Friday, April 27, 2012

Vietnam - War

This is the last post about Vietnam.In the afternoon we went out of the city about 20 miles to the Cu Chi tunnels.  On the way out of the city I took this picture of the power lines and a junction of two roads. Unbelievable.
Fairly close to where the tunnels we stopped at a rubber plantation.  Michelin is a big player in Vietnam, and during the war they had a plantation that wasn't supposed to be bombed, so the North Vietnamese would of course hide there.
They cut slits through the outside of the bark on one side and latex drips out into pails in the bottom.
Passageway to the tunnel area.
A picture of a cashew fruit with a single nut (inside a hard shell)  hanging from the bottom.  I love cashews and always wondered how they grew.  No wonder they are so expensive, as it must be difficult to harvest them.
Walking through the jungle where the tunnels were located and a lot of fighting took place.
A guide showing us how the Vietcong (these were the guerrillas that lived in the south) would come
out of the ground, attack the Americans or South Vietnamese and then just vanish in thin air. This
 type of warfare really frustrated the Americans who thought they would be superior with all
of their heavy war machines.
He just piled the leaves on the board , replaced it and you  couldn't see it at all.

Entrance to one of the tunnels.  There were about 200 miles of tunnels in the area.  The entrances
 would have of course been covered and camouflaged.
I remember reading about these traps.  These would have been covered with leaves and if
you stepped on one end it swung like a door so you fell in the pit.
Not too pleasant ending to the fall. 
There were a number of bomb craters from B-52 bombs.  The light area in the middle is one of them.
  The tunnels were deep enough that it had no affect.
Kids had the opportunity to crawl through about 30 m of tunnel.  I passed.  If you want to have
 some interesting reading look up on you-tube - "Tunnel Rats"  These were soldiers who crawled
 down the holes with a flashlight and a gun with a knife looking for the VC.
Some models of the Vietcong soldiers.  They were men, women, kids, the Americans couldn't
 pick them out as the enemy, often until it was too late.  This lead to many unfortunate incidents
where innocent villagers were killed.
There sandals were made out of old tires, quite ingenious.
Remains of an American tank that was destroyed.

Another torture device you would step on, and the rollers would  roll up your body with the spikes.
The VC were happy to just seriously wound the Americans, because it would take 2 or 3 more
soldiers to look after the injured soldier.
This device was placed behind closed doors in huts.  If a soldier kicked the door in, it swung
down from the roof, where the soldier would automatically put his arms up to protect his upper body.
 It had a hinged section with spikes half way down that would continue and strike the soldier in the
 lower part of his body (As our guide said "no children")
You could also buy bullets and go to the shooting range.  The guns were quite loud and the
 sound when you were back in the forest was quite ominous.
The type of guns you  could shoot. Gary, you would have loved it.
Price of the bullets. (Remember 20,000 of their money (Dong) is like 1 dollar Canadian.
Rules for shooting.  Very strict , ha ha.
Rules to crawl in the tunnels.  It doesn't mention scared or claustrophobic!
Students emerging from their tunnel experience.
Another bomb crater.
Had the opportunity to try tapioca root and tea.
The smoke from their cooking fires came out quite a distance from the source, again to hide
 where the tunnels actually were.
Old bombs from the war.
Back in the city, I don't know how you would cross the street Traffic lights are just suggestions.
Our leader, the band teacher from Texas at the night market.  He bought a t-shirt and by accident gave
10-100,000 bills rather than the intended 10-10,000 bills.  He caught it right after he walked away
but you can imagine his chances of having it corrected.
 ( If you go to any of these markets, they will win) 
Highest building in Ho Chi Minh.  There are not that many tall buildings here.
Our hotel, very narrow.

Stewardesses as we checked in.  The Vietnamese women all wear this type of clothing for dress up.
 The color match ups can be very pretty.
Some of my Grade 10 students thought I needed a picture taken with one of their hats.
The old control tower at the airport where Americans left under fire in 1975. Most of the soldiers
 had left in 73, so the remaining Americans and many refugees were evacuated in a big hurry,
mostly by helicopter.  You can see the bunkers along the runway where they would have parked
their jets during the war.  About 2 million refugees left rather than stay under communism, so it
 makes you wonder why the American effort to defeat communism(even though some bad things
 did happen) was so badly thought of.(60,000 Americans died)  American war effort is very much
 looked down on in their museums,  even though one of Mao's quotes was that communism will
spread at the barrel of a gun.  The Russians and Chinese who supported the North Vietnamese
don't get much bad press either.  Also interesting to realize that right after the American presence was
 gone from the area, the communists took over nearby Cambodia, which resulted in about 2 million
 citizens getting murdered.  Any way the trip has inspired me to do a lot of reading about Vietnam, especially the war era.

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