Its been really busy around here after changing cities and hitting the ground running. So here is a breif overveiw of all the happenings in Hue.
On our first real day in town we took cyclo rides to the Citadel and a local Garden. While at the Citadel the son of a Japanese princess was visiting and so there was heightened security. The buildings were really cool looking and certainly not something I had expected to see here. The garden was pretty but rather uneventful. Afterwards we all came back for some lunch, a shower and then class. After class a whole group of us got pizza and had a big ol’ pool party.
Today we were up by 6:30 to begin our journey to the DMZ. As we all learned, DMZ – De-militarized Zone, actually means, place that gets bombed the most.
Our first stop was at one of the only memorial churches in Vietnam. During the war this Church was bombed rather relentlessly and only its walls remain. It was really interesting and kind of sad to see. On a less serious note, all spiders in Vietnam are on steroids as the place was crawling with spiders the size of a half dollar or larger.
After the church we met up with Project Renew, a non for profit organization that works with unexploded ordinances or UXO. As we learned nearly 10 percent of what the US dropped did not detanate and this left a lot of dangerous material lying around still killing thousands of people each year. Project Renew educates children, provides new legs for victims, and microloans to families that are struggling due to a UXO injury or death.
After visiting with the group we stopped at the bridge that marked the line between North and South Vietnam. We learned each side used to have competitions on who could blast the loudest propoganda. There were speakers the size of people and towers of speakers taller than most trees. This made the area anything but quiet.
Then we made our way into another set of tunnels. These ones I actually did wind up going into because they were considerably larger. The tunnels have been expanded for americans, but as the tour guide explained it was larger than Cu Chi to begin with because entire villages actually lived underground. Personally I found the tunnels, dark, wet and a touch creepy. But there was beach nearby and it was gorgeous. It was just so awsome getting to go up into the mountains and see the ocean.
After a stop for lunch we drove up to see the Rockpile. It was really pretty. However there is no way you could imagine it like any Marine ever had to. Today it is being reforested whereas when they arrived it was covered in jungle which was promptly napalmed to leave nothing but rock left.
Farther up the road in Khe Sahn we visited a museum. The museum itself had the standard photos with interesting captions. But the surrounding grounds had two helicopters, two sandbag huts, a tank, and the fragments of another bombed plane.
I actually managed to crawl up into the tank for a pretty sweet picture. After that it was time to head home. The drive back was pretty uneventful aside from slamming on the breaks to nearly miss a dump truck and a five minute horn blowing session when waterbuffalo would not get out of the roadway.
Tomorrow morning we have to be up at 8 so we can reach an official ceremony where we meet the students from the University of Hue.