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» Reunification Hall
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» Places to Stay in Ho Chi Minh City: Saigon Hotels
» Getting There: Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat International Airport
» Further Afield: Phu Quoc Island
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Gatecrashed /// REUNIFICATION HALL
Gatecrashed /// REUNIFICATION HALL
THERE WERE PLENTY OF FAMOUS IMAGES FROM THE VIETNAM WAR, BUT ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS WAS THAT OF TANKS SMASHING THEIR WAY THROUGH THE GATES OF THE BUILDING NOW KNOWN AS REUNIFICATION HALL. Of course Vietnam was not reunified at the time, and the Reunification Hall was called Dinh Độc Lập, or something like that. It was the presidential palace of the South Vietnamese republic, and by all accounts was a den of corruption and conceit. By crashing through the gates of the palace after their occupation of the city, the tanks were not only ending the Vietnam War and reuniting the country which had been divided for decades, they were delivering a body blow against crony capitalism. It all happened on 30th April 1975, a day which is a public holiday now in Vietnam (Reunification Day). Conveniently enough, it is one day before May Day, another holiday. The storming of the Reunification Hall has become a potent symbol of the Communist takeover of South Vietnam.
ost of them dwelling around Duong Dong, and annually hosts a modest 40,000 international visitors, although there's a Great Leap Forward-style plan to triple that by 2010.
Originally built as the , Reunification Hall comprises of five floors. Watch out the war artifacts that are preserved safely in the Reunification Hall in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. This hall is open daily with an entry fee of 15000 dong for the visitors.
Ciaran and Ruth (from Ireland) write: "A spectacular palace from the outside (see Ruth from it's balcony above), the inside is decked out according to the opulence enjoyed by South Vietnamese President Van Thieu and his predecessors before they made their sudden exit when the North Vietnamese made their entrace. They - unlike us - used tanks to remove the gate. We found an easier entrance, just to the left, where you can be admitted for about 50 cent - it mustn't have been open that day. Maybe the current decorators are exaggerating a bit to demonstrate the counter-socialist ideals of the south before its liberation, or maybe its accurate, but this place is like a cross between the Playboy Mansion and a Bond villain's secret lair. The cinema, game room, snooker tables and piano co-exist with the Map Rooms and underground bunkers decked out with those old Telecom Eireann phones (though I don't think they were the actual suppliers) and enormous radios. It really has the feel of a place Dr. Evil would occupy while plotting his takeover of the world. Probably for more than 1 million dong. That wouldn't even cover the bill in a decent hotel. Or gifts for an engaged couple - though we don't know the price of a good pair of ducks in those days..."
Me and Chairman Mao concurs: "If I was describe it in one word, the word would be "groovy." Really. It was built--and apparently furnished--in the sixties, and since the Communists basically turned the place into a museum the day after Saigon fell, it looks just the same, complete with funky plush chairs and large, circular sofas, which we all know are seriously swinging. Insert your own Austin Powers jokes here, baby! Speaking of which, I guess I should have said "seriously shagadelic?" Talk about missed opportunities ・ｽc "Whatever. Here are the palace gates. (Note: if you are looking at these, you are indeed on the side of the palace with the entrance.) Presumable these aren't the gates that were smashed open by a few tanks back in 1975, since you'd think those gates would look slightly worse for wear. And now that I write that, they might have actually been in the bizarre Ho Chi Minh museum we went to one morning. Or maybe those were copies and the original gates were stolen by some enterprising entrepreneurs one night and sold as scrap metal. Probably that's the case:..
There are very basic medical facilities at both Ham Ninh and An Thoi, with the latter being the better, but for anything more serious than a hangover or a paper cut -- head to Saigon.
Reunification Hall sits on top of an older wooden palace. As this Dinh Độc Lập site reports: "In 1858, French Colonialists opened fire to attack Da Nang starting a war to invade Vietnam. In 1867, the French completely occupied six provinces of the South (Bien Hoa, Gia Dinh, Dinh Tuong, Vinh Long, An Giang, Ha Tien). In 1868, the French Government started to have designed and built at the center of Saigon a palace used as the Governor General・ｽfs Palace and named it NORODOM's Palace. The construction was started on Feb. 23, 1868 and completed in 1871 by the French Governor General in the South of Vietnam named Lagradieøre who placed the first stone. From 1871 to 1887 it was called the Governor General・ｽfs Palace of the South Part.
