Recent Entries


July 06, 2004


I was expecting the DMZ (De-Militarised Zone) to be a wasteland still, but it was full of paddy fields, banana trees and villages. Eucalyptus and pine trees were imported to re-forest the hillsides sprayed with Agent Orange, and the farmers have turned bomb craters into water buffalo ponds. It made the war - called 'the American War' by the Vietnamese so as to distinguish it from all the others - seem very distant. It's amazing how quickly things change in only 35 years, but I suppose it's the same as Europe after the World Wars. It felt uncomfortable being shuttled around in a van to see places where so many people died (due to unexploded mines, it's unwise to travel around without a guide). We were taken to the Ben Hai River on the 17th Parallel; the 'Rockpile'; and the Vinh Moc tunnels, where an entire villages lived on and off (10 days was the longest consecutive stretch underground) for five years. The network of tunnels was well-built and roomy if you were under 1.5 metres tall (banged heads for the rest of us), and had tiny rooms and even a 'maternity ward.' It was nevertheless dark and claustrophobic and I can't imagine what it must have been like stuck down there for so long, listening to the bombs fall. Khe Sanh, the former American air base, had mostly become a coffee plantation, but there was a small museum. It was hard to reconcile the agony in the photos with the sunshine and flowers outside. I wondered whether there will be war history tours of Baghdad one day.

Posted by Rowena on July 6, 2004 02:20 PM
Category: Vietnam
Email this page
Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):

Designed & Hosted by the BootsnAll Travel Network