Sunday, September 2, 2012

Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City

Over Hari Raya, we decided to capitalize on Eric's two extra days off and head north to Vietnam.  This was our second trip there this year, but this time we explored Ho Chi Minh City, aka, Saigon and the charming town of Hoi An. We spent 3 days in Saigon exploring this large, modern, Asian city, taking in the historic sites, drinking famed Vietnamese coffee, shopping, eating and drinking proper German beer.
Reunification Palace - this is where "Saigon Fell" to the North Vietnamese during the War
One of the tanks that broke down the gates during the "reunification" of Vietnam
Overlooking the palace grounds and envisioning Ho Chi Minh addressing the Vietnamese...
We also visited the very sobering War Remnants Museum, which documents the atrocities of the Vietnamese War. (In Vietnam, the war is known as the American War) The museum displayed the US planes, weapons and artillery in a raw and uncensored propagandist fashion.  A very worthy stop on our adventure. This museum provided a very skewed glimpse of the war from the Vietnamese perspective.  Graphic pictures of the effects of napalm, the My Lai Massacre and the utter destruction of war where everywhere.   We would not recommend this museum for children, but it is a humbling place for Americans to visit.  Humbling.  I really like the way Lonely Planet sums of the museum, as I am struggling for words to write, "There are few museums in the world that drive home so well the point that war is horribly brutal and that many of the victims are civilians.  Even those who supported the war would have a difficult time not being horrified by the photos of children affected by US bombing and napalming....The museum remains a very one-sided story and many of the labels are woefully propagandist."

Needless to say, after we visited the museum, we b-lined it for the largest drink we could find, and that we did.  We stumbled upon The Lion - a German Beer bar and Eric almost cried with excitement.  After a liter of beer, we were able to carry on with our day.
This pretty much sums it up!  Eric was in heaven!
Fresh cold beer to cap off our visit to the museum
Saigon has other guilty pleasures, such has the strongest coffee I have ever drank. Across the street from our hotel was a local coffee shop, which was packed at all times of the day, with locals getting their caffeine fix and business men sealing deals.  We stopped their each morning for our daily dose.  I love strong coffee, but this stuff only required one small glass and I needed ice to water it down.
Iced or hot?  Strong, medium or mild?  Milk? How do you like your coffee?
My high octane morning fix.  This stuff is no joke!
After a packed 3 days in bustling Saigon, we were ready to head toward the beach for some R & R and that we did.  We packed up our suitcases and headed to Hoi An...

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