We headed off quite early to catch the hydrofoil down the Saigon River. We had a seat up the front of the boat and watched the houses mangroves tankers and other river craft glide by.
We alighted at the town of Vung Tau which served as a rest area for the Aussie and American service men. Next stop were some more tunnels built y the Viet Cong. These were not as extensive as the ones we saw yesterday but just as deadly. Most of us went through these tunnels as they had been made a lot higher. In one of the levels there were slits going through grass where Viet Cong waited for the enemy to walk past and then they shot them. They always aimed to maim not kill as it meant that soldiers would have to take the wounded back with them. Seeing the tunnels made me realise how scary it all would have been to walk through the forest and then gunfire comes up from the ground.
Next stop Nui Dat - The main Australian base - not a lot was left here but our .guide explained where everything had been and how it was all set up. Again it was an strange being in the place that i had heard so much about. We travelled into a near by town to collect some roses and the plaque for the Lon Tan memorial (They keep it at the local government offices it has been pinched before and keeping it safe means lots of bribes for the local people.)
Lon Tan is a Rubber plantation and has surprisingly little cover, the memorial is in the centre of it. There was a real atmosphere about the place that was unexpected. ( At least by me)
Our guide Bin (Wombat) explained exactly what had taken place and then conducted a simple service and a minutes silence and then each of us laid a flower on the memorial. The Vietnamese always had respect for the Australian Soldier as they were there with out choosing to be and after the Lon Tan battle the Australians ferried a lot of wounded Vietnamese to safety. Not much respect for the Americans though.
Last night we had driven past the memorial where the Monk had set himself on light in protest to the War. I remember seeing this on the TV in the seventies. We described it as a protest against the War The Vietnamese described it as a protest against American Atrocities. I think both versions are accurate. We changed into our bathers at a resort which was once used by the Americans and had a couple of hours swimming at the beach. The water was so warm and we constantly moved the kids backup the beach as there was a strong down shore drift. We sang all the way back to the hydrofoil. all the tour guides here sing so we have been teaching each other all sorts of things.
Back to ho chi min city, and some bargained at the night market and 8 of us experienced a hot rock massage, this was a real experience and left us all tingling from head to foot. and ready for a blissful nights sleep.
We leave Ho Chi Min City this morning it is an amazing part of the World and not as confronting as I thought it would be. Each day and every meal seems to be better than the last. Its a privilege to be sharing this with a group that are so willing to join in and to learn. We are all fit and healthy, there have been a couple who have felt a bit seedy at times but they have all made preventative measures that are working.
Can't wait to see what today brings!