***Warning, graphic pictures***

Hoi An Travel Blog

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List of all the people killed in the My Lai massacre
***Please note, photos attached are quite graphic. If they offend you, please let me know and I will remove them immediately***

Our day began early today at 6:30am. I was stuffed from the word go and frankly quite glad I didn't have a big day of sight-seeing ahead of me, just a lot of hours in the mini-van. Breakfast was good, I just had a light one of a Vegemite roll, pineapple, dragonfruit, some chocolate cake and what I think was pineapple cake. We left at 7:30am. We had plenty of stops for quick toilet breaks but the main stop was at Son My, or My Lai, a group of four hamlets at which, on 16 March 1968, 42 years ago exactly, American GIs stormed in at 6am and brutally murdered 504 unarmed civilians, under the orders of 'kill anything that moves'.
Army photographs of the My Lai massacre
170 people were ordered into a ditch and killed in Thuan Yen sub-hamlet alone. It became a mass grave. First up we watched a half hour video about one of the soldiers who was involved that day going back and meeting a Vietnamese man who had several family members murdered at the time. Not long into the video I became very emotionally affected by it and soon began shaking with silent sobs. This pattern continued throughout the remainder of the memorial which contained several graphic photos of the events of that day captured by the army photographer. We also learnt about 2 Americans, a helicopter pilot and gunner, who managed to rescue about 15 people and fly them to safety at the nearby hospital by turning their guns on their comrades and threatening to shoot.
My Lai statue
Outside was a big stone sculpture of an elderly woman holding up her fist in defiance, a dead child in her arms, surrounded by the injured and dying at her feet. There were many flowers at the base of the sculpture, placed there during the morning's ceremony. One American (Billy Kelly I think, I took photos of some cards he'd written inside the memorial) returns every year on the anniversary to place 504 roses at the base of the sculpture to commemorate the lives lost. Burnt-out shells of homes stand in their original locations and each has a plaque listing the names and ages of the people that used to live there but were murdered. We could still see the bullet holes in the coconut trees that remained standing. I found it hard to look at the ditch where so many had lost their lives.
Ditch that became a mass grave, My Lai

Our lunch stop was Cay Da restaurant. I had a bottle of water and stir-fried noodles and veg for 40,000D. We reached Hoi An about 5:30pm and checked into our hotel, Cua Dai, and received a complimentary peach iced tea on arrival. We all said goodbye to Phong our driver at that point, and tipped him. He had been with us for the last 10 days and had to drive another 100km (~3hrs) to pick up a tour going the other way. Our hotel was okay but had a musty odour due to the flooding late last year which also meant we were without any overhead lights, only 3 reading ones. We relaxed for an hour, I had a shower with an ENORMOUS showerhead - no water restrictions necessary here! At 6:30pm we met up and Y took us on a tour of the Old Town. Our mouths were agape, our jaws dropped as we surveyed all the beautiful clothes that we could have tailored for us.
Hoi An lanterns
Beautiful, modern designs. We visited two shoe shops and a clothes shop and a jewellery shop that Y recommended (for the record, the tailor was Blue Eye tailors at 331 Nguyen Duy Hieu St, and the jewellery shop was Lac Viet, at 23 Hoang Dieu St). It was so great. I don't know HOW I'll choose something but one coat did stand out in particular. For dinner we headed to Banana Leaf Cafe located alongside the river. The road there, where it existed at all, was absolutely shocking. It had been completely eroded during the floods and the water pipes underneath were getting replaced. For tea I had a mango fruitshake and set menu one for a total of 110,000D inc tip. The meal included 2 veggie spring rolls, veggie noodles with quality chicken, sauteed green beans, steamed rice and a thin pancake with chocolate sauce. It was good value! After dinner we walked along the river where we saw many colourful, beautiful lanterns aglow. Stunning. At every full moon they send some floating down the river. Got out some more money and then bought some more postcards, then I stopped in at a little ceramics shop and bought a small jewellery box. My next stop was Reaching Out Handicrafts which employs disabled artisans, and the proceeds are ploughed back into the business to train and employ the disabled all over Vietnam. Mr Binh Nguyen Le has been running the shop since 2001. He has been wheel-chair bound since he was 16 after receiving botched medical treatment. I bought a lovely silver pendant for US$9. We headed back to the hotel after that. Stayed up late again talking with K and also watched 'Edward Scissorhands'.
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List of all the people killed in t…
List of all the people killed in …
Army photographs of the My Lai mas…
Army photographs of the My Lai ma…
My Lai statue
My Lai statue
Ditch that became a mass grave, My…
Ditch that became a mass grave, M…
Hoi An lanterns
Hoi An lanterns
Hoi An