Tra Que herb village

I had some visitors from UQ this week so I took them to Tra Que. It’s one of my favourite places here in the Hoi An area, and I am happy to say they loved it too.

Tra Que is a small river island dedicated to herb growing. It lies about 3km from Hoi An along Hai Ba Trung on the way to An Bang Beach. Everything is still done by hand and in traditional ways, so it is quiet and there are plenty of interesting things to see. I like to go early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Tra Que is a definite visit when in Hoi An.

TQ1

TQ2

TQ3

Tour of the DMZ from Hue including Khe Sanh

While we were in Hue, we decided to go on a tour of the Demilitarised Zone, aka the DMZ. It was a very long day as there is much ground to cover – some of the sites are to the north of Hue along Highway 1, and others are to the west on Highway 9 close to the Laos border. There were three of us, so we decided to take a private car as it was only slightly more expensive than the bus. This worked out really well for us and I would definitely recommend it as the best option. I have made a little photo tour for you.

This was the first stop on our tour. The church was heavily bombed and is now a peaceful and beautiful reminder of the past.

Frame of a church.
This was the first stop on our tour. The church was heavily bombed and is now a peaceful and beautiful reminder of the past.

Frame of a church. This was a lovely peaceful place to visit.

Frame of a church #2.
This was a lovely peaceful place to visit.

Rock Pile Hill Our second stop, Rock Pile Hill was used an American base. Because it was nearly impenetrable, men with only a short time left in Vietnam were posted here so they would make it home alive.

Rock Pile Hill.
Our second stop, Rock Pile Hill was used an American base. Because it was nearly impenetrable, men with only a short time left in Vietnam were posted here so they would make it home alive.

Dakrong Bridge. We stopped here to see the Dakrong Bridge. It was built in 1975 and funded by Fidel Castro. The bridge itself isn't very exciting, so I have used this photo instead. The blue sign shows the distance to Khe Sanh.

Dakrong Bridge.
We stopped here to see the Dakrong Bridge. It was built in 1975 and funded by Fidel Castro. The bridge itself isn’t very exciting – this photo is from one side of the bridge. The blue sign shows the distance to Khe Sanh.

 

Ho Chi Minh Trail. There isn't much to see in that you can't really make out a trail. The HCM Trail was actually a network of trails so looking for a starting point is futile anyway. What it does illustrate is how thick the jungle is.

Ho Chi Minh Trail.
There isn’t much to see in that you can’t really make out a trail. The HCM Trail was actually a network with branches in many directions, so looking for a starting point is futile anyway. What it does illustrate is how thick the jungle is in this area.

Khe Sanh Base. There were only two or three other visitors when we arrived. It's quite a large area and there is a small museum with war relics and some incredible photographs. The airstrip is pretty much as it was, and there are some bunkers you can explore. I think these were a recreation, but you definitely get a sense of how exposed the people here would have been.

Khe Sanh Base.
There were only two or three other visitors when we arrived. It’s quite a large area and there is a museum with war relics and some incredible photographs. The airstrip is pretty much as it was, and there are some bunkers you can explore. I think they are a recreation, but you definitely get a sense of how exposed the people here would have been.

Vinh Moc Tunnels. The Vinh Moc tunnels are different to the Cu Chi tunnels in that they were made for civilians to live in. The Cu Chi tunnels were an underground base for the Viet Cong. The tunnels at Vinh Moc were home to 60 families and the complex includes a hospital area and a classroom. Originally the tunnels were only 10 metres deep, but the Americans designed bombs that would penetrate the earth to the same depth. The villagers created a deeper set of tunnels 30 metres down. The tunnels worked because none of the villagers were killed.

Vinh Moc Tunnels.
The Vinh Moc tunnels are different to the Cu Chi tunnels in that they were made for civilians to live in. The Cu Chi tunnels were an underground base for the Viet Cong. The tunnels at Vinh Moc were home to 60 families and the complex includes a hospital area and a classroom. Originally the tunnels were built 10 metres deep, but the Americans designed bombs that could penetrate to this depth. The villagers created a second deeper set of tunnels 30 metres down. None of the villagers were killed, so the tunnels were a success.

Near the Laos Border. It is incredibly beautiful in this area. Some sections of the road have amazing views across valleys and over to Laos.

Near the Laos Border.
It is incredibly beautiful in this area. Some sections of the road have amazing views across valleys and over to Laos.

Zoom

Goods coming into Vietnam from Laos.
This is a zoom of the photo above. Being so close to the border, we saw a lot of merchandise coming into Vietnam by motorbike.

If you are in Hue and have a day to spare, do take a tour of the DMZ. I wasn’t sure I would enjoy it, but I am so happy that I went. We paid $75 for the car, so $25 each but you could have four in the car for the same price. The same tour in a bus was $18 per person. Prices April 2014.