Monday, June 20, 2005

Follow The Ho Chi Minh Trail

The infamous Ho Chi Minh trail was a supply route used by the North Vietnamese army during both the first and second Indochinese wars and consequently got the bejeesus bombed out of it by the Americans. The Americans had so little success with conventional bombs that they even tried bombing the trail with detergent (to make it too slippery) and crates of Budweiser (to get the Vietnamese drunk?), as well as the standard issue Agent Orange. None of these strategies worked and the trail was a decisive factor in the North Vietnamese victory. The trail, contrary to popular opinion, is actually almost entirely within Laos, running parallel with the Vietnamese border from north to south, and not in Vietnam at all.

As I've already mentioned I do take requests, and a friend of mine asked me to travel the Ho Chi Minh trail. So off I went. Unfortunately the trail remains a series of dirt tracks, and since it's the rainy season they are difficult to travel and public transport along them is non-existent. Still, I managed to get to the trail, where it bisects one of the main roads to Vietnam, and clamber around some war junk (a couple of tanks and an anit-aircraft gun barrel) left over from a disastrous, American backed, South Vietnamese assault on the trail. Apparently, further along the trail, there are even more war relics, but it's quite risky looking for them due to high number of UXOs still present.

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