The DMZ

Skipping back to the end of June this year (yip all over the show now… I am writing on our time in Vietnam where we spent a month traveling from the north to the south). After our few days in the lovely and quaint city of Hanoi we decided to take the train down to a town called Hue. We booked the overnight train which we jumped on at 2300 and arrived only a couple of hours late at 1300 the next day. On the trains in Vietnam, one is woken around 0600 when they turn the Rail TV on to a level of volume that one might only dream of being able to sleep through after being awake for most of the night in a reclining chair due to not being able to get a sleeper cabin even a week in advance (dam peak season).

So aside from Rail TV waking the both of us from our ever so light sleep it was in fact a pretty enjoyable train ride, watching the scenery go by along with watching the different family’s on board traveling to their holiday destinations and let me tell you the average Vietnamese family traveling on these trains travels with everything but the kitchen sink! I’m straying yet again from the topic… with the topic being the DMZ just north of Hue (well when I say just north, it was still a good three hour car ride in which I willed us to stay on the road and keep all cars, buses and trucks from hitting us the whole way there and back!

A few stops we made along the way to look at a few memorial sites leading up to the DMZ. This area of Vietnam was one of the most bombed areas in military history! Many of the bombs filled with nasty things like napalm, phosphorus and herbicides. Even though most of the land is now covered in vegetation you can still see many of the craters left by the bombs exploding. However many of the bombs didn’t explode on impact, almost a third, well so they say. They continue to clear the land of these unexploded landmines, bombs and shells but incidences still happen on a weekly basis causing death or injury in both adults and children.

Local people lived in the tunnels for years, only at night would they come up above ground level to see the stars and have fresh air.

Built for little people!

The tunnel system consisted of three different levels under the ground, the dense clay in the region made it easy for the people to dig the tunnels then once dried remained extremely strong. The first level was 13m below ground level the 2nd being around 15m and the 3rd level being 24m underground!!! It took two years to build, and is linked to the sea by seven exits, these also worked as ventilation for the tunnels.

After our guide through the tunnels we headed for some lunch about a ten minute drive from the tunnels in a little coastal village. The place where we ate, as many of them do looked rather unassuming with not a soul to be seen aside from the family that would be serving us our lunch.

Not a bad view from the lunch table.

Our driver ordered lunch for us and within minutes the husband was off on his scooter to grab a few ingredients. The food was fast and fresh and tasted amazing. Served with a cold beer also!

Back in the car for the three hour drive back to Hue I dared not go to sleep I had to keep an eye out for oncoming traffic! All in all an uneventful car journey back to my surprise. Got to see some fish being dried on the side of the road, I can only guess it was for the ever famous fish sauce made in Vietnam!

 

Woman on the streets of Hanoi

We have been in Vietnam now for nearly one month, the time has flown by, and it’s safe to say we have enjoyed our time here, especially our time in Saigon (we have been staying with a good friend of mine who lives in New Zealand but is originally from here and just just so happens that he was home on holiday during our stay so we have been enjoying the best of Saigon and Phan Thiet through the eyes of a local). However you will hear more about that later, we will start from the top and work our way down. So for now Hanoi it is.

We arrived in Vietnam, from Singapore, having applied online for our Visas upon arrival we were not too sure what to expect. It could not have been simpler! We were the first of the plane and the first to get our visas put in our Passports, $50.00USD was handed over for the two of us and we were on our way, got our bags and our driver was waiting for us to take us to the hotel. After a quick refresh, we were back out the door to begin to explore the Old Quarter of Hanoi. We loved this area, there was so much going on, an overload (a good one) on all the senses. One thing in-particular that caught my eye were all the ladies that carry what seems to be a piece of Bamboo over their shoulder that has a tray hanging off either end which is carrying some form of food along with the ladies who push their bikes around with a huge pile of goods on the back.