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The land of the Blue Dragon
Like every American of my generation, I'd grown up with the Vietnam War, when everything we heard about that exotic land was associated with conflict and destruction. But the war ended more than 40 years ago, and ever since, I'd been curious. What is Vietnam like today? What are its people like, its culture? This year, I finally got to find out for myself. Our Travel Leaders International Summit would be held in Japan, and my group of travel friends decided to explore Vietnam and Cambodia. I didn't require much persuasion.
We had an early call for our first day in Vietnam. EXO had arranged for us to hit the water today, on a speedboat up the Saigon River to explore some relics of the Vietnam War. We also were joined by the final two members of our party, Tim and Margo Kennedy from Atlanta. Part of our reason for making this trip was for our friend Denise, whose father served in the U.S. Army and was killed in action in Vietnam when she was very young. We were curious to learn about the Vietnamese perspective of the war, and today we would see the famous Cu Chi Tunnels. During the war, Viet Cong insurgents dug a vast network of tunnels around Saigon and in many parts of South Vietnam, using them as hiding places for fighters and their equipment and supplies. Malaria was widespread in the cramped, damp tunnels, along with insects and other vermin. Oftentimes the fighters would spend days at a time underground. The tunnels were bombed many times by American B-52s but U.S. and allied forces were never able to wipe them out completely. The Cu Chi complex has 75 miles of underground tunnels. Some of them have been enlarged slightly to accommodate tourists. Of course I had to go in!
for more tales of my travels to Vietnam, Cambodia and Japan.
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