Two weeks ago, we went to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) in Vietnam for a short mission trip. bucketlist. I only knew so little about the city. I first heard of it in the Miss Saigon Musical who happens to be very famous in the Philippines since a Filipina Broadway Star Miss Lea Salonga played the very first Kim in that musical. Then a friend and her entire family who just moved to Jakarta from Ho Chi Minh, told me a bit of the history, people, and culture. So I was very excited on what this trip awaits for me. The city is so rich in culture and history so if you’re a history buff and never been here, it’s time to include Ho Chi Minh City in your bucket list.
On the last day of the mission trip, we were rewarded with a few hours to tour around the City area. It was an Easter Sunday and we were not prepared for the many local and foreign tourists all over the city. The city landmarks were so jam-packed that you could literally bump into each other!
Linda, a Campus Crusade for Christ worker in HCMC along with other New Life Global youths were our tour guides that Sunday afternoon. Since we only had a few hours to spare, they brought us to the main attractions in the city.
Our first stop was in the Reunification Palace. Also known as the Independence Palace, this grandiose building was the residence and workplace of the South Vietnam President during the Vietnam War. It was also the site of the end of the war.
In the grounds are the North Vietnamese Army tanks- the vivid reminders of how these tanks crashed through the front gate of the Palace in 1975, signifying the end of Vietnam War.
We first check out the middle floors of the palace where the state rooms are located. The conference hall and reception areas were lavishly decorated and adorned with beautiful paintings and antique furniture of mixed traditional and modern styles. We also check out the game room, cinema, and the Presidential office.
We then climbed the top floors and we were so delighted to see the presidential family’s living quarters and the rooftop courtyard filled with keepsakes and souvenirs of the first family. But what thrilled me most is the helicopter on the rooftop which I believe is used to serve as aerial escape route for the family.
Afterwards, we went to the bunker using the steps. I couldn’t remember anymore how many stairs we had climbed down but yeah, it was so tiring. Nevertheless, we were so excited checking out the eerie, windowless offices of the former command center. There were radio equipment, vast wall maps, the kitchen, and even the President’s quarter inside. There were rooms that were off-limits. I wondered what those secrets rooms were.
After the very tiring exploration, we decided to take a rest and check out the souvenir store.
Whenever you are visiting the city, whether you’re a sucker for history or not, never miss to see the Reunification Palace. It is a great place to learn about the rich and colourful history of Vietnam.