"From 1887-1945 many periods of the French Governors General used this building as a residing and working place throughout the Indochina aggressive period.
"On March 9, 1945, Japanese fascists・ｽf revolution overthrew the French, soly occupied Indochina, Norodom's Palace was the working place of the Japanese Government in Vietnam. From Sept. 1945, the Japanese failed in the II World War, the French returned to occupy the South part, Norodom・ｽfs Palace was the working office of the aggressive war machinery of the French in Vietnam.
"On May 7, 1954, the French Colonialists lost heavily in Dien Bien Phu campaign, after that they were obliged to sign Geneva Agreement and withdrew from Vietnam. The American tried to jump in to carry out their attempt to invade the South , Vietnam was temporarily divided into 2 regions, the North was under the regime of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, while the South was the Republic of Vietnam.
"On Sept. 07, 1954 Norodom Palace was handed over between the French Government representative-General PAUL ELY and Saigon ruling representative-Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem. Ngo Dinh Diem decided to change the name of the Palace to the Palace of Independence. Since then the Palace of Independence became the residence of Ngo Dinh Diem・ｽfs family and a place witnessing many political events. Ngo Dinh Diem maintained a family ruling dictatorial regime, he pushed the people into strategic hamlets, carried out the 10/59 law bringing guillotines to all over the South, he did not only cause indignation among the people but also caused disagreement within the Government cabinet of Saigon. power, water, construction and the airport are being addressed by the island and will be up to standard by 2011. ..."
THE CULTURAL PARK
Behind the grounds of the Reunification Hall, heading away from the heart of the city, is another green space called the Tao Dan or Cultural Park. While the Reunification Hall is a pretty official place and is generally off-limits to locals (unless you are an outstanding citizen or a Communist boy scout and the Government is handing out medals that day), the Cultural Park is a place for the people. In early evenings, a procession of joggers and walkers orbit the perimeter, all working hard to stay fit. In keeping with its name, the park is dotted with sculptures and reminders of Vietnamese glory. There is a circus, scaled down Cham tower done in tiny red bricks, a cinema, a vivid temple and a handsome building which seems to be home to water puppet shows. Water puppetry is big in north Vietnam, but there are some places you can see it in Ho Chi Minh City. One such place is the Rồng Vàng (Golden Dragon) Theater, inside the Cultural Park. Water puppet statues flank the entrance.
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Rồng Vàng Theatre (55 B Nguyen Thi Minh Khai St, on the northwest side of the Cultural Park) is one of the few places in Ho Chi Minh City where you can see water puppet shows. There are 2 shows every evening at 5.30pm and 6.30pm; each show lasts 50 minutes. Some foreign tourists have complained that the show is boring and difficult to understand. Some other foreigners claim it is a wonderful cultural experience. One website has promised to book you seats for US$14, but I've heard you buy tickets for a more reasonable $4 from the Post Office. You can book seats at the theatre itself for about 70,000 Dong. 80,000 Dong, 100,000 Dong or even 150,000 Domg, according to various sites on the Internet. It's still cheap whatever the price. You can take your camera or video camera inside for no extra fee.
Xem Bản đồ cỡ lớn hơn
The beach in the picture is called Bai-sao and is with out doubt one of the most amazing beaches i have ever seen. We spent the time clearing the jungle and putting up a wall around the block to keep it from being moved in on by the fisherman, the rest of the time was enjoyed by drinking the local rum which at $1.50 a bottle was not to bad at all... Well from what i can remember it was not. Over time i will post more pics from the island.. and keep you posted as to when you can come over and enjoy the white sand crystal clear water and very cheap local rum for yourself."
The gate reads Đền tưởng niệm các vua hùng. I am not sure what it means, but it could be something like "Temple of the Hung Kings". In any case, Đền means "temple", and hùng means "brave" in Vietnamese. The Hung kings are worshipped at shrines like these as the founders of the Vietnamese nation, Flanked by fierce lions and guards brandishing swords, holding the fate of millions in their hands. Bonsai trees, rivers, streams, channels are .
