Monday, 18 February 2013

Saigon became Ho Chi Minh City

At Da Nang airport en route to HCMC  (not good!)

Ho Chi Minh died in 1969, but it was not until 1976 that the country was re-united.

There had been an increasing American awareness that the South Vietnam regime was corrupt and cruel.

This awareness led to what was called the “Vietnamisation” of the armed forces in the South as American forces began their long withdraw under President Richard Nixon.

Sans major American support  the South Vietnamese army was no match for the North Vietnam Army and the Viet-Cong (southerners who sided with the Hanoi Government).

Any thought of a peaceful withdrawal of all American forces ended with Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese-Viet Cong forces in 1975.  Folks of my generation will remember the T.V. footage of the chaos in Saigon as we Americans, and as many South Vietnamese who could fled the country.

In 1976 the two parts of Vietnam were united, and Saigon was renamed Ho Ch Minh City.  The equally brutal Communist regime sent over 1 million southerners to “re-education camps” (where 165,000 perished). In addition between 100,000 and 200,000 American sympathisers were put to death. And a further 50,000 died in forced labour camps.  The new Government introduced full scale Soviet style Communism with a command economy and collectivisation of farms -  with the disastrous results of poverty, famine and ill health.

Some of the above is courtesy Wikipedia. (jmp)

In 1986 the government began a series of economic and political reforms  which have transformed the country into a business centred capitalist society.  The country is choc filled with small businesses, entrepreneurs, and high tech manufacturing.

Nowhere was this clearer than in Ho Chi Minh City (pop 9 million and growing), with its noisy bustling streets, multiple banks, office blocks, and huge suburban industrial parks – and its awful air pollution.  Eight days back in the U.S.A. and I am only now clear of the dry hacking cough with was Saigon’s parting gift to me.

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At Chinatown in HCMC. My guide has the large hat.

In HCMC Chinatown.  My guide had no idea about the "meaning" of these costumed men.

Chinatown again 



In HCMC.  not good!




HCMC getting ready for the Tet holiday. The flat roofed building in the centre of the picture is one of two  places  from which Americans and their sympathizers were evacuated from Saigon when the City fell to the Viet-Cong

"Our Lady of Peace" outside Saigon's R.C. Cathedral

Newly weds come to the Cathedral for their wedding photo's

Notre Dame Cathedral (built by the French)




The Handsome Central Post Office

Inside the Post Office




My stomach was a bit upset when I arrived in HCMC.  Coconut milk before lunch helped to calm it.





Presidential Palace of former South Vietnam Government.

View from Presidential Palace

In grounds of former Presidential Palace

War Map room of South Vietnamese Govt.

Radio room of South Vietnamese Govt.

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Dogs are well loved in Vietnam

Sapphire Hotel HCMC (where I stayed for three nights)

Sign at Hotel lift!

HCMC's talleest building from my bedroom at night. I nick-named it the "Saigon Gherkin"

Outside the Hotel. An electrician's nightmare.

Getting ready for the Tet Holiday.

A nice park, viewed from my hotel room.

Cityscape, from my hotel room

In HCMC the streets are swept!

Boats from the Mekong Delta bring plants, animals, vegetables to see from the banks of the Saigon River


I'll post  few more HCMC/Saigon photo's tomorrow..

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