June 12, 2010

uncle ho

9 million people and 4 million motorcycles make up Saigon. i arrive late and wander around the maze and find a place to stay after i have talked to the tour company about the bitch. Saigon was the seat of the southern fight in the Vietnam civil war and so there is a lot of history here.  

i start the morning at the Cu Chi Tunnels and there is a 100 meter [300 feet] section of tunnels that you can crawl through and i force myself to do it. 50% of the group turns around before the first 10 feet. it is dark and claustrophobic and i find myself focusing on my breathing and moving as quickly as possible. it feels like being buried alive and i can't imagine how it would be live underground like this for days, weeks or months.

the next stop is the War Remnants Museum which documents the atrocities of war. there is an exhibit dedicated to the photojournalists who died during the war and their work in SE Asia. it is amazing. we end the day with a drink from the top floor of the Sheraton.

the next day i meet Katrin at the Reunification Palace. i'm pretty much tapped out on Uncle Ho and the propaganda against the Americans but everyone gives this site high marks and it is a time warp. nothing has been changed since Siagon fell to the VC in 1975. as we taxi over to a gazzillion year old pagoda and the meter goes unusually fast so we suspect we are getting ripped off. when we leave the pagoda the same taxi driver wants to take us back but we decline and use another one who gets lost but at least he doesn't rip us off. here's the thing, we are both pissed about getting ripped off and it's not about the money because it was about $1US.

i have the night bus to Nha Trang so we have a massage, a drink at the Rex, dinner and Katrin sees me off at the bus.  our paths crossed in Saigon but she is on the north to south tour and i am going in the other direction. we swap information on where we have been.  we share a love of books and laugh about how much of the weight in books we are carrying around.

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