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Saturday, March 30, 2013

March 25 - 27, 2013 – Saigon and Mekong Delta (Part 1)

After our experience with the cyclos we booked proper tours for the next couple of days. Monday was a city tour that took us to all of the popular sites of what is now called Ho Cho Minh City. The first stop was a bit unnerving as we were dropped at the War Remnants Museum, which primarily focused on what, in Vietnam, is referred to as The American War, and told that we had roughly 90 minutes to self-tour. We were relieved for that because the guides whom we could hear leading other groups painted us (Americans), as ruthless savages. We are consistently referred to as "The US Imperialist Aggressors".

The exhibits were so graphic and revolting that I found myself filled with outrage as we witnessed hundreds of very young school children paraded through in droves, being spoon-fed these horrible images and anti-American propaganda, thus perpetuating the hatred and fear. The war is still so fresh there, and after seeing some of the exhibits I found myself softening as we entered the Agent Orange Room.

Frank and I departed the museum long before our time limit expired and ventured outside to look at the exhibit of USA aircraft and tanks that were on display. While outside, we noticed tourists entering and exiting another smaller building so we ventured over for a look.

The photo referred to in the caption was too graphic to post
 It housed torture chambers and other barbaric devices that the Vietnamese said were used against them. We left with the thought that this is their country and their story. We don't have to like it but we did choose to come visit here and knew this would be part of the experience. Now we have seen and heard from the other side, so to speak.
A fair bit of the tour centered on the historic evolution of Saigon, and then we got to pull in a bit of culture, moving on the Notre Dame  Cathedral, The Central Post Office, Ho Chi Minh Square and the famous Rex Hotel. It is quite a city! We didn't get to everything but were quite happy by the end of the tour, which ended mid-afternoon.
Frank among in a sea of tourists in the Central Post Office

Notre Dame Cathedral
We wandered around some and stumbled into the Water Puppet Theater where we made a reservation to see the evening show after having a wonderful steak dinner at the Hard Rock Café.
Returning later to the Water Puppet Theater…we thoroughly enjoyed the show.  Stories are told through music and song using water puppets in a small pool. Of course we couldn't understand a word but had a program written in English so that we could follow along. The sets were changed regularly just as at any theater. The stories were very cheerful and often very funny. Characters ranged from dragons and fish, a variety of animals to little people. We would recommend it to everyone!

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