A new experience – instead of a night train with sleeper berths, now we did a night bus – kind of wild – two tiers of beds, three across, you can see how they recline back.
we were in the back – they had 5 “beds” next to each other – perfect for our family -I guess we slept – periodically
Hue: Vietnam seemed to always be ruled by other nations- especially the Chinese, then the French, then the Vietnam war. Anyways, for about 200 years (prior to the French) Vietnam was a united country under the Nguyen emperors and its capital was Hue. It is considered a national treasure and recognized as a Unesco World Heritage sight. The “Citadel City” , built in the 1600’s – has a moat around the whole citadel, which is a couple of square miles. Within the Citadel, is the Forbidde where the emperor and and his court lived. It’s surrounded by a second moat. It is quite an architectural wonder – there are pictures dating back to the 1940’s of royal processions etc. It was also the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam war. While the Americans were fighting elsewhere, the North Vietcong entered Hue and took it over. However, they also rounded up the wealthy – bankers, merchants, political foes in house to house searches and killed over 2500 prominent citizens. The southern forces with the US wanted to take it back and a lot of the palace area was destroyed in the fighting. It is slowly being refurbished as the funds become available.
check out how thick the outside wall is
I am unsure what there is to poach – rats?
The moat and entrance to the forbidden city – palace
There are 12 cauldrons made of bronze – weighting ??? lbs – each for a Nguyen ruler – one ruler began his rule at the age of 13
The other reason for going to Hue is that it is close to the DMZ zone – the divide between the North and the South during the Vietnam or as they call it the American War. This area was where the North murdered fleeing civilians as they were taking it over. The shrine below was built for this reason.
A French Church where the North set up a command post. There was a battle here – see the next picture and you can see the machine gun holes etc.
Our guide was from the south. Therefore, we heard the views of the “losing” side. Natalie’s since read a couple books about the war, and it’s pretty clear that both sides “lost.” Anyway, our guide was a second captain – a recon guy for the GI’s. Incredible stories – he actually would tear up and get quite emotional explaining what when on in the different areas we visited – because he was there himself and lost friends. After the war, he was sent to a “re-education camp” for 2 and a half years.When he was released, the government had taken his home and confiscated his assets. He and his wife are both lawyers. His wife was practicing for five years before the war ended. Now, since they are “blacklisted,” they can’t get any jobs. He gives these tours and his wife has been selling bananas. We want to post this section, but Natalie wants to blog a little more on this subject – she was in the back of the tour van and was able to hear more stories.
He explained that this leaf would shrivel up when you touched it – then after 20 minutes it would rebound to its normal size – therefore, as he brought GI’s into the jungles, he could tell if any VC were nearby based upon how much the leaf was shriveled up or not.
Ho Chi Minh Trail
Con Thien Firebase – the major American base where GI’s could take a break from fighting, hospital, etc. – a big area, but you can see it is now a rubber tree plantation. The VC would launch rockets into this area from Laos. They would take about 4 minutes to arrive – so when the air warning was sounded, they headed toward the bunkers prior to them arriving.
Still considered dangerous to go outside of the boundaries – unexploded ordnance still around
at the peak of the area – good visual vantage point – note concrete bunker – only war remnant left to see
Tube from rocket propelled launcher still lying there
Troung Son Memorial Cemetary – for Northern VC fighters – we asked the guide if there was any cemetary for the southern forces – there isn’t.
The demarcation line – the Ben Hai River – the split between North and South, created at the Geneva Convention truce talks after the Vietnam-French war. The south at the time had a ruler who was catholic and did not want anything to do with the communist north – you can see the old bridge – the northern half was painted red and the southern half was painted yellow. The flat country side on both sides of the river was bombed repeatedly. A photo that we saw looked like a moonscapemfrom all the craters from the bombs
Vinh Moc Tunnels – in their original condition, unlike the tunnels in Siagon where they have been reinforced for tourists. This was a community that built 3 levels of tunnels – the third level is actually 70 feet under ground – it was used to live in but also to smuggle Russian and Chinese weapons that came in from the sea, stored in the tunnels, then at night were hand lifted out to the HoChi Minh trail via Laos. The VC then travelled through Laos to attack the south. At the surface level you see trenches -these were for if you got caught outside when a bombing run was being made. They could follow the trench and it would bring them to an entrance.
This is a ventilation shaft
Here we go – went to all the levels – therefore, we were actually 70 feet underground – stay close to the guide who had a flashlight. I (Tim) was fumbling around for my camera and lo and behold when I looked up the group must have gone around a corner, because I was left there in the black – run quick and hope there was only one path – there was
you could actually scrape the clay off the side walls – They had a eating room, birthing room, hospital room, – a number of kids were born in the tunnel.
Different levels would come out on the seaward side of the hill
Chinese and Russian weapons would be smuggled in off the coast to these tunnels.