Part 3. HCMC
Ho Chi Minh City was the next stop on our trip. We visited the Botanical Gardens and Zoo, War Remnants Museum, a water theme park, and Cu Chi Tunnels. The Botanical Gardens and Zoo aren’t really worth the mention, except for the fact that the animals seem depressed and lonely. I don’t want to put too much thought into their living standards, but I felt passionate about seeing a change in the way animals are treated. There must be some international standard of zookeeping. Surely zoos like HCMC and Phuket don’t meet these requirements? Moving on…
As sad as it was, the War Remnants Museum was the best museum I have been to in Vietnam which seems to fairly depict the atrocities of the war. It was the first museum we went to in Vietnam that didnt make out that it was America versus Vietnam. It went beyond that. It showed the effect and impacts on people’s lives because of the war. It had photographic evidence of the brutalities that endured during the war. There was one exhibit dedicated to the Agent Organe victims. Not only did the lethal dioxine kill all plant life, it poisoned the humans it came into contact with. If not killing them, it caused long term devastating effects not only for them but for future generations. Exposure to Agent Orange meant that there was a HIGH risk of deformities and disease for future generatins. Photographs of such deformities brought tears to my eyes. I will not relay what was shown, but I will tell you that these are deformities you would not believe were possible.
Cu Chi tunnels were evidence of the extreme resourcefulness that the VietCong possessed during the war. It was an inspiring account of Vietnamese soldiers and their great ability to make the most of their land despite the hardships they had to endure.
However, what began as an inspiration, ended in anger. The video focused on the ‘evil’ Americans. Quotes like ‘hero for killing Americans”, “killed 25 Americans” took up most of the film. What I expected to be a film that would reinforce what was being preserved at the site – how did they survive, how did they build the tunnels, the spirit of the people, was basically a statement of the more Americans that died the better and the more that you killed the more respected you were. It defintately put a sour taste in my mouth and probably wasn’t an ideal experience to end our days in Vietnam.
We ate a crispy pancake from a street vendor in a park in the city, made with a quail egg. I guess it was sort of an omelette in rice paper. It had spring onion, mince, dried baby shrimp (which I chose not to eat because I hate them!), margarine, quail egg and chilli sauce. Pretty interesting combination and not bad for 10 000 Dong (50 cents!).