Umm, perhaps not a post title in the best possible taste, but fairly accurate. We've just come back from a whistle stop tour of SE Asia, taking in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Absolutely fascinating, and although the more touristy photos are up on Facebook, more of a wargamery type report here. Nothing quite like walking the terrain.
|One of the T-55s which broke down the palace gates in Saigon in 1975. I think this is a Chinese made one, the other one is Russian made (No. 390). |
|South Vietnamese F5E, this particular example was piloted by a North Vietnamese agent to bomb the palace! |
|A rather fine Skyraider. 11.30 in the morning and already a tad warm.|
|This is not a small plane.|
|Jungle and river in the Mekong Delta|
|Cu Chi tunnel complex NW of Saigon.. The red bit is the free fire zone, the US base is the small blue bit under the red bit. Some of the tunnels go into and under the base.|
|Tunnel entrance, not really designed for large North Europeans.|
|Going OK so far.|
|Having got the lid down my elbows got stuck at this point.|
|Example of a simple panje trap.|
|Representative NVA soldiers. It is just possible I may have bought one of the boonie hats, but the sandals were a bit small.|
|A somewhat dangerous method for retrieving explosive from unexploded bombs. Don't try this at home folks.|
|Rice paddies (and surrounding jungle) almost ready for harvesting.|
|Wet rice paddies, plus optional water buffalo.|
|Rice paddies which are neither wet nor dry, plus village and jungle covered mountains (Laos). |
|The Mekong in Laos from a cave. This is a very big river.|
|Uncle Ho's tomb in Hanoi.|
|One of the numerous monuments to the sacrifices of the workers and peasants.|
|Red River in Hanoi. Also quite a large riiver.|
|Everyones favourite Buddha.|
It was a fabulous trip, very interesting and very, very hot. It was marred somewhat by us both becoming ill with chest infections in the second week, and although mine cleared up, my wife developed pneumonia and spent a week in hospital when we were back. The air quality in Vietnam and Laos was appalling which probably didn't help, lots of pollution and dust, and in Laos the air was full of smoke as stubble was burned off.
I was fascinated to see the various stages of rice paddy, I'd always imagined them being rather wet, but as they get close to harvesting they are just like wheat fields. The jungle was also fascinating, visibility literally a few feet.
Having seen the terrain, and the somewhat warlike history of the Vietnamese, frankly no-one in their right mind would take them on in a war. They seemed very proud to have beaten France and the USA, but they'd also repeatedly beaten the Chinese, and I hadn't realised until I did some research, that they'd also beaten Ghengis Khan, which really is something.
I managed to come back with a couple more hats for the collection, and I was after one of the natty VC checked scarves but they seemed to be unobtainable. I also had a go on the firing range at Cu Chi, I wanted to try a Garand which I'd not fired before so I was a bit surprised to be handed a belt of ammo for an M2 Machinegun! My Vietnamese isn't really up to explaining the difference so I had a go on the MG. I hit all the targets with short three round bursts, which I was quite pleased about, but I would have preferred to try a rifle.