War and Peace in Saigon

A recent trip to Saigon gave our contributor, Michelle Lee, the chance to explore Vietnamese hospitality in four short days. After trying out original Vietnamese noodle (Pho), she went off to experience the attractions in the city. In this second part of the four-part story, she visited a contrast of experience, that of war remnants from the Vietnam war, and of the uniquely Vietnamese religion of Cao Dai.

Stuck in the mud, this tank wont be going nowhere. Photo credit - nimboo.

Stuck in the mud, this tank won't be going nowhere. Photo credit - nimboo.

The easiest way to get to great sightseeing and historical sites located at the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, is to book a tour with the local tour agency. There is an assortment of half-day to two-day tours offering different tour packages. With so much to explore, I took a day-tour to visit the Cu Chi tunnels and the Cao Dai Temple, reserving the Mekong Delta expedition for the next day.

The cramped walkway in the Chu Chi Tunnels. Photo credit - gitgat.

The cramped walkway in the Chu Chi Tunnels. Photo credit - gitgat.

The Cu Chi tunnels are glorious remnants left behind from the Vietnam War, used by the Vietnamese in defeating the Americans. It runs 600 km long and 0.5m to 1m wide, just enough space for a person to walk bending over.

We took a 100m “trial” walk in the tunnel, through amazingly small enclaves and secret entrances. By the end of it, everyone was silently cursing under their breath as our thighs ache from constant squatting. There are also various display life-size bombs, craters created by the bombings and merciless booby traps.

Cao Dai Temple. Photo credit - cblee.

Cao Dai Temple. Photo credit - cblee.

After the gruesome displays of violence, we wanted to have a change of scenery. We headed to the town of Tay Ninh to visit the Cao Dai Temple – a stark contrast to our previous destination. The Cao Dai religion embraces beliefs and teachings from Buddhism, Taoism and Christianity as one. Known as the Religion of Many Spirits, this relatively new religion (established in 1926) claims up to 6 million following in Vietnam, its place of origin.

Their colorful ceremony is interesting to observe. An orchestra of musicians and a choir of youths led the congregation in prayer. The music, a combination of western Christianity and Vietnamese melodies, is both very exotic and incredibly spiritual. Monks and nuns donned in different colored robes fill the hall of the temple, symbolizing their spiritual allegiance within Caodaism: yellow for Buddhism and virtue, blue for Taoism and pacifism, or red for Confucianism and authority.

Temple Ceremony. Photo credit - sugarmeloncom.

Temple Ceremony. Photo credit - sugarmeloncom.

Next, in the third part of this four part story, Michelle sets off towards the Mekong Delta day tour and explored the floating markets. Check back in the coming week! Part I: Pho for the President

About the Author. Michelle Lee. There is an idea behind every writing, and magic in bringing words to life. For Michelle, words create worlds beyond ours. A writer based in Singapore, Michelle seeks to inspire thoughts, ignite emotions, and explore the unfound as much as boundaries can be ventured into. Her inspirations spiral from overseas escapades filled with wild diversities of culture and traditions. “Abandoning responsibilities, work and the hustles of life to a place where everything is fresh, new and alienated. That, is sheer fascination.”

Comments

7 Comments on "War and Peace in Saigon"

  1. Vietnam Travel | 7 Top Attractions in Ho Chi Minh City | Unearthing Asia on Mon, 15th Mar 2010 12:27 pm 

    […] of Vietnam’s biggest tourist attractions, the Chu Chi Tunnels are a network of underground caverns built during the Vietnam War. About 121 kms long in total, […]

  2. Vietnam Holiday: Exploring Ho Chi Minh City | Unearthing Asia on Mon, 29th Mar 2010 7:46 pm 

    […] Michelle Lee, the chance to explore Vietnamese hospitality in four short days. After an eventful three days of touring, she shares her experiences exploring Ho Chi Minh in the final day! The heavily French […]

  3. Floating Market and Elephant Ears | Unearthing Asia on Mon, 29th Mar 2010 7:48 pm 

    […] hospitality in four short days. After trying out original Vietnamese noodle (Pho), and visiting the war remnants in Vietnam, she heads toward the Mekong Delta to experience the colorful floating market. The colorful Cai […]

  4. southeast asia travel on Thu, 5th Aug 2010 5:33 am 

    Being an archaeologist , i have a deep interest in remnants of historical places and i love to study about them but when i went through your article i found some similarities between Cu Chi tunnels and Bara Imambara which is located in the north part of India and finally came at conclusion that both of them had been made for security purpose.

  5. hawaii vacations on Thu, 5th Aug 2010 9:51 am 

    i think travelling is of the unique way for relaxation.when i travel alone i feel very happy.i dont like noise and polution mostly i travel hilly place.if you have idea about amazing hilly place then share with me.

  6. 7 Top Attractions in Ho Chi Minh City | Ho Chi Minh Spa Massage on Wed, 19th Sep 2012 9:08 am 

    […] of Vietnam’s biggest tourist attractions, the Chu Chi Tunnels are a network of underground caverns built during the Vietnam War. About 121 kms long in total, […]

  7. 7 Top Attractions in Ho Chi Minh City | Spa Massage – Spa Ho Chi Minh – Saigon Spa – Spa HCMC on Sun, 23rd Sep 2012 6:09 am 

    […] of Vietnam’s biggest tourist attractions, the Chu Chi Tunnels are a network of underground caverns built during the Vietnam War. About 121 kms long in total, […]

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