Travel & Living in Hanoi, Vietnam
Curiosity killed the cat. Satisfaction brought it back. In my case, it was a trip to Yen Nghia bus station to discover just what lay at the opposite end of Hanoi’s Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) route. And uncovering a surprise into the bargain.
From Kim Ma bus station, it takes a surprisingly long time to get to Yen Nghia, the Ha Dong terminus at the southern end of the BRT route.
Unsurprisingly, Yen Nghia was as underwhelming as I expected. Lots of buses going to all points of the compass, normal service buses, and the BRT, but other than the bus station it was indeed as nondescript as I had expected.
I resolved to find a coffee shop and hatch a plan of action when I literally found a hidden gem emblazoned on a giant billboard: Ho Chi Minh Trail museum 500m. It was a total surprise, I hadn’t heard of this museum before and as it was a relatively mild day a wee saunter along there seemed like a good idea.
I arrived a matter of minutes later to find several coachloads of school children embarking. However, it turned out the museum was open from 7.30 am to 11 am, so I still had a good couple of hours to play with. The entry fee was a bargain 20,000 VND ($1).
This particular museum concentrates on the mammoth task of engineering that was the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a network of roads, bridges and fuel pipelines that kept the Vietnamese war effort moving. The feat was impressive but at a huge human cost, with bombs raining down every seven minutes.
Even the Americans conceded the Ho Chi Minh Trail was “one of the great achievements of military engineering of the 20th century.”
The Yen Nghia museum is spread over two floors, with an assortment of military vehicles on display outside and a memorial garden to those who perished during the Trail’s construction. The list of names engraved in stone is a poignant reminder of the futility of war; most of those commemorated were around 20 years old.
This museum is definitely worthwhile even if a little off the beaten track.