| good morning,
Before we start to Vietnam, we need to update the activities. There was e.g. the Tai Tai day in Oktober, just a nice travel to the Pan Men gate in Suzhou.
The Pan Men Gate is pretty Old, buit we already told you about in the page of the lantern festival. New for us was the original Gondola from Venice. As Suzhou is called the Venice of China, the Italians showed them how the real river traffic looks like - at least that's what we assume.
Another day trip lead us to Tongli. Close to Suzhou, pretty similar, anyway a touristical must, at least if you listen to Gabi. But it's also nice there.
Additionally to the nice canals, bridges and houses there are authentic people. One of them is our "wo de peng you", means our good friend. He's painting pictures and sells them only to real good friends.....
Before we leave to Vietnam we need a small snack. Or Stephan needs the snack because Regina was for a visit in Germany. The snack was a leg of lamb, a project we're talking since more than a year about. Massimo made it real and it was so yummie.... By the way, how was the weather in Germany around November?
Have we dolt you, that in the container from germany was also a Creme Brule Burner? That was the perfect dinner to do the functional test of it after the long travel.
Stephan actually misses his office slep, and gets the new impression of the Tai Tai stress. Unbelievable, starting a day with Champagner brunch.
The real check if you're underdressed, what's the latest rumors in Suzhou, have you heard about the new restaurant opening......
Ok, that much about the update on the everydays in Suzhou. Now it's time to leave for 10 relaxed days. Out flight leaves at 10pm, so we had a very calm coffee before we start.
Without collision we managed to reach the gate.
The flights were booked more or less correctly, we made it to Saigon and got also a pick up there and found our hotel rooms. Sounds like a not complicated thing but remember we're in Asia ;-) The first real impression of Saigon we got the next morning. Looks similar to China, only the people look more happy and relaxed.
There was not many time to stroll around the first day, we directly went to the Cu Chi tunnels, 50km north west of Saigon. By the way, the official name of Saigon is Ho Chi Minh City. Nobody calls it like this, even the citizens here call it Saigon. And how knows a musical called "Miss Ho Chi Minh"?
We expected a 30 minutes ride to the place, but taking the shape of the road into account it's more like one hour and fourtyfive minutes. Including the free massage. The whole area of the tunnels is nowadays a tourist attraction. With paying the entrance fee you get a guide and plenty of explanations about the life in the tunnels.
We have to salute the american troops for their choice to set up headquarters in this area. Since 1945 there were already 90km of tunnels digged, including rooms, kitchens, clinics and so on. At this time Vietnam was fighting the french. Well, history beside the american one is maybe not the core competence of the army. During the Vietnam war the tunnels were expandet to 250km.
The picture to the right shows a tunnel entrance from a hut. Don't get miss leaded by the perspective and the wide angel lense, the wooden things are benches. The tunnels were digged that small for a simple reason: The standard US soldier was too big to fit in. Well, not only the US soldiers as we found out.....
Ok, maybe we need to loose some words about the history. Vietnam was since the 19th century a colony of France. 1940 during world war II the Japanese kicked out the French and took Vietnam as their own colony until they capitulated. Ho Chi Minh, the founder of the Viet Minh Party (yes, the communist one) declared at this time the independent republic of Vietnam.
Around this time France remembered, that there was this nice colony in Vietnam and started bombing them during the negotiations with Ho Chi Minh in Paris November 23rd 1946. That was the beginn of the Indochina war. The US was happy with the independency of all nations, but they didn't want to interfere with the colony of France.
In 1957 the French were beaten but the civil war between the communists and the emporer troops was ongoing. At the Indochina conference the decision was taken, that the north of Vietnam will go to the communists and the south to the emporer. Each one with own gouvermnent, border and all (what was the story of Korea again ?).
As expected the south got help from the US and the north from Russia and China. The elections in the Republic of Vietnam were cancelled due to the concern that also the communists could win. This was ongoing for a couple of years until March 8th 1965, when the first US troops landed to fight the Guerllias in the north. 15 million tons of bombs and 4 million death later the US left Vietnam in January 27th 1973. Four years later the Socialistic Republic of Vietnam was foundet.
Promised, this was all for the history. A bit simple mindet is the shooting range in the area, directly next to a bomb crate. For cheap money everybody can shoot the weapons of the war. AK47, M16 or maybe the M3.
Stephan was brave enough to climb into the tunnels, but he didn't make it far. It's really to narrow, now space at all. It's more fun to find the chimneys from the kitchens. The smoke is filtered so you barely can smell it and it's also hard to see the smoke itself.
A brief look into the nice and harmless jungle and then we head back to Saigon......
....but not before we checked the souvenir shop. No way around it, you need to walk through ;-) we barely managed the temptation to buy some Ho Chi Minh plates.
After this not that funny day we were looking for a nice place to eat in Saigon, but hey, that's a completely different story.......