28.01.2013 - 28.01.2013
View Great Escape to the East! on Tam-Jo's travel map.
Today we went on a full day tour to go to the DMZ; the Demilitarized Zone. When Vietnam was split, the Ben Hai river separated the communist North Vietnam and democratic South Vietnam. Five kilometres either side of this river was defined as the DMZ, i.e. "no man's land".
It was a long, long drive to get to the area. Lucky for us we took our Kindles and iPods! During the day we visited several important sites in the area:
- Rock Pile: This was a big hill on which the American's had a lookout point during the war. The only way they could get to the top was by helicopter.
- Ethnic Village: We didn't go into the village, we were just told to get off the bus and take a picture which was a little odd!
- Dakrong Bridge: This was a bridge near the start to one of the many Ho Chi Minh trails. There were no bridges across this particular river during the war.
- Start of one of the Ho Chi Minh trails near Dakrong Bridge: During the war, there were 26 Ho Chi Minh trails. These trails were used by the Viet Minh (North Vietnamese army) as supply routes between North Vietnam, and South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
- Tacon American Airbase: This airbase was involved in the Tet offensive which ultimately led to America withdrawing its troops from Vietnam. The Viet Minh army attacked Tacon airbase to draw the the South Vietnamese and US armies to Tacon, away from the Tet offesive targets which included the US embassy in Saigon.
- Ben Hai River: This was the river which divided North Vietnam and South Vietnam.
- The Vinh Moc Tunnels: To escape the bombing during the war, hundreds of people moved underground to live in a man-made tunnel network. Up to 600 people lived in these tunnels for 6 years. Within the tunnels there were "rooms" designated as toilets, a bathroom, a kitchen, a medical room and even a maternity room. Durng the 6 years, 17 babies were born here! It was quite shocking to see the appalling conditions which people were forced to live in to escape the violence right on their doortsep.
- American Doc Mieu Fire Base: A miitary cemetery for fallen communist soldiers. Most graves are unmarked as the identity of the deceased was unknown.
After this was the long drive back to Hue! Once back we went straight to the DMZ Bar and Restaurant for dinner and a Hue beer (definitely not our favourite beer we've sampled since being away)!
Whilst Jo went back to the hotel for a shower, I went to get a haircut. I was trying to hold out until I got to South Africa but as it's been over four months since it was last cut, my hair is a state!! It was probably the most bizarre hairdresser experience I've had. It seemed to involve all the staff in the hairdresser together with their friends who were hanging out there! Thankfully only one guy was holding a pair of scissors. The rest just stared and took photos of me on their phones. Once it was done, I had to sit for a little while longer while they all took turns having their photo taken with me. Very funny. I can't say it's the best haircut I've ever had (in fact it's probably one of the worst...he chopped way too much off the front!) but it only cost about £3 so I can't complain! Once I got back to the hotel, Jo had to even out the back for me which he'd left ridiculously long compared to the rest. Oops!!
Now that we're back in our comfy hotel, we've decided that we haven't quite got the energy to go out afterall (we did get up at 5.15am!) so instead we've bought some chocolate, got some jasmine tea and have found a trashy film to watch on the tele! Lovely!!