Sunday, September 28, 2008

South Vietnam

Our alleyway in Ho Chi Minh City

Painted Boat

Young Rower


After a long day of wandering around the city of motos fearing for my life every time we crossed the street and of course celebrating every success afterwards I am relieved to be back at home base for our third and last night at Giang Son Hotel (pronounced zee-ang sun). After reading Julia's blog I decided it was about time I started documenting my own perspective, and what better way then to plop it here on the world wide web and see what becomes of it!

Language has been an incredible barrier but the kindness of the Vietnamese people and their eagerness to help has been an invaluable aide in our attempts to travel the public transport in order to get out of Ho Chi Minh City. We arrived after dark two nights ago and found a perfect little alleyway full of potted plants, caged birds, lanterns, and small hotels powered by tangled messes of electrical wiring that must continue to function if only by the grace of god despite the torrential downpours of the rainy season.

Yesterday we were invited by two women from Israel to join a day trip to the Mekong Delta, and eager to explore with a bit of guidance accepted and found ourselves herded here and there into tour buses, river boats, and carriage rides to introduce us to a variety of locations from which we could purchase snake whiskey, handmade coconut candies, and other indigenous handicrafts. We watched natives draw nets from wooden ships and fish from their floating houses. We dined on what was very much like the plastic wrapped Ramen noodles we used to subject ourselves to in college and drank the most rich and flavorful coffee I have ever tasted. The experience overall was very enriching despite the very gimmicky aspects of the tour and the strictly scheduled stops.

Julia and I are anxious to leave the city have spent much time making arrangements and practicing language in order to travel along more of our own schedule. We walked the city all day taking the opportunity to visit the Museum of the American War (what we call The Vietnam War in the states). The devastation the museum displayed is overwhelming. Horrifying chemical weapons used by the United States against civilian peoples and their lands is still visible today in surviving victims and their children. How anyone could justify these actions is incomprehensible.

Tomorrow will be a new day. Traveling with the people and finding our way inland to Cat Tien National Park.

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