Today, we had the opportunity to visit many famous sites in Ho Chi Minh City. At the beginning of our day, we visited the Reunification Palace, formerly known as the Presidential Palace. The Reunification Palace was home to four South Vietnamese Presidents after Vietnam became independent in 1945 and it remained the Presidential Palace until the Reunification in 1975. Actually, the Reunification Palace somewhat compares to the White House in the United States. During our visit to the Reunification Palace, JMLS students experienced a full tour of the magnificent palace, including war and map rooms that the United States and South Vietnamese used during the Vietnam War. Not only that, but we encountered many enthusiastic Vietnamese schoolchildren along the way, with whom we exchanged friendly waves.
Shortly thereafter, JMLS students observed the French influence permeating throughout Vietnam, highlighted by the Saigon Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral. The Saigon Post Office is the largest post office throughout all of Vietnam and was designed by Gustave Eiffel! During our short, thirty-minute stay, we also discovered that the Post Office is a hot spot for wedding pictures, as we watched four different newlyweds photographed in front of the building! Then, we ventured across the street to pay homage to the Notre Dame Cathedral.
The Opera House and People’s Committee Building, formerly known as City Hall, were the next stops during our tour. Although we did not have an opportunity to step inside these two famous attractions, there was plenty of time for a few good photos!
After lunch, we visited the War Remnants Museum. At first, it was a bit intimidating to venture up to a building surrounded by U.S. military planes, tanks, and armored vehicles from the Vietnam War. Once inside, though, there awaited three floors of exhibits devoted to various facets of the war, including exhibits in the War Crimes rooms. These exhibits included a display of the devastating effects of Agent Orange, and a collection of pictures entitled “Requiem.” The Museum contained many powerful and heartrending images of the Vietnam War.
Finally, our day concluded with a tour around Vietnam’s Chinatown. First, we stopped at a Chinese Pagoda and lit incense for Thien Hau, the Lady of the Sea. Then, we took an invigorating rickshaw ride through the chaotic streets of Ho Chi Minh City, amidst a heavy rain, which ultimately led to the Chinese Markets.
Although we visited many famous locations throughout Ho Chi Minh City today, our knowledgeable tour guide truly helped us appreciate the history and meaning behind Ho Chi Minh City’s most memorable sites.
~Julie Gerding & Meghan Tribe