After leaving the Philippines, which was difficult to leave because of our unfortunate luck of visiting the Vietnamese embassy on its Independence Day, we finally made it to Vietnam. Starting in Saigon was a great beginning, as it took many historical happenings of Vietnam (the war and all involved) into context.
Reunification Palace, formerly the South Vietnamese presidential palace
Two bombs were dropped on top of the palace by an infiltrated Viet Cong pilot
Every morning started with a walk down a very sketchy alley to find the best pho in town. By the second day they knew our order—Pho Bo, fresh baguette, and iced coffee— and everyday it tasted just as delicious.
Street style Communist propaganda
The War Remnants museum was by far the most eye-opening museum we have visited thus far. Coupled images of the battlefields and Agent Orange victims, it was as if I wanted to keep my eyes closed. To say I’m happy we went is not exactly right. But I am very grateful to more fully understand the war from the other side and it has given me a very deep respect for Vietnamese people. As it was not the Viet Cong that won the war, but the deep sacrifices made from every Vietnamese person and their undeniable spirit against outside forces.
War Remnants museum
Cu Chi Tunnels, an ingenious way to win a war
Thich Quang Duc Memorial
And by chance, we also stumbled onto another festival taking place while we visited the city. At the park right across from our hotel, the city hosted the “Integration and Development Festival”, an event filled with food from all the Vietnamese regions and the world, and a concert with themes of community and global participation. Oh, and then we were interviewed by a local news channel and were on Vietnamese TV, truly, can’t make this stuff up!
Ho Chi Minh City perfected the beginning of our journey to northern Vietnam because it provided a crash course in the art of motorbike crossing, bargaining, and savoring delicious local cuisine.
If you don’t almost get hit by a motorbike, are you really in Vietnam?