By Gary McKay
A traveller's advisor to the Australian battlefields and cemeteries in Viet Nam written for individuals really holidaying in Viet Nam in addition to the "wannabes" who imagine they may visit Viet Nam.
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Additional resources for Australia's Battlefields in Viet Nam: A Traveller's Guide
It is 8–10 metres underground, with the water table 10–15 metres below that. Further along the path a shell has caved in part of a bunker, which gives a good view of how the bunker roofs were constructed with layers of criss-crossing logs and hard-packed soil. The next bunker is an underground medical aid post. Next to it is an operating room for minor surgery that underlines just how tough the VC soldiers had it when it came to medical support in the field. A treatment room is next and soon a sloping crawl tunnel leads to the exit.
Viet Nam is a land of constant change and it seems that only religious buildings and French colonial-era structures have withstood the ravages of progress. Most other buildings have been remodelled, rebuilt, refurbished or, in some cases, demolished. Returning veterans need to be aware that what was there in the way of infrastructure in 1966 or 1969 will probably not be there now. In my own case I wanted to return to a battle site at Nui Le. It was primary jungle in 1971 but today it is part of a rubber plantation.
Magnificent urns are placed around the courtyard and neatly tended grass and pebble paving flanks the inner sanctum. A huge urn for josh sticks greets the visitor. In all it is quite impressive. An enormous pagoda with a seven-storey tower on one side dominates the foreground above the Song Sai Gon river. The 50 000 names of those who paid for Viet Nam’s nationalism are inscribed in gold letters on the inner walls. The adjoining tower is actually an archive on those who fought in the region. Inside the temple a large bell used for calling people to prayer rests on one side, while a huge set of ceremonial drums sit opposite.