Reunification Palace 1
The Reunification Palace, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam – Part One
Our final tourist stop today was the Reunification Palace. Construction started on the 1st of July 1962 of the building (that has been known as Independence Palace, Presidential Palace, Norodom Palace or the Palace of the Governor-General) it was completed on the 31st of October 1966. It covers 120,000 square feet and is arranged over four storeys.
We began at the State Banqueting Hall and found an information board and a picture of the Hall in use. This was a banquet held by Nguyen Cao Ky, President of the Central Executive Committee, on the occasion of the Army Day on the 19th of June 1967.
State banquets with as many as 100 guests were held in this room. One of the most notable such events was the inauguration dinner of President Nguyen Van Thieu and his Vice President Nguyen Cao Ky on the 31 October 1967. The last State Dinner was held here by President Thieu on 1 March 1975 for the US congressional delegation sent to report on the prospects for continued support for the southern government.
The room’s gold colour scheme was intended to create a convivial atmosphere. Its focal point is the massive painting in 7 sections by the Palace’s architect Ngo Viet Thu representing a scene from a poem in Chinese characters widely known and cherished as an evocation of national unity. Its opening lines are “The land is as lovely as a length of brocade, all its growing things ripening in peace”.
The Cabinet Room and in use at the presentation of Prime Minister Tran Thien Khiem’s newly established government to President Thieu. 19 February 1974.
The meetings held in this room included sittings of the President and his ministers,
By decree of President Thieu in November 1967, the government consisted of the Prime Minister, 19 cabinet ministers and 7 deputy ministers.
From 1967 to 1975, there were 5 cabinet reshuffles. The longest was General Tran Thien Khiem, who remained in office for 6 years. The last serving cabinet and its Prime Minister Vu Van Mau were appointed on 29 April 1975 and were in the process of being formally presented to the President on 30 April at 10 am at the moment when radio Sai Gon was broadcasting President Duong Van Minh’s statement of surrender confirming the end of hostilities and the transfer of power to the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Viet Nam. We have only ever seen Vietnam written, but after checking, the correct spelling is Viet Nam as is Sai Gon and Ha Noi.
En route to the Conference Hall, we passed this picture of Lieutenant Nguyen Thanh Trung after the bomb attack on the Palace.
The Bombing of the Palace: On 8 April 1975, an underground member of the Communist Party of Viet Nam, Lieutenant Nguyen Thanh Trung, who had infiltrated the airforce of the Southern Republic, seized the opportunity provided by this assignment to fly a military mission to Phan Thiet.
Evading detection by the local control tower, Lt. Trung flew his F5E aircraft directly over Sai Gon and succeeded in dropping two bombs on the Palace before landing at an improvised airstrip prepared by the Liberation Forces.
The helipad on the upper terrace of the Palace and the central staircase were damaged in the attack, though they were subsequently repaired. But this feat seriously undermined the republic’s authority and prompted the US President to order the evacuation of the last of the Americans still in Sai Gon.
The Conference Hall and in use: Representatives of the North and the South approving the result of the Consultative Conference for National Reunification. 21 November 1975.
Reception for as many as 500 guests were held in this room, which was also used for the installation of each new cabinet.
At 1930: on 21 April 1975, President Thieu delivered his resignation speech in this room:he spoke for over 2 hours about the country’s situation in the wake of the Americans’ decision to discontinue their support. Vice President Tran Van Huong then succeeded to the Presidency, pledging to continue the struggle “to the bitter end”. He resigned just a week later, and was replaced by General Duong Van Minh, from whom the revolutionary authorities received the formal declaration of surrender.
In November 1975, the Consultative Council for National Reunification used this room for its deliberations Today it is used for official receptions and other important events.
At the back of the Conference Hall is the Trong Noi: Viet Nam Quoc to a legendary ancestor of Viet Nam. Watercolour on paper. 1966.
The First Lady’s Reception Room, at the far end a large table, at the other an intimate table for four. In use. The First Lady Mrs. Nguyen Thi Mai Anh receiving Mme. Merillon, wife of the French Ambassador, 6 November 1973.
The President’s wife held receptions here, often entertaining the wives of visiting heads of State and leaders of various national and international organisations.
The lamps in the shape of flowers give the room a sense of peace and charm. The decor features a distinctive pairing of two contrasting motifs: the three porcelain figures representing the traditional Gods of Happiness, Prosperity and Longevity and an abstract fresco in modern cubist style. The wife of President Nguyen Van Thieu, Mrs. Nguyen Thi Mai Anh, was born in 1930 in My Tho in Tien Giang Province to a family of Catholic doctors. She married Nguyen Van Thieu in 1951, when he was a serving army lieutenant; they had three children, a daughter, Nguyen Thi Tuan Anh and two sons, Nguyen Quang Loc and Nguyen Thieu Long.
The Games Room.
The theatre, with wonderful old projection machines.
On the top floor Bear posed with a helicopter behind him. We looked over the front garden toward the park opposite, currently having a massive stage built for New Year’s Eve, they did a sound check and we all shot back a few inches......
Bear liked the old Citroen parked on a side road.
At the far end of the upper floor is the Dance Hall complete with Baby Grand, standing on a lovely woodblock flooring.
The Presidential Bedroom, liked the dressing table but not keen on the en suite colours.
The sitting area.
Oh wow. A dressing room not only huge but a mile long. Make up table, with shoe drawers and wardrobes the entire length....
Down the stairs.
The Vice Presidential Office.
The Vice President’s Reception Salon and in use. General Nguyen Cao Ky receiving the future US President Richard Nixon. 15 April 1967.
Nguyen Cao Ky, Vice President of the Southern Republic from 1967 to 1971, was born in Son Tay in 1930. He had French and US military training and served as a commander of the Southern Republic’s airforce and President of the Central Executive Committee, then as Prime Minister. He spent his final years in exile and died in Malaysia in 2011. Tran Van Huong was born in Vinh Long in 1902. He served as Prime Minister of the Southern Republic and as Vice President from 1971 to 1975, then as President from 21 to 28 April 1975. He died in 1982 in Ho Chi Minh City.
The salon’s principle decorative features are the two lacquer paintings produced in 1966 by Thai Van Ngon. They represent Ha Noi’s Temple of Literature and a famous historical scene:the 13th century King Tran Nhan Tong presenting his robe to a mendicant.
At the top of the stairs, a huge space with this big, round carpet manufactured in Hong Kong in 1973.