|The view of Ho Chi Minh city on Saturday Morning|
Why Vietnam? Well my eldest son Tom is currently here as part of his travelling to Australia and other countries in the far east, post graduation and seeing as his mum and I hadn't seen him since October 2015 it seemed like a great opportunity to meet up and a fascinating part of the world to visit for a summer holiday.
|Map to illustrate our route of travel from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang and stops along the way|
Needless to say we were shattered after the long flight and on checking into the hotel went straight to bed as we had to be ready for our car journey to Nha Trang the next morning at 8.30am.
|An old market building surrounded by what look like French colonial buildings, contrast with the more modern city skyscrapers|
As a child of the sixties, growing up in the UK with images of the Vietnam War appearing nightly on the national news, this city is still Saigon to me and indeed many of the locals still refer to it that way. Either way this modern city is a curious mix of traditional Vietnamese culture, French Colonial architecture with a large smattering of skyscraper office blocks and advertising hoardings that would be familiar in any 21st Century urban city-scape in the west.
|Downtown Ho Chi Minh City, getting ready for another day|
I thought I had seen most ways of using these small motorbikes, but that was until I came to Vietnam. Here you can see family groups, four up on a small scooter, mum and dad with two small kids wedged in between, major loads of fridges and electrical equipment, bamboo and masses of palm fronds for building construction, animal cages and large non-descript shrink wrapped cartons festooned on the front and back of these bikes with the rider mounted between or on the load.
This transport together with the busy roads and the US model of undertaking and overtaking is not without risk and we saw two accidents on our travels with goods strewn across the roads and one, with the police in attendance, having a small scooter, pinned under the front wheels of a large lorry, with the rider not is sight, presumably in the back of an ambulance.
|The city is a city of scooters and mopeds|
|Heading out into the countryside produced views of paddy fields and rubber tree plantations|
|The war memorial at Long Kanh on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City|
Australian reconnaissance teams from the Special Air Service Regiment soon identified elements of the D445 Viet Cong battalion and the North Vietnamese Army 3/33 Regiment, and a plan was hatched to drive the enemy troops discovered back towards a US/Australian stop line on the Suoi Ran River with a brigade sized search and destroy mission conducted by the 1st Australian Task Force (3rd Royal Australian Regiment infantry backed up with Centurion Tanks).
The operation began on the 5th of June and was given the name Operation Overlord due to the date relationship to D Day 1944. The Australians soon discovered their enemy well ensconced in a network of tunnel emplacements, with the NVA and VC infantry keen to resist to allow their support elements and supplies to fall back from the area intact.
The NVA forces achieved their mission but it is thought at great cost as they bought the time required while the Australian forces cleared each tunnel complex one by one using their tanks to destroy strongpoints along the way.
|Well you don't see posters like this at home!|
The following link gives an explanation of events with pictures of some of the veterans who took part in the struggle and took me back to a 15 year old watching North Vietnamese tanks entering Saigon as the last evacuees rushed to board US military helicopters to escape the collapse.
Today the banners and posters that adorn the street furniture leave you in no doubt as to who is in charge now.
|Banners and flags adorn buildings and lamp posts|
In each little harbour were multiple "sampan" like blue fishing boats peculiar to this part of the world.
|As we approached the coast we passed through fishing communities|
As we sat to let our food go down, Carolyn noticed we had been joined by one of the locals.
|A local who joined us for lunch|
|The view of the South China Sea as we got near to Nha Trang|
|Champa soldiers in action depicted aboard ship in one of the friezes that still remain|
The Champa, during these ancient times, were a technically interesting force incorporating elephant mounted ballista, hand held crossbows in among their spearmen and archers, with a minimal amount of light cavalry designed to pursue a beaten foe.
|Cham towers at Thap Cham|
To day the monuments to this great Vietnamese civilisation are these dramatic red brick towers that dominate the landscape adorned with a splendid array of carvings and intricate pattern work
These particular examples of Champa architecture are to be seen at Thap Cham and we stopped the car to take a few minutes to grab these pictures.
It was getting a little dimpsey (Devonian expression - meaning the light was fading) when we arrived in Nha Trang and met up with Georgia, Tom and Will.
Nha Trang is a beautiful coastal resort designed to attract visitors wanting the sun, sand and sea holiday and our hotel room on the tenth floor with sea view balcony offered a great vista overlooking the seafront and bay.
We went into town for dinner in the evening allowing the youngsters to determine our restaurant for the evening as they have had several days here to find their way about.
On our way back to the hotel, I spotted this marvellous replica NVA topee which I thought would make a fine souvenir of the holiday to take pride of place in JJ's man-cave and provided a nice end to a very pleasant first day in Vietnam.
|A souvenir to be added to JJ's Wargames games room|
Good Night Vietnam.