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I Haven't Been Everywhere But It's On My List I love to travel and experience the world but part of the fun for me is documenting those experiences through photography and writing. Follow along with me and enjoy the ride!

The Faces of War: Part I

VIETNAM | Tuesday, 28 July 2015 | Views [406]

Hello from Ho Chi Minh City!
On Monday, we flew from Da Nang to Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam.  When we made our travel plans, we figured Monday would be a dead day due to the traveling but our flight was early enough that we were actually able to see quite a bit of Ho Chi Minh City.  HCMC was once called Saigon and is the former capital of South Vietnam.  Our first stop was the Central Post Office which was built during the French colonization of Vietnam.  It has some beautiful architecture and amazing old painted map murals painted in 1892 - the first one is titled Lignes telegraphiques du Sud Vietnam et Cambodge 1892 which translates to "Telegraphic lines of Southern Vietnam and Cambodia 1892". The second map of greater Saigon is titled Saigon et ses environs 1892 translating to "Sai Gon and its environment 1892".  There is also a slightly newer addition in the form of a portrait of Ho Chi Minh hanging prominently at the front of the building.  Jeanette mailed a few post cards to her family and I sent something too (be on the look out Mom and Dad!).  
Our next stop was the War Remnants Museum but on the way, we were walking right by the Reunification Palace and decided to stop in.  The Reunification Palace, also known as Independence Palace, is the former home and working place of the president of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War.  Think of it as kind of like a 60s version of the White House.  It is the site of the end of the Vietnam war when the North Vietnamese army crashed through its gates on April 30 1975.   It was an incredible building that combined old traditions with modern architecture and it felt like a step back in time.  The hall is open for tours during the day and is still used for some major functions.    
After that, we kept on our way to the War Remnants Museum that was a memorial to the men and women whose lives were impacted by the Vietnam War.  Here, they call it the War of American Aggression.  It has been interesting to be an American in a country where Americans were seen and and still described as the "enemy."  The Vietnam War occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1955 to the fall of Saigon on April 30 1975.  It was fought between North Vietnam (supported by the Soviet Union, China and other communist allies) and South Vietnam (supported by the United States, Philippines and other anti-communist allies).  The US saw its part in the war as a way to prevent a communist take over of South Vietnam.  It was interesting to see the Vietnam war from the perspective of who was considered our enemy when I learned about the war.  The atrocities of the US soldiers as well as the South Vietnamese soldiers were highlighted in addition to the effects of Agent Orange, phosphorus bombs, and napalm on the Vietnamese people.  I feel like the Vietnam War has always been glossed over in my history classes and I am glad I have had the chance to learn about it in the country that it effected most.  I have also learned that Vietnam has seen so much war - they went through 55 years of almost constant war.  Starting with the First Indochina war from 1946-1954, the Vietnam war from 1955-1975, and the Cambodian--Vietnamese War from 1977-1989.  One thing I know for certain is that her people have been through so much pain but they are strong and resilient and ready to continue making strides forward.
There is a sad but beautiful song we heard on our flight in Vietnam that speaks to this pain and optimism called "Hello Vietnam" and it goes like this: Tell me about this name that is difficult to say.  It was given to me the day I was born.  I want to know the stories of the empire of old.  My eyes say more of me than you dare to say.  All I know of you is all the sights of war.  A movie by Coppola, the helicopter's roar.  One day I'll touch your soul.  One day I'll finally know your soul.  One day I'll come to you to say hello Vietnam.  Tell me about my color, my hair, and my little feet that have carried me every mile of the way.  I want to see your house, your streets.  Show me all I do not know.  Wooden sampans, floating markets, light of gold. All I know of you is all the sights of war.  A movie by Coppola, the helicopter's roar.  One day I'll touch your soul.  One day I'll finally know your soul.  One day I'll come to you to say hello Vietnam.  And Buddha's made of stone watch over me, my dreams they lead me through fields of rice.  In prayer, in the light I see my kin.  I touch my tree, my roots, my beginning.  All I know of you is all the sights of war.  A movie by Coppola, the helicopter's roar.  One day I'll touch your soul.  One day I'll finally know your soul.  One day I'll come to you to say hello Vietnam.  To say xin chao Vietnam.
The next day we were drained so we decided to pull back a bit and started off our day with a late breakfast and massages.  After that, we walked through the park where we saw a group of Vietnamese kids playing badminton.  We stopped to watch then asked if we could play with them too so we joined in and had a great time playing with them for about 15 min - they were so good!  We went back to the hotel, showered and grabbed dinner before packing up and getting ready for our trip to Phnom Penh the next morning.  
Vietnam was an amazing country and I am so glad we got the opportunity to experience and learn about this beautiful land. Au revoir for now, Vietnam. 


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