Well here we are – day two of my DMZ tour is over. I’ve been through the sites of the south, and now I’ve seen what remains of the north. And the best part of the whole experience – definitely the Vinh Moc Tunnels! You just can’t beat the fascinating sight of seeing how people lived in tunnels during the war.
Now that I’ve seen it all (or more accurately, not seen it given the destruction), I’ve been given just a little more of an idea of how much damage was done to this country throughout the war. With 15 millions tons of weaponry deployed by the US, it’s understandable that there’s little of the original sights left to see nowadays, although that does mean things seemed a little unauthentic in their recreations. Still, I valued the chance to understand more of what the people went through, and what happened to this land during those years.
Here’s a little insight into what I saw through my “North” Vietnam day tour – even if some of the sights were actually in the south:
Hien Luong Bridge
This bridge is part of the tour for one important reason – it is the bridge the Vietnamese crossed when they uprooted their lives and moved to either the North or South of the country.
Well… Not the actual bridge. That was destroyed. But it’s a replica of what it once was, aside from a little colour change (the red of the North is now blue, because blue represents peace, and according to the North, that’s what they were fighting for).
Back during the war years, each side of the river boasted huge loudspeakers which were used to shout each sides propaganda to the other in the hopes that their side would win in the election to unify Vietnam (the one that never eventuated). You can see a few of these located around a museum on the North side, and they’re covered in bullet holes which makes them a little more interesting.
There’s also a few other sites set up around the bridge, including a memorial on the south side for the women who’s families were separated during the war and a monument with the Vietnamese flag to the north.
Vinh Moc Tunnels
Everyone coming to Vietnam has heard of the Cu Chi Tunnels, but did you know that these systems of tunnels are located right across the country? These tunnels were essentially used by the Vietnamese as a means of survival. Much of the country was bombed heavily, and living underground provided a level of protection (or a means of hiding weapons from sight).
Not all the tunnels are open today, with many of them destroyed or unsafe (they are just holes in the ground after all). Near the old border, the Vinh Moc Tunnels are the ones to see. These tunnels stretch along more than a kilometre, over three levels with 13 entrances.
Like the Cu Chi tunnels, they’ve been revamped and adjusted for tourism.
Mine Action Visitor Centre
The Quang Tri Province (where the former DMZ was located) was the most heavily bombed province in all of Vietnam. Because of this, a whole lot of unexploded ordinance is still being found around the area. This has led to a number of groups being involved in the removal of these bombs over the years, with the Mine Action Visitor Centre set up so that visitors can get informed with what happened then, and what the groups are doing about it now.
While it’s not going to be a favourite stop for everyone, it does provide an interesting insight into the level of destruction in the area. The exhibits and images definitely give you a little lesson in history. The ordinance found around the province since the war ended that they’ve now got on display is probably the most fascinating part of the centre.
US Airport Hangar
Technically located in the south (being a US Hangar), this one would be hard to find if you’re not on a tour. To most, it would just look like an old building, but it is a former US Airport Hangar. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to go inside given the current use of the building now, but it certainly helps paint a picture of just how in the mix of things this city once was.
Quang Tri Museum
The last stop, I’m sure, is just to add a little bulk to the tour to make it seem that little bit more worthwhile.
On its own, it could be pretty interesting. But essentially, it regurgitates the information you’ll have seen at the various war museums and attractions, and goes into some detail about daily Vietnamese life (which you may have gotten lessons on at the museums in Hanoi).
There are some interesting exhibits related to the war, but only stop here if you haven’t had your fill elsewhere.
Read More at: Vietnam Travel
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