AsiaVietnamHue

Hue and the DMZ

Hue Travel Blog

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"Rock Pile" - A US Army "Fire Base"

We made the fairly short journey (4 hours) from Hoi An to Hue on another unbelieveably uncomfortable bus (the Chinese might have invented water torture but their neighbours Vietnam REALLY know how to punish their victims!) and got in to Hue to a dreadful downpour.  We hung around for about 15 minutes while they waited for the road to flood so we could start to unload our bags(!).

Our hotel was excellent again (we've been on a great run of staying in nice places in Vietnam!), although it was a while before we could wander round the city of Hue.  Hue was taken by the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) and VC during the 1968 Tet Offensive for about 3 weeks and was "controlled" again by the South Vietnamese and US Army only after the loss of about 10,000 people (mainly civilians) during bitter house-to-house fighting.

DMZ - hard to believe that such a place was once the most heavily bombed area in the history of warfare
  The walled citadel of Hue was very badly damaged and many buildings were destroyed, many not being rebuilt and there is now a lot of use for agriculture.

We took a guide and a driver for a trip to the DMZ (Demilitarised Zone), which was a strip of no-mans's land used to divide North and South Vietnam as part of the Paris Agreement (initially for only 2 years until there was a general election which would re-unify Vietnam as an independant state, but this never took place).  It became one of the most heavily bombed places on earth over the period of the conflict of the 60's and 70's, there was much US activity to try and prevent the NVA from heading over the DMZ and supplies from reaching the Viet Cong in the South (via the Ho Chi Minh Trail) and some huge concentrations of US military personnel.

Stature to honour the communication workers of the conflict.
  We visited the former  Khe Sang military base, among several other sites before crossing the DMZ and going to the Vinh Moc Tunnels, where the village of Vinh Moc relocated during the conflict.  There are nearly 3km of tunnels which housed about 300 villagers and often visiting soldiers.  The network (unlike the Cu Chi Tunnels of the South) had remained virtually untouched and are pretty-much as they were at the time of the conflict and still has the original 'rooms" constructed for families, meeting places, hospitals and also a maternity area, wherre 17 babies were delivered for the 5 year period that the tunnels were inhabited.  It was a really strange place to visit and consider that people were driven here by the fighting - although it wasn't exactly spacious, we didn't feel claustrophobic.
Shaft caused by "drilling bomb" at Vinh Moc. The undetonated bomb remains embedded in the tunnel.
  It was very strange to consider that so many people lived down here, and indeed 100 people died in one go when a single "drilling bomb" scored a direct hit.

The whole DMZ tour was done with a really balanced approach, there seemed to be no bitterness from the guide towards the American soldiers, who she said were "just doing their job" and were also victims of the conflict.  Indeed, there are a great many US veterans that return to the area, 10 are due to go camping there next month of a week - all for the first time since they completed their tours nearly 40 years ago. 

We didn't really take to Hue like we did to Hoi An, it was a bigger, busier city without the same charm.  We didn't really feel too sad to be moving-on to Hanoi.

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Rock Pile - A US Army Fire Base
"Rock Pile" - A US Army "Fire Base"
DMZ - hard to believe that such a …
DMZ - hard to believe that such a…
Stature to honour the communicatio…
Stature to honour the communicati…
Shaft caused by drilling bomb at…
Shaft caused by "drilling bomb" a…
THe Ho Chi Minh Bridge, on the old…
THe Ho Chi Minh Bridge, on the ol…
Map of the DMZ
Map of the DMZ
Entrance to the Vinh Moc Tunnels
Entrance to the Vinh Moc Tunnels
Artillery remaining at the former …
Artillery remaining at the former…
M40 tank at Khe Sanh
M40 tank at Khe Sanh
Chinook at Khe Sanh.
Chinook at Khe Sanh.
A family area at Vinh Moc tunnel…
A "family area" at Vinh Moc tunne…
Vinh Moc tunnels
Vinh Moc tunnels
DMZ
DMZ
Hue
photo by: Paulovic