The Magnificent Mekong Day 7

This morning we checked out of our hotel and headed to the Cu Chi tunnels. It was about two and a half hours from Ho Chi Minh City.

As we left Saigon we saw bananas, watermelons, and other fruits being sold.

The Cu Chi tunnels were part of a Vietnam War memorial park.

There were military vehicles left from the Vietnam war around the area.

These tunnels were begun by Communist forces in the 1940s during the war to gain their independence from France. The tunnels were often dug by hand. These tunnels were expanded during the war between the North Vietnamese and the non-Communist regime in South Vietnam.

Visitor entrance to the tunnels.

The United States military aided South Vietnam and used a lot of aerial bombing and the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong went underground in these tunnels. Besides offering shelter the tunnels served as a base for the Communist attacks on Saigon.

Look at the two pictures below. Can you find the entrance to one of the tunnels? It’s there!

The video below showed our guide demonstrating how the Viet Cong disappeared!

The United States had to learn to navigate these tunnels and were called “tunnel rats” and they also had to look out for the booby traps. The area was all jungle and so it was extremely difficult to find the tunnels and escape the booby traps everywhere. Below were just a few of the various traps that were set for the S. Vietnamese and U.S. soldiers. They were quite gruesome.

We had the opportunity to go down into one of the tunnels and crawl/stoop through one section. It was dark and humid in the tunnel.

Tony took these pictures of us as we came out of the tunnel.

We saw other areas of the tunnels that had been uncovered for visitors to see.

Tapioca plant

Our guide gave us a bag of tapioca to try. It didn’t have much flavor. It reminded me of a raw potato.

On our way from the tunnels to the port we stopped for lunch at a local restaurant that served traditional food family style.

These were some of the interesting sites we saw as we headed to the port.

Our next stop was the port where we boarded the Viking Saigon, our riverboat for seven days. A staff member showed us to our room and explained where everything was located. Our luggage was already in our room. We unpacked and met our room steward, Patha.

Our cabin and the Mekong River from our French Balcony.

There were 77 passengers on board plus the crew members. The rooms were very spacious! The Viking Saigon had one lounge, one dining room, one skybar, which was on the top deck where the small pool and sun deck was located.

Before dinner there was piano music in the lounge and at 6:00 PM we had a Welcome briefing by one of the program directors and an introduction by the hotel manager.

Enrico our hotel manager

After dinner there was a Vietnamese music show in the lounge.

After the wonderful music and song we were ready to get some sleep. It was a long day and with the heat and humidity it drained our energy!

The Magnificent Mekong Day 5

We were on our way to the airport by 7:30 AM. We needed to leave early because of the rush hour traffic.

We arrived with plenty of time to check-in and go through security which was very thorough. We had a long line to wait in to get through customs.

Our flight left on time and we landed in Ho Chi Minh city at 1:13 PM. It was hot and very humid. We were told that in Vietnam they had two types of weather hot and hotter!

We transferred from the airport to the Sheraton in Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon. The locals still call it Saigon and only write Ho Chi Minh City on all documents and papers of official capacity.

Traffic was heavy in Saigon and there were PLENTY of motorbikes!

The rest of the day was free for us. We went walking on the Nguyen Hue walking street. We left our hotel and this street wasn’t very far away but we had to cross some streets which was an experience in and of itself. Even at a crosswalk you had to look both ways and cross slowly because the cars and the motorbikes might or might not stop for you. But we successfully made it to the walking street which was one of Saigon’s main streets. In 2015 it became a wide pedestrian street and it ran from the People’s Committee building with a Ho Chi Minh statue down to the Saigon River. It was a popular place for locals in the evening.

From our hotel room we could see Nguyen Hue pedestrian street.

Nguyen Hue Pedestrian Street

When we returned to our hotel we decided to have Pho soup with chicken. Dave also had spring rolls. It was a delicious meal.

Pho Soup

We ended the evening with a glass of wine at the hotel’s Wine Bar on the 23rd floor. The views were awesome.

Our guide had told us that Vietnam wine wasn’t good so we had an Italian white wine and they served it in a frosted wine glass! Delicious!

Tomorrow we will tour and learn about Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon.