The Cost of War

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Asia » Vietnam » Southeast » Ho Chi Minh City
November 27th 2006
Published: November 15th 2009
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Another relaxing day is behind us in Saigon. After a day of adjustment, I used the early morning for some photo ops around town. This also gave Shauna an opportunity to catch up on some beauty sleep.

We left the rest of the morning for sightseeing. We focused on three museums. By far the most interesting was the American War Museum. I saw this one on my first trip here, but the pictures and exhibits were just as powerful the second time through. The savagery and pain were so evident in many of the pictures -- a number of them would never be shown in the U.S. There was one picture where four U.S. soliders were standing in front of two heads decapitated from Vietnamese soldiers. The grin on the soldier's faces was chilling. Another disturbing photo showed a U.S. soldier picking up a half-blown-up Vietnamese soldier. It's also evident that the effects of the war still haunt the Vietnamese people. Agent Orange and landmines continue to take their toll. Some of the pictures of human deformities resulting from Agent Orange were very, very sad. Whether it is China, Jordon, or Vietnam, it's always interesting seeing the other side of the story when it comes to war.

Another interesting site around town is that many women are covered from head-to-toe. I guess it's unattractive to have dark skin in Vietnam -- it must symbolize many hard hours out in the rice paddies. Many young women will wear heavy stockings with their open shoes, silk arm covers, and masks to protect them from the sun. It's so ironic because tans or darker skin is generally thought of as attractive in the west.

I had a bit of scare with my bike. After it arrived from Edmonton, the back derailleur wasn't working. I tried replacing the cable, because it was all crimped up inside the rear shifter. Even that didn't fix it. I then asked around for a good bike shop. I was directed to one outside the downtown core. I had to cycle down and at the same time get my first experience of Vietnamese traffic. Only one word can describe it -- INCREDIBLE. Pictures just can't do it justice. While there are traffic lights every so often, a typical intersection in Saigon is a weird experiment in Chaos Theory. No one stops, but just slows down as vehicles, motorbikes, and bicycles thread through the interesections. I have already seen two accidents (not bad ones) so far. However, it's amazing that there aren't more. As a pedestrian you must walk slowly onto the road as traffic passes you on each side. If you waited on the sidewalk for traffic to stop, you would never cross.

One more day until we head out to Phnom Penh. Our two longest cycling days come first. This will likely be the last entry until Friday.


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