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zondag 15 maart 2009

Ho Chi Minh - Day 4

As expected, today was a lot more fun. Even though we spent most of the time in the bus, and the tour was just as touristy, the sights were a lot cooler.

After a four hour drive (for a mere 96 km) we arrived at the Cao Dai temple. Cao Dai is a mixture of Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. One of their saints is Victor Hugo fro some reason. We visited their holy see in Tay Ninh. The main building is a prime example of the word kitsch. They've got dragons spiraling columns, a ludicrous amount of Divine Eyes, images of Buddha, Christ and Lao Tze; and all of this in exaggerated colors. Is it a must see? Not really, but you can't help leaving the place with a faint smile on your lips.

We then proceeded to the Cu Chi tunnels. During the Vietnamese-American War, US troops controlled Saigon. The Viet Cong controlled most of what was outside of the city. Their main camp was to be found at Cu Chi (or better never was found). The Vietnamese started digging tunnels at the start of their War of Independance, initially against the French. By the time the Americans came to play, an elaborate network was created in which the VC lived, cooked, studied and fought the ennemy. During the visit, we were shown a part of the tunnels (especially enlarged for us westerners), the erstwhile living conditions, and the cruel spiky traps they left for the GI's. Before the actual tour started a video was shown, with footage from the sixties. Pure old school propaganda about the American killers War Heroes and other victories. Brilliant. At the end of the tour there is a possibility to shoot with one of the guns that were used back in the day for about a dollar a pop. I couldn't resist the AK 47. I probably didn't hit a thing, but it was fun though.

That about wraps it up for our stay in HCMC. Tomorrow we'll be flying to Ha Noi.

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