Saigon Day 1

My hostess bought me a breakfast of com – broken rice.

With noodle/egg pancake, a pork rib, other meat and some egg thing

She said it would give us ‘the power’ to tour all day.  It was a meal and a half.

First she took me to the War Remnants Museum.  It starts with photos and poster in support of North Vietnam from around the world (including a sit-in at Myer’s Park).  But there were a large number in German:

From East Germany. So absolutely nothing to do with their government's political alignment at all

They have some ordnance and captured American weapons – and I don’t think they know how rare they are.  There are several experimental types

Have you ever seen a bipod and the Colt 40mm launcher together?

A 40mm launcher. This predates the AGL by about 35 years

This is captioned as an updated M79. How awesome would a pump-action 40mm be??

They have a large selection of photos in an exhibition called Requiem – they were all taken by photographers that dies in the war.

Here I am looking at a mortar. Note clutching of clutch-purse to deter pickpockets.

The rest of the museum has info on the effects of bombing, ‘war crimes’, and the effects of defoliants – including some preserved deformed foetuses.

Outside there are several American aircraft, tanks and weapons

I did not think it appropriate to smile.

From there we went in to town.  The main market is the same as any market in SE Asia and can happily be missed.  We went to see the French architecture.  My hostess wondered why I would want to see an old building.

The Opera House

The People's Committee Building (after 1975) and my hostess

From there it was off to the Palace of Kitsch Independence Palace

Built 1962-66 and left nearly as it was in 1975.  It’s all crazy paving and pebbledash and shag pile carpets.  My hostess wondered why I took so many photos.  Not shown is the indoor pistol range.  I think I will use it as a blueprint for my house.

Reception room


Presidental secretaries' office (oooh maps)

The library

The President's Reception Room. The photo does not do it justice. Yes, the bar in the left corner is padded.

Now on to the good stuff

This is the penthouse bar and dance floor.  But it is also where the last Iroquois took off in 1975 before the tanks came through the gate on 30 April 1975.  People were hanging off the skids, being pushed out when the chopper was too heavy to take off, falling back here.  But there’s no note of that now – just 2 marks showing where someone bombed on 8 April 1975.

From the roof we descended to the basement.  In true 60s style it is a bomb-proof bunker.

The command room

NOT 60s computers, to my disappointment. These are power regulators for the comms gear.

Most of the comms gear was laid out like this, without handsets, but with the main hardware in place. Perhaps they were afraid someone would start broadcasting.


And finally . . . THE WAR ROOM:

No fighting, please!

From here we looked at the tanks that smashed through the gates of capitalism

From here we went to the Women’s Museum.  Crap!  All clapped out (not that I think it was ever un-clapped) and extremely biassed.  It decries the Americans for bombing women and children, then goes on to show how ‘heroic’ so many women and children were, and how clever they were at hiding military resources in civilian buildings.

Then we zoomed back to my homestay.

Imagine the Panmure roundabout, with 3 scooters instead of each car, everywhere, all the time, with no road rules, and double it.

View from my window

This time dinner was a very agreeable wonton soup, followed by about a kg of rambutan fruit.

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