The next two days brought me to the roots of Ho Chi Minh City. The first stop for me on the third day of my trip was the Reunification Palace or Independence Palace. Home and workplace of the South President of old Saigon during the Vietnam war, it signifies the end of the war when a North Army Vietnamese army tank crashed through the front gates. The palace itself were surrounded by greenery, all well-kept. In certain areas of the palace grounds stood fighter jets, and even the tank that crashed through the gates was on display.
Completely a postcard worthy picture. The light was ridiculously good; filtering through the uniquely designed windows. Mai and I ended up taking endless amounts of photographs (most of which I’ve had to filter out) just because of the lighting.
The palace preserved all the rooms really well, and the place was chock full of tourists. I could have sworn I heard a few Singaporeans (it’s the slang….) walking around. We passed by endless conference rooms draped in red and gold finery on the first and second floor, dining rooms and even their living quarters on the upper floors. In the extremely humid weather, we climbed all the way up to the rooftop. Thankfully there was a slight breeze on the top floor. At first I thought, “Oh that’s it?”, until Mai told me there were basements i.e. war bunkers.
We got lost looking for the stairs that would lead down to the bunkers, and we got there, it was eerily quiet (with the exception of the swarm of curious tourists). From communication centers to sleeping quarters for the President, there was even a fully equipped kitchen right above the bunkers. The rooms were small, mainly rectangular, and probably measured about the size of an average HDB toilet. We finally escaped the cold of down-under, and up we went to the historical gallery which housed hundreds of old documentations of the war.
Mai told me about a particular monk that burnt himself in the middle of the crossroads in protest.
Read the full legend about what happened to him, here: http://www.oocities.org/tcartz/sacrifice.htm
The view of the Reunification Palace from the back of the grounds. Just look at those windows; they look like slits, and yet they let in an amazing amount of light. I’m in awe.
I swear the weather was mad. I’m not the only one who thinks that, apparently.
We made our way to the War Remnants Museum straight after, since the museum would close around 5pm.
Look at the price difference between my ticket and Mai’s. 2000 VND (which is like a dollar or less in Singapore currency) is how much it costs for local students to enter the museum, and 15,000 VND is how much it cost for me to enter.
Upon entering the museum, it brought all those long history lessons to life. When they say remnants, they are not kidding. Replicas of atomic bombs, guns, documentation in the form of graphic photographs and newspaper articles were everywhere. All four floors of the museum was chock full of information. I found it even more fascinating in comparison to the Palace visit, and I definitely learnt so much more.
I decided that photographs weren’t going to do the exhibitions justice, so I shot as many footages of the exhibition on video as I could. I promise that video/vlog will be up soon, I hope.
Two floors of ‘The Effects of Agent Orange’ later left Mai and I pretty distraught, but not distraught enough for her to drag me into the torture chamber located in the backyard of the museum.
Taking history to a whole other level.
This building housed all the torture apparatus that they used back then. From spiked cages to guillotine and sand burials, the place oozed eerie.
You can actually go into the various rooms and look at the apparatus up close like I did. I was fascinated, and slightly creeped out.
After that quick exploration, Mai and I decided to head to Luxe to meet Bell.
Managed to catch a wedding happening across the street; a pretty grand affair involving a white stretch limousine.
They took me to the Diamond Plaza, similar to our Tangs or our more high-end malls. Prices of makeup and other goods there are more or less similar to that of Singapore’s, so I really spent my money reluctantly. I think I only bought one Etude House concealer (which I hardly use now, because it doesn’t suit my skin tone one damn bit).
That basically summed up the second and third day venturing around Ho Chi Minh City. Just one more day left, before we drown in the beauty that is Hanoi.
Watch my full Ho Chi Minh travel vlog here: