Today was my first full day of tourism, and I aimed for the main tourist spots of HCMC starting with the War Remnants Museum which has a small but good collection of tanks and aircraft outside and a whole lot of photos and such inside. Hollywood has produced I don’t know how many films about the Vietnam war (or the American war as they say here) and even though many of them have been anti war, they have all been from an American perspective; it’s interesting to get the Vietnamese perspective on it. I highly recommended it for anyone with even a passing interest in the war.
A few of the ranks and aircraft on display.
A so called tiger cage where they would keep prisoners as a punishment
After the museum I visited the Reunification Palace which used to be the presidential palace for the South Vietnamese. I’m used to European castles and palaces that were all built a long time ago, this was much more modern. Kind of cool to see 1960’s sumptousness. I also liked the bunker underneath the palace.
The front of the palace
The fountain in front
One of the North Vietnamese tanks that rolled through the palace gates on April 30 1975, the day of the South Vietnamese surrender.
The plane used by Lieutenant Trung, a communist party member who had infiltrated the Southern Republics air force, to bomb the palace.
The main reception hall
The small garden in the president’s private quarters
The helicopter that was always at the ready on the roof. Also the markings for where lieutenant Trung’s bombs fell.
The last point of sightseeing for the day was the Vietnamese History Museum. It had a fairly large collection but I was a bit underwhelmed. Maybe I was expecting something more grandiose. The museum building was nice though, some kind of old mansion or similar.
The front of the History Museum
To end the post I would like to show a few shots from the area around Pham Ngu Lao, often referred to as the Backpacker Ghetto. During the day it is lively and buzzing in that way all major asian cities are,with people living their lives and doing their work on the street. The restaurants and bars however, which all aim at western customers, are empty save for a few people. At night however, the street is awash with multicolored lights and music spills out from the bars which are full of revelers. Partying backpackers mingle with the massage girls and bar staff trying to entice customers. It’s quite a transformation.