Saturday, September 5, 2015

South Vietnam - Saigon and Cu Chi

We took another domestic flight from central Vietnam into Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).  Ken hasn't been back to Saigon in 15 years.  He was amazed by the change.  It was a modern and beautiful city with sky rises, wide streets, and lots of green space!!  Drastically different from the capital city of Hanoi!  We spent our first day exploring the city.  It was also drastically cooler in Saigon.  I don't know if it was just because of the cloud cover... it was very overcast, but it never really rained on us.  No complaints from us though, we loved the 80 degree temps every day!!

Cathedral down town ... only cathedral we saw in Vietnam

Post office.
The town hall was my favorite building in Saigon...very French looking and situated at the top of a hill that was entirely pedestrian all the way down to the river (and our hotel).  It was a fabulous place to let the kids run off energy and people watch.  There were also lots of fun street performers at night.  Very fun place to explore!

The town hall

Pedestrian zone connecting the town hall to the river ... lined with sky scrapers, restaurants, and shopping

Fountains in the pedestrian area
lots of green space down town!
Selfie in front of iconic skyscraper downtown ... taken from the pedestrian area

Visiting a temple in Saigon ... built for a women that saved her family at sea and believed to bring protection in the water to all who worship here

Dragon bush in the temple cute!

typical street scene in an older district of the city
Donuts anyone??
We ran into this donut man on the way to do some shopping at the market.  Nicholas was grumpy because he didn't want to shop.  He wanted to stay at the hotel and play minecraft. 

Famous market in Saigon ... we found prices to be significantly elevated compared to Hoi An!!!  Even with Mrs Doan doing the negotiation, it was still significantly more expensive here!!

Parking lots look very different when everyone drives motorcycles

dried goods at the market

Snack stalls were everywhere at the market

poor guy lugging 3 boxes up the stairs on his back

For father's day, Ken wanted street food for dinner.  The pork sandwiches were good, but we actually preferred the ones in Hoi An. 
We went to the opera house to see the AO show.  It was spectacular!!!  It was an acrobatic show weaving in tradition Vietnamese farming tools and traditions.  I'm sure that doesn't come close to describing it, but it was an amazing show!!!  We really enjoyed it!!!

Bad lighting, but love the devilish look on Nicholas' face

Waiting for the show to start

Happy father's day!

I get some love too!  Didn't know that Nicholas was giving Jaden bunny ears though!!
 Our hotel in Saigon, was right on the river... here are some pictures from the rooftop....

We took a day trip from Saigon to visit the Cu Chi tunnels.  These are the tunnel systems used by the North Vietnamese during the Vietnamese war.  We learned a lot about the war and I think it was a bit hard for Mr and Mrs Doan to see.  Mr Doan was put in jail during the Vietnamese war because he was educated and wealthy and therefore deemed a threat to the communist cause. 

Jaden popping out of one of the personal entrances to the tunnel system in Cu Chi

Boys thought it was so fun ... just their size!

Ken was a bit more cramped.  He's holding the lid used to hide these entrances/exits in the jungle

once covered, you would never know where these tunnels exist

My turn to try it

Larger entrance for equipment and supplies

learning about some of the traps used by the north on the American troops
more traps
a very dense jungle

Looks like a giant anthill, but it's manmade.  Their way of ventilating the tunnel system ... and allow an escape for smoke from their cooking underground

An abandoned American tank becomes photo op

Yes that's a scorpion in our path!

Some kind of centipede in our path

Learning about various bombs and shells used in the war

Ice cream break!  (It's hot in the jungle!)

Footwear for the Vietnamese soldiers and their families made from the rubber of old tires.  Reduce Reuse Recycle right?

About to enter the tunnels

Entering a portion of the tunnels we were allowed to explore

Inside the tunnels.  Nicholas could stand, but even Jaden had to stoop a bit. 

Not only were they short, but narrow too!  Ken barely fit and he's not exactly a large man.  No wonder American troops loaded with supplies struggled to fit through the tunnels.

One of the dining halls underground

Underground cooking.  The smoke from the stove was piped several meters away and the smoke came up through one of those anthills. 

Silly boys

That's a cashew nut

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