Taking and meeting tourist services at Thien Hai Son Resort.
Government megaphone notwithstanding, this temple displays nearperfect symmetry..
Saigon Phu Quoc Resort. Saigon Phu Quoc resort is the first Vietnam's three-star island resort with 90 well-equipped bungalows and apartments of international standard. The Phu Quoc Island and resort offers pristine beaches and forests to all nature lovers and travellers, making the your stay there a memorable time.
Are these the Hung kings? Who is this baby? Is he in the infant Sung Lam (who renamed himself Lac Long Quận upon ascending the throne)? The limestone karsts painted on the vase are a classic oldschool North Vietnam/southern China backdrop, and that is the region where the ancient Hung Kings ruled. The more you get to know a country and its history, the more interesting it becomes!
Lac Long Quận means the "Dragon Lord of Lac", and dragon motifs abound at the temple seemingly built in his honor. There are also plenty of birds and/or phoenixes as well. Apparently the dragon and the phoenix usually go together at East Asian temples, they complement each other like yin and yang. The dragon is considered male, and the phoenix female. Interestingly, the ancient Vietnamese believed they were born from the procreation of a dragon and a fairy, back in the time of the Hung kings. That dragon was none other than Lac Long Quận, and the fairy was a birdlike goddess called Au Co.
Au Co was daughter of the birdking Đe Lai, and is revered today as the mother of Vietnamese civilization. Perhaps this explains all the bird motifs which can be seen at this temple. Even the tiles on the roof look like birds' claws. Regardless, the name Au Co appears in a plaque set in the yellow interior wall... right alongside the name of Lac Long Quận/.
Just like the Reunification Hall to its east, the Cultural Park has a nationalist objective to fulfil. It might not seem very Communist with its gaudy temples and ancestor worship, but the park nonetheless serves to bolster the Communist regime. Look around Ho Chi Minh City, in fact, and you will find it packed to the gills with Communist propaganda. It is not in your face as much as it would be in some parts, but it is there all the same... all around you. A large number of the streets are named after former Communists, or historical patriots who are favored by the Communist Party today. . What struck me more than anything, after so long an absense, was the plethora of hotels and executive living arrangements which have sprung up, particularly in the Saigon district. One development which is already up and running and attracting attention from the Ho Chi Minh City expat community, is Sedona Suites. Located on Le Loi Boulevard within walking distance to many banks, airline offices and entertainment options, Sedona Suites is a sanctuary of elegance and style that combines the comforts of home with the convenience of hotel facilities (that's a lift from Holiday City.) There are 89 one to three-bedroom units; room facilities include: satellite television, local & IDD telephone, bathroom with long bath and separate shower compartment, wardrobes, Intercom, laubinet and oven.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
"In the near future we should see the completion of more high rise luxury apartments, shopping centers and hotels. The $265 million Kumho Asiana Plaza project finally resumed in October after being delayed for 10 years. It sits on the site that used to be Saigon Square, and is due to be completed in 2009. Saigon Happiness Square is a massive development underway that I mentioned before in D5. It's costing its Taiwanese investors $468 million, containing offices, shopping and a hotel. Saigon's tallest building is also under construction...
"On top of this newly shaped city center, the construction of the Saigon Metro system should finally have begun. As the widely read International Railway Journal stated in September 2004:
"Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Dang Hung Vo joined many economic experts in expressing optimism for the real estate market in 2007 after a two year freeze period.
"He said these factors enhanced Vietnam's attractiveness for foreign investment, including investment in real estate.
AS IN ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD, LOCATION IS A VERY IMPORTANT FACTOR IN CHOOSING WHERE TO BUY OR RENT IN HO CHI MINH CITY. If you are new to this place, then perhaps a geography lesson is not out of place here. According to Easy Property, one of Vietnam's largest real estate agents, there are certain parts of town which are favored by expatriates. They include the CBD (Central Business District) of Districts 1 & 3 (for the convenience, naturally), and the greenery and clean air of the An Phu, Thao Dien, Binh An Wards of District 2 (just over the Saigon Bridge @15-20 minute drive).
o n l i n e + r e a l t o r sBat Dong San: www.tinbatdongsan.com/vn/.
