History Field Trip to Vietnam - Bangkok Prep

History Field Trip to Vietnam

During the Midterm Break a group of Y11-13 Historians took the chance to visit the historic city of Ho Chi Minh or Saigon as it used to be, and still is by many, called. Day one saw us picked up from the airport by our guide Mr Minh and head straight to a famous restaurant for a steaming bowl of ‘Pho’. The walls were adorned with photos of past US presidents who had been there to eat, including Bill Clinton and George Bush Snr. From there we went to visit the Museum of Vietnamese History and saw artefacts which dated back thousands of years.

Day two began with the usual hotel buffet breakfast followed by a day full of sightseeing and museum visits. Meshi and Alice were, as always, the first to the lobby and definitely won the award for most organised students. We headed off to the Independence Palace which used to be the residence of the President of South Vietnam until 1975. There you could see rooms where the president would hold his important meetings with foreign dignitaries and the bunker from which he would direct the war. Next up, we risked life and limb by taking bicycle rickshaws (so exciting Meher fell asleep) to a Chinese Temple before spending time shopping at the local Chinese market. After lunch we visited the War Remnants Museum, a must see for any visitor to Saigon. The museum details the atrocities carried out during the wars against both France and the United States.

Day three was probably the day most students were looking forward to: a visit to Cu Chi to see how the Viet Cong fought against the Americans using a variety of traps and tunnels. We then went into the actual tunnels and, while smaller students were able to navigate the tunnels with ease, bigger teachers (like me) found it hard work crawling down tunnels that were less than a metre high. It was really hot and very claustrophobic underground! It would have been absolutely horrible having to live down there for days or even weeks at a time. A couple of the ‘smaller’ boys went even further into the tunnel system. We also got to eat a typical Viet Cong meal and I’m not going to repeat the comparisons that were made to school lunches. In the evening we got to see a traditional Vietnamese water puppet show before heading to ‘dine in the dark’. I can quite honestly say that eating food you cannot see was not on my bucket list of things to do, but the students seemed to enjoy it, judging by the noise they were making (dining in silence would be better). The boys thought this would be a good time to whisper into each other’s ears for a game of ‘broken telephone’.

For our last full day we had another action-packed tour organised by our guide for all five days, Mr Minh. Apart from being knowledgeable about everything to do with Vietnam, he was also an accomplished magician, comedian and singer. He took us on a boat trip around the Mekong Delta to a small island where we saw how locals lived and worked. We had the chance to try some local delicacies and listen to traditional live music. We had another nice lunch which included something that looked like a giant dinosaur egg, which was in fact hollow and made of sweet sticky rice. We then headed to another market where we had a competition to see who the better ‘hagglers’ were. Without doubt the girls won with some aggressive bartering, while a couple of boys definitely overpaid for some branded t-shirts. For our farewell meal we headed to a fashionable pizza restaurant for some much needed carbs after all the walking we had done. There I learnt you have to be quick when sharing pizza with the Y11 boys.

On the last day there was nothing more to do other than to head to the airport and a sad goodbye to Mr Minh. The excitement wasn’t over though as Vasily had to go back and have his luggage searched and Mr Gosling left a painting he bought on a luggage trolley at Suvarnabhumi Airport (since returned to me thanks to the ingenuity of Kru Fhaii).

Many thanks to all the students who came on the trip: Meher, Denzel, Meshi, Alice, Barney, Juan, Tanmay, Sushi, Sumo, Vasily, Nicholas and Kris, for their outstanding behaviour, enthusiasm and positive attitude throughout the trip; and a special mention to Kru Fhaii who gave up some of her holidays to come along and help out.

 

Next year Berlin and Krakow!

 

Marcus Gosling

Head of History


 

 

 


 

 

 

 

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