Ho Chi Minh City is in the south of Vietnam and was formerly named Saigon. Many business still go by this name. It was a hot and humid day for our tourist adventure around the city.
We began with a trip to the Reunification Palace, also know as the Independence Palace, which was the former residence of the President of South Vietnam until April 1975 and the fall of Saigon. This building has now been opened to the public as a museum showing the history of Ho Chi Minh city. It was here that the Vietnam war ended when a North Vietnamese tank crashed through the gates marking formal reunification between the two sides.
In the underground floors of the palace you can visit the rooms used as war head quarters as well as the kitchens used to carter for all the people who lived and worked in the palace.
I felt so privileged to be experiencing the history of this city with Vu who was on the last helicopter out of Saigon. She and some of her siblings made it out of Vietnam leaving some of their siblings and her mum behind. Her mum chose to stay to her with her children who didn’t fit on the chopper not knowing whether she would ever see her younger children again. It was hard hearing the history and to see the photos but I can’t imagine how you survive something like that and go on to become such kind and wonderful person. In the photos below you can see the pale grey building tucked in between the red roofed building and the tall blue one. This was formerly the CIA head office in Saigon which is were the helicopter took off from taking the people on board to a refugee camp while they awaited transport to places like Canada, Australia and the USA.
Next stop was the war museum with exhibits and photos showing the South Vietnam perspective to the Vietnam war. A horrifying and saddening as the contents are it’s so important to keep those memories alive. To educate future generations about the history of their country and to remind us all that war is awful and senseless and should be avoided at all cost.
We visited a lacquer business where we had the intricate process explained. When you see the work involved it is easy to understand why the products and furniture are so expensive. Next we went to the post office which looked like a railway station which was loud and busy with market stalls set up inside. The building reminded me of Flinders Street Station in Melbourne.
Our last stop before lunch was the Jade Emporer Pagoda – dedicated to the Buddist and Taoist deities. Visitors some to wish for wealth and babies by offering candles, paper and oil. The pagoda is filled with inscense and colour.
Lunch was at a local restaurant to sample some Com Tam also known as broken rice. It has pork and fish sauce and a fried egg. It was extremely tasty.
Then we headed back to the hotel for a rest and relax before heading back out to a roof top bar for dinner later that night.
The food was fabulous and the view even better. A great way to finish off our first tourist day in Saigon.
Photos in the blog are a mix of Iphone photos and Nikon D500 photos.