After buying a very nice copy of Lonely Planet Vietnam (for $3), we headed straight to the
Reunification Palace (called ‘Independence Palace’ during the American occupation and as ‘Norodom Palace’ during the French), which is said to have remained largely untouched since the PAVN tank bulldozed the gates outside on April 30, 1975, marking the very end of the American/Vietnam war. I don’t know how truthful that statement is, but the interior decorating does scream 1960′s!
Completed in 1873, the French built the palace after their successful colonial conquest of Cochinchina, with building materials mostly imported from France. It served as the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the American war, and was even under Japanese control for several months at the end of World War II after defeating the French in a successful coup. It was then bombed in 1962 by two rebel Southern Vietnamese Air Force pilots and destroyed. President Diệm ordered it rebuilt, but was arrested and assassinated after yet another coup d’état in 1963. A couple more coups later (both failed and successful), the palace was inaugurated in 1966 by Nguyễn Văn Thiệu (who’s name should ring a bell!).
(If you aren’t familiar with Vietnamese history (and this sort of thing interests you), check out some history books, as I did prior to my visit, and although I am somewhat of a history nut already, Vietnam has a very interesting and colorful heritage full of upheaval… worth checking out).
The basement had an interesting layout of old military command centers and bomb shelters, as well as a massive kitchen and shooting range… among other things. If you get the chance to visit, make sure to watch the hilariously propagandist and not-at-all biased films as you exit.
Also thought I’d share some links for those interested in finding things to do in Shanghai:
SmartShanghai.com for a cool happy hour map.
ExploreShanghai.com has a great metro map which also calculates time + cost.
LonelyPlanet.com has lots of info on Shanghai (and the entire world).
Shanghaiist.com has events listings and other happenings.
Now I have to go see about a girl, but I’ll leave you with this dope vid I found through the Shanghaiist done only with a Canon A540:
So I figured out how to work the slideshow… here are some preliminary shots taken down Jiashan Lu (my street)… in my neighborhood which I refer to as South-Central French Concession (modern day Xuhui District).
I also finished my residency procedure just today, my permit should be sent to me in 2-3 weeks… the process wasn’t at all that bad. A lot of steps, and more paperwork than anything I’ve ever had to do before… but the longest wait at any government building/police station/hospital was only just over an hour (and that was today, at 4pm on a Friday). All the facilities were clean, nice, and modern (except the PoPo building) and people were generally friendly. Plus I had an “agent” with me (colleague from work) who helped me out tremendously. Actually the whole damn thing would have been near impossible considering all the non-Englishness. Thank you Pauline!