Underground war bunker found under Hanoi's Metropole hotel

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Construction workers at Hanoi's landmark Metropole Hotel have uncovered an underground war bunker that American folk singer Joan Baez took cover in as her countrymen bombed the capital city.

While upgrading a hotel bar in August, the workers found ghostly remnants of those who had sought refuge from the wanton American bombing of Hanoi, Vietnam's civilian capital: the 40-square meter bunker contained an old wine bottle, a still-intact light bulb, air ducts, and graffiti.

"In the hotel's history, we have a story of the American folk singer, Joan Baez, who sought shelter in this bunker during the Christmas Bombings, and who sang some songs beside a Vietnamese guitarist," said the hotel's general manager Kai Speth.

"We've always known a bunker was here, somewhere in the garden between the pool and the Club Bar, but looking for this wasn't even on our radar screen until my chief engineer tried to sink pilings for the new Bamboo Bar," he said.

"The hotel is still undecided about how best to utilize the underground space, but Speth is determined to make something of this novel asset, if only as a museum that shines a light on ways and means of Vietnamese resistance during the war," said a press release issued by the hotel.

"We don't know of any other hotels, in Vietnam or anywhere else for that matter, that maintained shelters for guests and staff," said Speth. 

"The Metropole's standing as a hotel in a war zone garnered feature play on the cover of Life magazine, April 7, 1967. The magazine features a row of manholes, about 1.5 metres deep that line a sidewalk outside the hotel. Those manholes did not connect to the hotel's more spacious shelter but testify to life in a city under siege by American aircraft," said the release.

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