Following lunch at a restaurant in town we went to the re-unification palace for a look around . After this we visited the war remnants display . Inside was a display of photography from the war . It was a fairly one sided affair exposition of “war crimes” committed by the Western forces. It is estimated that 3 million Vietnamese died in the war and around 60000 + Americans . Clearly there was a slaughter and destruction of villages and murder of the innocent including women and children plus widespread bombing of non military targets , destruction of the forests with naplalm and agent orange. I guess all these could be considered war crimes . To suggest however there were no atrocities committed by the other side I am sure would be incorrect ( 9000 of 12000 French POW’s after the defeat at Dien Bien Phu disappeared plus 100,000 opponents of the communist regime prior to the onset of the civil war)
That evening we strolled round the City and eventually ended up in the lounge of the Temple Club having a drink and entrees for a small evening meal. We booked it for dinner for 2 nights hence.