As part of the history lessons for the boys we have taken the opportunity to investigate the Vietnam war. Considering that the war finished when I was three years old this was a period that I did not know as much about as perhaps I should.
To this end we visited two locations: Cu Chi tunnels where you can see the underground tunnels that the Vietcong used as a base of operations for their attacks against the Americans. You also get to see some of the booby traps that they employed. Simple, but devastatingly effective.
The tunnels themselves for the tourists are 50% larger than the original ones to cater for the larger tourists. Even with this larger size, it is not for the mildly claustrophobic. You will be bent over and crouching most of the way around. Quite sobering when you considered that some Vietnamese lived in the tunnels for a period of three years.
We resisted the urge to have a go on the firing range where you could fire some of the guns from the Vietnam war against paper targets of elephants.
The second location that we visited was the War remnants museum in Ho Chi Minh City. This is a very sobering and graphic collection of artefacts and photos from the Vietnam war.
The photos from the war itself bring home the horrors of war, from the inhuman treatment of the PoWs, by the South Vietnamese guards, the indiscriminate bombing of villages, the use of napalm and Agent Orange, as well as the ongoing birth defects that still occur 2/3 generations on.
The overall view presented has a very pro-Communist, anti American bias, but in light of the suffering that the Vietnamese suffered, and continue to suffer, this is understandable.