Posted by Emily Block | 1 comments

Vietnam (Last Day)

My last day in Vietnam was really intense.  I spent the morning at the big city market and the afternoon at the War Remnants Museum.  Both were intense in very different ways though.  The market was busy and fun and it was quite a challenge to navigate the narrow spaces in between booths with my wheelchair.  The War Museum was so tragic it was hard for me to get my head around the pictures I was seeing.

First, the market.  I went to an ATM first thing to get some money and the machine was a little dodgy.  I'm definitely going to have to keep checking my bank account to make sure all the money (all like hundred dollars of it haha) is still there.  I went off on my own in my wheelchair which was an adventure.  People at the market were really curious about me.  They would find one of their friends who spoke English and ask me questions about why I used the chair.  Once I had a whole row of people completely captivated at my silly attempts to explain a stroke using really simple english words.  I don't know if I fully got the point across, but it was still fun/uncomfortable.  :0)  I was able to get lots of birthday and Christmakkah presents for people at the market in between awkwardly squeezing through the isles.  I met a guy who was my age and we talked for a bit about TV shows and school.  It was really fun!  

You'd be surprised what can be accessible when you are incredibly stubborn.  haha

I was getting hungry so I decided to get some street food.  I had heard about the popular street food item that was a sandwich made from a french roll and Vietnamese recipe filling.  A little combination left over from French colonialism.  I bough the large sandwich for only $1 and couldn't wait to try it.  It was fairly good, but had a strange gritty texture.  I still continued to munch on it.  Then my guide came over and I hesitantly asked what was in the sandwich.  Turns out it was pig skin.  Ewe.  I still ate a few more bites, but I wasn't nearly as enthused after that.  

Luckily, we got to eat at a restaurant soon after that.  The food was pretty ok, but better than pig skin.  :0P  There was some interesting fruit as well.  I don't really know what any of these were called, but they all tasted good.  

Those citrus fruit slices may look just like an orange but they were about three times bigger than any orange slice I have ever seen.

The short bus ride to the War Remnants Museum was rather somber.  I think many of us were scared of what we were about to see.  It was uncomfortable because the museum was made to focus on what the Vietnamese civilians had to go through because of the war.  

The ground floor kind of eased us into the really sad stuff.  It was mostly focusing on all the different countries who opposed the war (including protestors in the U.S.  There were lots of picketing sign pictures as well as draft burning pictures and anti-war propaganda posters.  

The second and third floor had photo collections reflecting different aspects of the war.  In the interest of time because I am so far behind from the blog I'm going to quote directly from wikipedia, "Other exhibits include graphic photographs, accompanied by short copy in English, Vietnamese and Japanese, covering the effects of Agent Orange and other chemical defoliant sprays, the use of napalmand phosphorus bombs, and atrocities such as the My Lai massacre. Curiosities include a guillotine used by the French and the South Vietnamese to execute prisoners, last in 1960, and three jars of preserved human fetuses deformed by exposure to dioxin."  I know, your opinion of me just decreased by at least 30%.  But if you saw my to do list you would understand.  :0P

Before and after agent orange and bombing.  

   The pictures were incredibly graphic and horrifying.  I had a hard time comprehending that humans did this to each other.  And I was only seeing one side of the war.  There were pictures of hysterical children, bodies in several pieces, and medics futilely trying to revive fallen soldiers.  One particularly chilling photo explained in the captain that the photographer died just seconds after it was taken due to a bomb dropping right behind him.  There was a whole other group of people who also suffered greatly and a whole other side of the war not shown in the museum (for obvious reasons).  I can't imagine anyone could walk through that museum and come out being pro-war.  I won't soon forget what I saw and learned there.

   I saved one exhibit on the ground floor for last because I knew I would need to end with some hope after being thoroughly depressed.  The section was a room full of paintings done by schoolchildren showing what they thought represented peace.  :0)  

   BAck on the ship I met up with some friends and we spent our last dong on some trinkets being sold right off the ship.  

The ship put on a spectacular BBQ for us so we could enjoy the Ho Chi Minh skyline as we cruised out of the port.

1 comment:

  1. There you are! I know it's been a while since I've commented, but I was wondering where you had gone. Can't say I'm quite as jealous of your trip this time but still, going around the world sounds like it continues to be awesome.


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