It's been almost a half-century since the Vietnam War ended in 1975, with Americans seeing that iconic image of the final helicopter taking off and flying away. Ever since, Vietnam and what transpired there, especially so in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City, has inspired numerous transcendently special works of art.
However, for those really interested in Vietnam, and the fall of Saigon, it's not enough to only consume books, movies and musicals; you have to actually walk where the world once turned upside down. It all starts by making your way to this emerging megacity of approximately 8.4 million (13m for the metropolitan area).
First you have to figure out how to get to Ho Chi Minh by air or by sea and then decide on how you'll get around by ground transport once you're there. Located around the Saigon River, near where the waterway empties out to the South China Sea, it's one of the biggest and most important metropolises in south east Asia.
As Wiliam Faulkner wrote in Reqiuem for a Nun, "the past is never dead, it's not even past." The Independence Palace, also known as the Reunification Palace truly embodies this quote.
The two North Vietnamese army tanks displayed near the entrance to this world class museum is where Saigon officially fell here in April of 1975. The tanks smashed through the wrought iron gates, and it wasn't long before the Viet Cong were waving their flag inside.
The interior itself is a time capsule, as Coast Reporter writes: "South Vietnam’s residential workplace for two presidents has become a landmark museum. Original 1960s furnishings decorate its interior." It's the very first place a tourist must visit this super-city of sizable skyscrapers and superlative spring rolls, with a visit to any of the following: Bến Thành Market, the extremely picturesque City Hall or Notre Dame Cathedral-Basilica of Saigon perhaps next on the list.
It's about so much more here than just the war period of the '60s and '70s though. There is a lot to see in Ho Chi Minh City from the era when Saigon was under French colonial occupation.
Throughout its long history, control of the city has passed through many different countries, cultures, dynasties, political parties and factions. It's been through a lot, but always comes back stronger. Because after all, as Ernest Hemingway wrote in A Farewell to Arms, "the world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places."
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry," regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the "Let's Get Weird, Sports" podcast on SB Nation.
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