As the alarm started going off at 5:30am all I wanted to do was hit snooze and go back to sleep for a good few hours. That overnight train journey had worn me out. That wasn’t an option though as we’d booked ourselves on a trip to the De Militarized Zone for the day and it involved an early start.
Boarding the bus and finding the only seat with any kind of leg room which was good enough for a western male, we set off on the long day ahead.
Unfortunately, with this typhoon having hit the south, the weather wasn’t good, in fact it was pretty bloody awful. You couldn’t even see out the bus window for most of the journey. We stopped off at various spots within the DMZ such as the start of the Ho Chi Minh Trail and Keh Sanh where some of the bloodyest fighting occured during the war. Our tour guide was really informative and was telling us all about what really happened during the war and told us that 54 thousand US soldiers died fighting and 1.4 million Vietnamese soldiers died and yet they didn’t lose. He seemed really quite proud of that. Who can blame him really, to have lost so many more troops, yet still have hold of your own country… thats a pretty mean feat.
He told us about life after the war and explained that now that the US had left the Vietnamese were looking upon the war in a positive way. He said they now used the bomb holes to fish in and all the unused shells and left over military vehicles are being found and sold for scrap so that the local farmers can make some money from it. It was really quite amazing how up beat he was about it all. The Vietnamese seem to have a really great ability of being able to put a positive spin on everything.
We then visited the Vinh Moch tunnels which were where a lot of local people lived during the war. They would spend most of the day farming their land, yet as soon as they heard the bombers they would grab their weapons and head into the tunnels. We got to go down into these tunnels and they are very small and run for miles and miles. Thankfully we were only down there 15 minutes.
Having seen all that it was back on the bus to avoid the rain and continued on the road to the Ben Hai river which was at the heart of the DMZ splitting north and south Vietnam. On either side of the river there were gun turrets and huge poles with lots of loud speakers on. This is where they would have what they call the propoganda war. Basically shouting their views across the river.
It was all very interested although slightly ruined by the bad weather. Plus i spent the whole day looking for Charlie but I never found him…. it seems they spent a lot of time looking for him in the movies but never really saw much of him…. Illusive little chap that Charlie!
We then started the long drive back to Hue. Finally back in Hue we went for some lovely dinner at a restaurant called La Carambolle, where Gen says her meal was up there in her top three….so thats a big claim.
A few beers was then followed by an early night as we were heading to Hoi An the following day.