BẤT ĐỘNG SẢN is of course Vietnamese for real estate, and from a SEO perspective at least, this site has the market cornered. Viewable in English and Vietnamese, the site includes a law library, news feed and brokerage service. As the site reads: "You have properties and want them to be sold out or rent out quickly?
"You are very busy to sell or rent them?
"Let us do that for you.
"With reasonable fees 1% of total value for each sold property or 1 month rental for each leased property or you allow us to earn the markup value if you don・ｽft want to pay the above fees.
"Just fill out the Form then send to us with 1 – 8 photos of your property to: firstname.lastname@example.org..."
Chao Co: Phone: 84-913-804-550. Web: www.chaocom.com. Email: email@example.com.
Craig's List: http://vietnam.craigslist.org/rfs/.
Like other invaders from the past, Craig is on his way to conquering Vietnam. Well, at least the classified real estate market in Vietnam (and they say that land equals power!) For the latest offerings from Ho Chi Minh City, hit Craig up.
Easy Property: Phone: 848/840 7962. Web: www.izproperty.com/.
"There are similar developments in the central region around Dalat, and in the north, particularly in Hanoi. We intend to expand these pages over time to cover the nation."
h i g h r i s e + d e v e l o p m e n t s
ONE OF THE AMAZING THINGS ABOUT VISITING HO CHI MINH CITY REGULARLY IS NOTICING JUST HOW FAST THE SKYLINE OF THIS CITY CHANGES. New buildings go up all the time, transforming this once low-rise sprawling tin shack kind of city into another Oriental supermetropolis -- another Bangkok or Singapore. Inside those high-rise steel and glass needles are often where foreign residents prefer to live. If you want to know about coming developments of a high-rise nature, you are in the right subdirectory.
Before we start, here is a word from San Francisco architect Mel Schenck, who wrote: "Most of the housing in Ho Chi Minh City, like all of the other cities in Vietnam, is four or five stories tall. This is true for new middle-class houses even in the smaller villages. I understand there is some new high-rise housing in Hanoi in the new suburban new urban areas, but I did not get out to see them. In HCMC, some Taiwanese investors built a new high-rise apartment complex in the Cholon (Chinese) area of Saigon. Very few of these apartment or condo units have been rented or sold. In speaking with some HCMC citizens, they felt that they had not sold because the units are too expensive compared to normal units in Saigon, and the Vietnamese much preferred the walk-up four-story houses to the elevatored high-rise housing. This is certainly counter to the Chinese pattern of replacing low-rise housing in all of their cities with high-rise housing. Interestingly, the density of population per hector or acre for these high-rises is about the same as low-rise housing since these new high rise towers are usually towers in the park with a lot of space (usually wasted, in my opinion) around them. I vote with the Vietnamese -- I prefer my density in active low-rise units rather than sterile units in the sky, unless the high-rises are as dense as in Hong Kong."
Diamond Plaza: 34 Le Duan St (corner of Pham Ngoc Thach St), District 1. Phone: 848 825 7750. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Web: www.diamondplaza.com.vn/.
Hoang Quan Plaza: 34 Le Duan St (corner of Pham Ngoc Thach St), District 1. Phone: 848 825 7750. Email: email@example.com. Web: www.diamondplaza.com.vn/.
Saigon Pearl: 92 Nguyen Huu Canh Street, Binh Thanh District. Phone: 848/821 9999. Web: www.saigonpearl.com.vn/home.htm.
Zen Plaza: 54-56 Nguyen Trai Street, District 1.
c o m i n g + d e v e l o p m e n t s
THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING GOING ON IN HO CHI MINH CITY, SOME NEW DEVELOPMENT OR MAJOR PUBLIC WORKS PROJECT. Here are some of the latest developments and coming attractions:
Asiana Plaza: 39 Le Duan Boulevard, District 1.
River Garden: Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), District 2.
Thu Thiem Peninsula: Major development plan.