Traveling to Vietnam was a little like going back in time. One of the things I found interesting was that many Vietnamese people own a Moped and use them like we use a car. I traveled to two cities in Vietnam in the Summer of 2006. In Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) I visited the National Museum and watched a water puppet show, I went to a Lacquer Factory, traveled to the Rex Hotel (home of the world press during the Vietnam War) and traveled to Reunification Hall (home of the Presidential Palace and US command center during the Vietnam War). In Nha Trang I visited the ancient Ponagar Cham Tower (an ancient religious cite), went to the Hong Chong Promontory and Long Son Pagoda, visited a silk embroidery workshop and watched a cultural show.

The first Vietnamese states Au Lac and Nam Viet are formed in the third century BC. These states come under Chinese control between the second century BC and ninth century. However, in 935 the Trung sisters formed the state of Dai Viet which become independent from China. This state eventually developed into one of the most powerful feudal states in South-Eastern Asia. In 1472 Dai Viet conquered the kingdom of Champa (in the south). The name of the country was changed to Viet Nam in 1804, and was renamed Dai Nam Realm or Great South Realm in 1839.  France conquered the south of Vietnam in 1862 and establish the colony of Cochinchina. By 1883 the central and northern regions come under French control and the protectorates of Annam and Tonkin were founded. All these possessions were united in 1887 with Cambodia into the Union of Indochina. In 1893 Laos was incorporated into Indochina. Between 1940 and 1945 most of Indochina was occupied by Japan. In 1945 the Vietnam Empire was formed, but the empire collapsed later that year and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, a communist dictatorship, lead by Hô Chí Minh, was proclaimed. France recaptured the south in 1945 and in 1946 the south became the Republic of Vietnam. France's post-World War II unwillingness to leave Vietnam lead to an 8-year guerilla war between the communist-led Viet Minh on one side and the French and their anti-communist nationalist allies on the other. Following a humiliating defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, France and other parties, including Britain, China, the Soviet Union and the United States, convened in Geneva, Switzerland for peace talks. In 1954 an Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Vietnam is signed between France and the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The 1954 agreement provided for a cease-fire between communist and anti-communist nationalist forces, the temporary division of Vietnam at approximately the 17th parallel, provisional northern (communist) and southern (noncommunist) zone governments and the evacuation of anti-communist Vietnamese from northern to southern Vietnam. The agreement also called for an election to be held in 1956 to bring the two provisional zones under a unified government. However, the South Vietnamese Government refused to accept this provision and in 1955 South Vietnam declared itself independent. In the late 1950s, North Vietnam reactivated the network of communist guerillas that remained behind in the south. These forces, the Viet Cong, aided covertly by the north, started an armed campaign against officials and villagers who refused to support the communist reunification cause. In 1961, at the request of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, the United States sent military advisers to South Vietnam to help the government there deal with the Viet Cong campaign. In 1963 the United States increased its military support for South Vietnam and in 1965 the first United States combat forces were sent to Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh was succeeded in 1969 by Tón Dúc Tháng. Peace talks lead in 1973 to the Paris Accords. As a result, the south was divided into a patchwork of zones controlled by the South Vietnamese Government and the Viet Cong. The United States withdrew its forces, although US military advisers remained. In early 1975, North Vietnamese regular military forces begin a major offensive in the south, inflicting great damage to the south's forces. The communists took Saigon in 1975 and announced their intention of reunifying the country. Both Vietnam's were unified into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1976. Today Vietnam remains a communist one-party state with an economy that is fastly moving toward capitalism.

To see the picture album of Vietnam click here

A Poor Family Fishes in the Waters outside Saigon

Mopeds crowd the streets in Ho Chi Minh City

In the former US War Command Center in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

The White Buddha and a Cultural Dance in Nha Trang

Cultural Dancers in Ho Chi Minh City