Thursday, May 23, 2013

Tunnels, Palaces, and Museums...Oh My!!

Today has been an amazing first full day in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).
Melissa and I started out by heading to the one and only Starbucks at 6:15am. We had to wait outside for about 15 mins for them to open, but spent our time taking pictures. I was able to try the Indulgence Asian Dolce Latte, and it was so delicious. I also got a BBQ Pork Wrap which was one of the most delicious food items I've ever gotten from Starbucks. I also fulfilled my mission of getting a Vietnam Mug and we admired the inside of the store before heading back to our hotel to meet up with our group who was at breakfast.

We then began our 1 1/2 hour journey through Ho Chi Minh, a Rubber Plantation, and the countryside to the Cu Chi Tunnels. They have turned the infamous system heavily utilized throughout the French and American Wars into a tourist site. We got to crawl all around the tunnels which had been widened for tourists.

The view coming out of a tunnel 

Dylan descending into one of the tunnels. 

Photo-op with the mannequin

Cassava with a salt, sugar, and peanut blend

Northern Vietnamese performing surgery in a tunnel.

From there we headed to a firing range that was part of the tunnels. I got to shoot 5 rounds in an M-16 rifle. 

Cody (who is blind) giving me aiming tips, hilarious and helpful

We headed back into town for lunch which had oh so many courses that were incredibly delicious.
For the afternoon portion of our day, we headed to the Reunification Palace (Independence Palace) where our guide Phoung took us around and showed us the highlights.

Reunification Palace

 After the palace, we headed to the War Remnants Museum. This museum is clearly telling the story of the French and American War through a communist lens by using photographs and some artifacts. They strange part about most of these cultural locations is that they are very open air. Which as a museum professional kind of freaked me out, but the galleries were climate controlled to some degree. The objects are also essentially used to the crazy humidity here. The three levels contained different exhibitions that were topical to the war. I chose to go to the Effect of Agent Orange gallery which looked at how the ten year period from 1961-1971 that the United States dropped NaPalm on Vietnam has had a lasting and horrific affect on the Vietnamese people. It was incredibly sad. We then journeyed to the Historical Truths gallery which definitely used sensationalized language to tell about the events that led up to the United States entering Vietnam for war. The final exhibition that I liked was about the various protests that happened around the world against U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Not only did anti-war protests happen at home but in just about every major city and country you could name. That was eye opening to me, to see how many people around the world were rooting for Vietnam to just be left alone and free.
War Remnants Museum 
 We left the museum and headed back to the hotel to freshen up before a delicious dinner. After consuming a lot of food, several of us decided to head out and explore a night market, Saigon Square, and other aspects of night life here in Ho Chi Minh. We ended up at a lovely establishment entitled the Drunken Duck which we all thought was hilariously named. After consuming a drink we split off with part of the group going back to the hotel and four of us decided to go look at a couple really cool architectural buildings. I was able to get a really nice Filipino man to take a group shot of us and then we headed back to the hotel.

It has been a crazy full day and I cannot wait to see what kind of shenanigans happen tomorrow. Vietnam is pretty awesome.

1 comment:

wylie bergbower said...

Lol great stuff Melissa and tell Melissa E I said whats up!!! - Wylie