Monday, 30 September 2019

Tunneling Into History At Củ Chi In Vietnam

For remembering the Vietnam War, it doesn't get more iconic than the Ho Chi Minh Trail and the related jungle tunnels. A couple of hours outside of Saigon is a section of the infamous tunnel, a place that can be visited. Tour buses welcome.

One generation's war is another generation's Instagram opportunity. 

Gather 'round folks, time to review a map, complete with arcade flashing lights for helicopter fire. Direct hit!

War as demo. Despite the onslaught of tourists, the place is authentic and tangible.

Platter of bombs.

Heading (butting?) in. Tunnel kitchen.

Conference room.

Mannequins are around, better to illustrate who was at the tunnels. Or ready to be in your selfie. Summing up the experience: a gun and mud.

A North Vietnamese propaganda film from the 1960s plays in a theater, a reminder of the Vietnamese' resolve and dream to gain independence.

Friday, 27 September 2019

Grim Memories At Saigon's War Remnants Museum

Of course Saigon has a museum devoted to the Vietnam War. Or, as the Vietnamese naturally label it, The American War. They've gathered a few pieces of US military hardware and a lot of pictures to illustrate the conflict. A lot of statistics and quotes are used to reinforce the Vietnamese view of the war, a natural result. History is written by the winners.

There are few actual items to look at, mostly big toys out front.

The uniform of GI Katcher.

A prison re-creation, bending the limits of 3D perspective. You're supposed to be on a deck looking down on a giant row of cells.

Prison cell hell.

Prison cell hell, equality edition.

Back outside, a murderer's row of bomb shells.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Doing The Big Shop At Chợ Bình Tây In Saigon

Right in the center of Saigon's Chinatown is a major market, full of retail and wholesale you-name-it. Tennis shoes, office supplies, squid, just put it on your list.

Big market, big entrance.

The place is busy, busy, busy. Pick up, drop off, have lunch. The mantra of the market, specialize. Become the barrette king!

Or maybe kitchen supply is more your speed.

Don't forget the dishes. Or the dishes for lunch, a woman busy packing Tiffin for the hungry clientele throughout the area.

Back to specialization. You need dried shrimp? What size?

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

The Private Areas Of Independence, Reunification Palace

Moving on to other areas of Reunification Palace, the swish design aesthetic continues.

Tired of world negotiating? Retreat to your private movie theater. Red, rich.

President's quarters and dressing area.

The library.

Basement kitchen and pool table, complete with calming background painting.

Game room. Ready for a good ol' hullabaloo.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

The Official Areas Of Independence, Reunification Palace

Cool on the outside, swanky on the inside. Reunification Palace is a beautifully preserved time capsule of Imperial era architecture, a sparkling example that must have inspired countless evil dictator and James Bond movies.

Heading in.

Banquet Hall. Powerful.

President's and Vice President's offices.

Communist conference hall. Red.

National Security chamber and reception area of the President's office. Curtains.

The Lifesaver row of important telephones in the Security chamber room.

Vice President reception room. Second floor landing with giant circular rug.

Handy helipad. Just in case.

Monday, 23 September 2019

Independence, Reunification Palace In Saigon

Both significant in history and architecture, the Reunification Palace in the center of Saigon offers a great lesson in design and human conflict. Enjoy the style of the building, digest the bloody conflict that ended at its front gate.

The first marvel is the swanky, 1960s International Style of the building. Early in the Vietnam War, an old French palace that stood on the land was bombed and the decision was made to replace rather than rebuild. Noted local architect Ngô Viết Thụ was hired to design the palace, completed in 1966.

Grand view when approaching the Palace.

The exterior is lined with bone-like stone louvers, looking a little like Gaudi got hold of the plans and did a little embellishing. The louvers serve a purpose, shielding a bit of the hot, tropical sun.

Second floor hallway, pure Mies van der Rohe minimalism.

Out back, a little nod to Italian Fascist architecture. Everything is a grand gesture. Double height windows and curtains revealing a twisting staircase.

One more view of the lovely louvers.

Friday, 20 September 2019

A Wander Around Saigon

Ho Chi Minh City (still Saigon to most people) offers a nice mix of modern development with traditional shopping and preserved, historical architecture.

The place to go for old (and replica) military surplus, Dan Sinh market. "Yes, special on dengue pills today!"

Turning plastic textiles into bags, a thing. The standard colors and font for small market signs, found all over the city, one remnant of the French period.

A holiday creche display outside the biggest church in Saigon, Notre Dame.

A few communist reminders dot the city, mostly murals. Gift wrapped tires.

One of the best preserved buildings from the French era, the main post office. Now complete with a big Ho Chi Minh portrait.