FuFu World Tour - Sai Gon, Viet Nam
25th May - 11th June 2007 - Part Three
The Reunification Palace (Presidential Palace).
The Reunification Palace befittingly takes its name from the reunion of the Northern and Southern fractions of the country after a hard fought war that ravaged Vietnam and neighbouring country Laos. The entry fee is 15,000 Dongs (~US$1).
The famed Communist tank.
For starters, you cannot help but notice the famed Communist tank that was shown in the media around the world crashing through the fence that some would say symbolized the free world. Though it is no longer used for state affairs, the palace is still filled with grandeur and awe. Visit the various rooms and you will realise that the past presidents have high taste for furniture and antique. It is really a palace!
The President`s International Reception`s room.
The meeting room.
The conference room.
War Remnants Museum was the next target. In its role as the unique museum in Vietnam to systematically study, collect, preserve and display exhibits on war crimes and aftermaths foreign aggressive forces caused for the people. The museum comprises a series of eight themed rooms in several buildings, with period military equipment located within a walled yard.
M48 Patton tank.
UH-1 Huey helicopter.
This museum is a must see for anyone interested in late 20th century history. The tanks, helicopters, planes and arms on display are not what makes of this such an important visit. What draws most visitors here are the images on display. Visitors can see the effects of the weapons of mass destruction used by the Americans during The Vietnam War. It is now the most popular museum with international tourists.
BLU-82 Daisy Cutter bombs
Lucy had gone to Hongkong for couple of days and Andy had to attend his classes, so i woke up late. After visiting the palace and museum, i explored around the area and surprisingly i bumped into a familiar bank i used to see in Japan. Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, the largest bank in Japan. I spontaneously took out my wallet and exchanged some Yen to Dong. The rate there was unexpectedly much higher than the money changer. This might because Japanese dont wanna let their Yen flow into others hands.
Lunch with Vietnamese roasted chicken rice and soup.
Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.
Piece of 10,000Yen note gave me these many 100,000Dong.
Nuoc Mia (sugar cane juice) only for 2000Dongs (US$0.12)
After a half day walking around, i was super thirsty and what i spotted was a stall selling sugar cane juice at a sidewalk. Sugar cane juice is a type of drink commonly found in Vietnam as a refreshing drink during the hot Vietnamese climate. Many places have a couple of plastic tables and chairs where you can sit and drink. Without any hesitation, i ordered one, moisturized my throat while watching the flow of motorcycles and cars at the corner of a sidewalk.
Shoving stalks of sugar cane into the machine to get the juice.
Sugar cane juice with lemon lime. GREAT.
While wandering around, i spotted a girl, woman and bean curd.
I quickly ordered my favourite.
So smooth. Yummicious.
Opera House (facing City Hall).
I met up Andy at City Hall. He had to attend the classes, so we only met up for dinner at Pho 24, a popular restaurant for the beef soup noodles. Later, he drove me to another place for cup of coffee. There we chatted until midnight.
Pho (Beef soup noodle).
The next morning, since Lucy was still in Hong Kong and Andy was having school, i took up the one day tour to Cao Dai temple and Cu Chi tunnels that cost only US$5.
Breakfast, pho (Vietnamese beef noodle).
On the tour route i purchased, which included the tunnels and temple, i stopped by a local handicraft factory where handicapped workers make beautiful artworks of Vietnamese souvenirs such as plates, vases, umbrellas, oil paintings, etc.
The main working place.
Eggshells using for making the plate.
You can see the whole process of oil painting.
The beautiful plates and oil paintings made by the handicapped.
The amazing masterpieces.
I was then brought to Tay Ninh to visit the great Grand (Cao Dai) Temple, a place of pilgrimage for quite a few South Vietnamese people. The Grand Temple at Tay Ninh is an impressive and colourful structure, usually visited as part of day out to the Cu Chi Tunnels. In time for its noontime prayer service, you will enjoy a peculiar solemn ceremony accompanied by special religious hymns with followers attired in livery red, yellow, blue and white. Quite a scene for the eye and as well for snapshots.
The main entrance of Grand Temple.
The side view of the temple.
The south entrance to the compound of the temple.
A pantheon outside the Grand Temple.
The impressive and colourful sculptures.
Waiting for the noontime ceremony.
Most of you must know nothing about what the heck Cao Daism is. This is an unique religion that you might never expect to encounter. Well, Cao Daism is an attempt to create the perfect synthesis of world religions blending Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism, Hinduism and Taoism.
The interior is so grand.
The Cao Dai ceremony.
Caodaiists believe God was the religion`s founder and that teachings, symbolism and organization were communicated directly from God. Adherents of the sect engage in practices such as prayer, veneration of ancestors, nonviolence, and vegetarianism. The goal is of rejoining God in Heaven and beyond that freedom from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth - in these practices one can see the blend of the constituent religions.
It is definitely one of the most fascinating structure to visit.
Lunch at a local restaurant.
During the Vietnam-America War, the USA used 14 million tons of bombs and shells that seven times times as much as the one used during the second world war. Yet they still couldnt beat the small and poor communist country - Vietnam. Because Vietnamese had the organized tunnels system and a good guerrilla strategy. I still remember what the guide told us on the bus while heading to the tunnels after lunch.
Located some 50km from Saigon the Cu Chi Tunnels spread over many hundreds of square kilometers and are truly one of the south’s must-see attractions. Radiating like a cobweb the tunnels were dug by the Viet Cong (North Vietnamese communist guerillas) to hide close to the capital Saigon. Inside are fighting posts, kitchens, food and ammunition storage caches, hospitals, meeting chambers, command posts as well as living quarters.
The 75 miles long complex of tunnels at Cu Chi have been preserved by the government of Vietnam, and turned into a war memorial park. There is now little evidence to indicate the intense fighting, bombing and destruction that went on in Cu Chi tunnel during the war. These tunnels no doubt helped the north to victory and they remain an impressive reminder of what motivated people can accomplish.
This guy showing how the guerillas got into the tunnels in the past.
Tour guide told us everything he knows about the war.
Sticking trap with spikes.
A trap door on the jungle floor leads down into the Cu Chi tunnels. When closed and camouflaged, it is almost undetectable.
Entering the tunnel.
Obviously, the war time life was damn harsh.
This lady gave up discovering the tunnel.
This lady completed the 200m course.
The tunnels are a popular tourist attraction, and visitors now are allowed to crawl around in the safer parts of the tunnel system. Some tunnels have been made larger to accommodate the larger size of western tourists, while low power lights have been installed in several of them to make traveling through them easier and booby traps have been clearly marked. Cu Chi tunnels is the place that you should not miss a visit to the underground village. Try to experience a short and exciting trip through this labyrinth of interlaced tunnels.
the weapons gallery.
Visitors can fire an assault rifle at the shooting range there.
As usual my buddy, Andy showed up for dinner. That day we went to Quan An Ngon. I tried Hue`s style beef soup noodle. Flavour of the soup was thick and spicy, different with the common beef soup noodle i usually had.
Next, we went to a nice place for drinks. You could only see pretty girls at night, it`s true. Indeed i rarely saw any pretty girl during daytime. Each of the HOT and pretty is sitting or dancing or drinking with foreign guys. Guess their occupations might be Private Entertainer.
Forgot the name of this club. But one word i can tell is COOL.
Vietnam Part One
Vietnam Part Two