Friday, 16 July 2010


Tuesday 13 July: The central part of Ho Chi Min City is still known as Saigon and this former capital of South Vietnam is a buzzing place, throbbing with tourists and motorbikes. I take a walk around the city centre - the Hotel de Ville with it's ornate French facade (now the People's Committee Building), Notre Dame Cathedral and the Opera House are all legacies of French occupation. I end my day in a former French mansion, the cool and breezy Fine Art Museum.
In the evening I've just finished my noodle soup and spring-roll dinner at Madam Cuc's Hotel 64
when Liza and Eric arrive - it's good to see them again.
Wednesday 14: The 1960's style Presidential Palace is now the Reunification Palace and the former Museum of War Crimes is now the War Remnants Museum. On display here are chilling images and artifacts from the Indo-china (Vietnam) War. I feel increasingly uncomfortable among the exhibits and their captions - BLU-82 Seismic Bomb, Agent Orange, Phosphorus Bomb, Napalm, Cluster Bombs.
The photographs are both striking and disturbing. The more recent, in colour, are the most harrowing of all - children slowly deformed by chemical poisons or those whose limbs have been ripped apart in the short time it takes for an unexploded mine to detonate - the forgotten agony of a war's aftermath. The armed conflict ended in 1975.

Our farewell Phu noodle dinner is a sober affair.
Pictures of Saigon (some not for the faint of heart).

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