Vietnam Hué 2002.04.08 - 04.11

Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)

Hué is the departure point for a tour through the former Demilitarized Zone separating North Vietnam and South Vietnam during the North-South Vietnam War. TM Brothers offers the best tour price.

Nature replaced much of the destruction inflicted during the war. Today, most of the battleground is hidden from view. Our English speaking guide related (Vietnamese re-written) history to geographical areas we saw, giving us images of the war.

Most interesting was comparing the memories of Keith, another tourist on the DMZ Tour, with the events according to our tour guide. Keith was in Vietnam during the war as a medical research scientist analyzing Southeast Asian jungle diseases and the effect of Agent Orange (Dioxin) droppings on the exposed population. His findings show no health impact in the current generation nor future generations due to Dioxin exposure between the early 1960s to 1975. Keith noted that compensation to American Vietnam War Veterans for ailments supposedly caused by Dioxin was in fact a US government political move to appease war veteran disgruntlement. Since most US proceedings are publicly disclosed, the Vietnamese government could easily reshape this information into Anti-American propaganda with claims of 2 million additional birth defects and increased cancer rates among the current Vietnamese population due to past US occupation.

Another difference in perspective between Keith's memory and our DMZ Tour history lesson concerned which side won which battles. Throughout the DMZ Tour, each battle had been won by the honorable Communist North Vietnamese liberators against the foreign US invaders.

Our DMZ Tour was a direct lesson on how the people in power can liberally rewrite history to suit their purposes. This is not a statement against Vietnam. It applies to all countries, be they Capitalist, Socialist, or Communist. Don't believe everything in your school textbooks, kids.

By far, the most pleasant area in Hué is the Citadel occupying the entire northwestern half of the city. Surrounded by a mote, the Citadel houses the reconstructed Imperial Palace, museums, and a peaceful residential neighborhood with some guesthouses. A day in the Imperial Palace (called the Forbidden Purple City) is worth the 50,000 VND (US$3.34) admission fee. The easiest mode of transport around the Citadel in by rented bicycle. (5000 VND for a full day, less for several hours.)

10 km and more south of Hué are a handful of Royal Tombs. Each carry an expensive US$4~5 admission price. Transport from Hué is by taxi or motorbike.

All trains and tourist buses coming from the north and south stop in Hué.

The reconstructed library within the Imperial Palace is representative of the style of nearby structures.
Wes relaxes on his middle berth "hard sleeper" on the train from Hué to Hanoi.

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