2000. It was the year when I last rode a plane from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to Manila, Philippines. Since then, I have been wanting to ride again and visit countries. It has been always my dream to travel the world, engross myself in different cultures, taste the food and simply enjoy. Fast forward to 2014, my dad was encouraged by a good friend of ours, who I consider like my older brother, Kuya Jeremiah to visit Asian countries since they don’t require a visa for us Filipinos and you can conquer different countries by simply crossing the land borders, which is cheaper than a plane ticket. Needless to say, my dad bought it and fast forward again to May 2015. We bought our tickets online via Cebu Pacific and I am very thankful for the helpful assistants by the desk, who gave us tips on what is the latest in the airport rules.
12th of May. Our flight was scheduled at 10:50pm in NAIA Terminal 3. We arrived on NAIA at around 5:00pm (talk about being excited), but it’s better early than late. Speaking of being excited, I was really overjoyed that my dreams are turning to reality and that caused my heart rate to increase, my appetite turned sour and I felt I would vomit if I ate anything. My tummy was so upset and I just couldn’t sit in one place. The flight schedule was a bit late for a few minutes, but it was fine with me, as long as I hopped on the plane I wouldn’t mind waiting. We arrived on the Tan Son Nhat International Airport Terminal 2, 20 minutes behind schedule and the weather was a bit hot similar to the weather in Manila. Our good friend, Sir John fetched us by the Arrival Section and I felt sleepy cause all my energy was spent on the plane. I was wide awake and did not sleep at all. Heehee.
Our host, Sir John and his wife, Ma’am Melanie are English teachers in Vietnam. They were my parent’s good friends and Ma’am Melanie was my former high school teacher. We stayed at their place for 3 days and my family is deeply thankful for the warm welcome. Ho Chi Minh City It is formerly known as Saigon and is very famous for its role in the Vietnam-American War. Ho Chi Minh is the name of Vietnam’s beloved leader, who ignited his people’s hearts to fight for their country. Vietnam’s time is an hour delayed from the Philippine time.
Our first trip started early the next day. Sir John booked us a ticket at The Sinh Tours to the historical Cu Chi Tunnels. It was a long ride, probably because I slept on the bus. We then stopped by a souvenir shop where handicapped people work and we’re able to enjoy their creations although it was a bit expensive. You can’t help but marvel at how meticulous they are in their works considering they were made from egg and sea shells. After the souvenir shop, our next destination was the Tunnels. It was located right through the Rubber Tree Forest. I was in awe of how the Vietnamese took care of their forest and historical sites. They are very proud of their heritage and have taken great measures to preserve it.
The Cu Chi Tunnels are man made tunnels dug by the Viet Cong with their own hands. These tunnels have three levels, the first is for war purposes, the second and third are for living. Reminds me of the dwarves in the Lord of the Rings who lived beneath the earth.
But unlike the majestic halls of the dwarves, these tunnels were built small, enough for the body frame of a Vietnamese and there are hundreds of entrances that have deathly traps for enemies who dared to enter. Through this tunnels, the Vietnamese won the war. Their dedication, resilience and strategic planning paid off. According to our guide, there were 16,000 Viet Cong who entered these tunnels and only 4,000 lived after the war, the rest died in those tunnels. Today the tunnels have been restructured by the government for tourist purposes.
On our way to the Tour. Motorcycle is the number one mode of transportation here.
We watched a documentary about the history of the American-Vietnamese War.
Samples of the different traps created by the Viet Cong to combat the American soldiers. The thought of it made me sick!
This scarf had 3 purposes.
2. Wiping and cleaning
3. Mask during meetings
Into the tunnels. For those with asthma, claustrophobia, heart and back problems this is definitely not recommended.
It was a fun and informative trip. We were all tired and everyone slept on the bus except for the driver of course! They drop us by the Sinh Tours Office and we had our lunch. We then took a taxi to visit the Palace of the former President.
The Palace was grand and beautiful. It was partly destroyed during the war but was restored by then. After touring all the rooms in the Palace we then proceeded to the War Remnants Museum.
WARNING: There are pictures that are a bit disturbing.
The War Remnants Museum will show how some Vietnamese who are considered traitors along with others during the war were tortured and executed. They preserved the guns, hammers, and torture devices used during that time.
Are you okay guys? This blog isn’t done yet. We were done around past 3pm and decided to visit the Post Office before heading for our dinner with the rest of our host’s family.
That ends our Day 1 escapade in Vietnam. I’ll posting more about our 2nd and last day in Vietnam tomorrow! Hope you guys enjoyed it. You may check my account on Instagram @nicagerona for videos and pictures of my Vietnam trip.
Merci beaucoup et á bientôt!