The DMZ, Vietnam

Just north of Hue is the DMZ (demarcation zone). This was an imaginary line between north and south Vietnam during the war. As soon as we arrived we dropped off our bags at one of the worst guesthouses we’ve ever stayed in and took the beach road to the Vinh Moc Tunnels – an extensive network of tunnels built 10 metres and eventually 30 metres underground so the bombs couldn’t reach them during the war. The tunnels connect small rooms where people ate, went to the bathroom, had babies, and lived life as normally as possible. The network is about 2km long with 6 land entrances and 7 entrances on the shore of the South China Sea. Since these tunnels were less touristy we were free to explore them alone using my camera flash to light the way. Every once in a while when we thought we were lost a guy would pop up that was actually born in the tunnels and direct us back to the lighted route.

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Our tour guide was pointing to the baby saying that was him when he was born.

The next day we hired a guide, Mr. Ting, to show us some of the sites and memorials around the DMZ. They are all several kilometres apart so we set off for the day on our motorbikes. Mr. Ting was a south Vietnamese soldier and had some personal stories and insight n the war we wouldn’t have heard otherwise. Here’s an example:

A Vietcong Love Story
“There was no way for American soldiers to identify between South Vietnamese and the Vietcong (who supported the north). The American soldiers often were looking for company and a girlfriend while overseas and would date Vietnamese women. The Vietcong women would take advantage of this and invite the soldiers to their family home to meet her parents and eventually they would go to her bedroom. The soldier would be anxious to get back to the base camp before curfew but it was important for the family and girl to distract him until after dark. When the soldiers got undressed the Vietcong would be hiding a weapon on her and kill the unclothed, and therefore unarmed and defenseless soldier. As soon as she did that there would be men outside her window to take the body away secretly in the night.

 

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Mr. Ting!
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Khe Sanh
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Mr Ting and Jesse walking through the many rows of graves. Many people place lit cigarettes on the incense sticks as an offering because “they are still smoking with us.”

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