January 16, 2003
Exploring the War
This was our earliest morning to date. We were all on the bus at 6:30 a.m. It was a modern miracle, and a necessary one as our day was extremely full. Today we went to the DMZ.
Vietnam has a lot of rules about, well everything, but tourism in particular. In order to legally tour the area in and around the DMZ, we had to pick up a local tour guide. He was extremely knowledgeable about the area, as could be expected. He first took us by bus to the rock pile that used to be an important firebase for the American military. When we stopped for pictures, Kuan asked the taxi driver that was driving the Crounses about the possibility of visiting the area where Camp Eagle used to be, and was told that the Peoples Army was still using the site, so it would be next to impossible and very dangerous to attempt such a visit. Dad was a little disappointed, but understanding.
Our next stop was Khe Sanh, the site of one of the biggest and longest battles of the war. The site had been restored somewhat and some bunkers had been reconstructed to give tourists an idea of what had once been there. There was a museum, in reality just an open room with a roof, that told the story of the fighting. Perhaps most disturbing were the actual weapon remnants displayed all around the site. There was a destroyed tank and a large piece of artillery. The runway was just as rundown, covered with dirt and plants. What was most eerie, though, was the feeling of tension that still hung over the place. I was uncomfortable the entire time we were there. War is hard to think about.