Thursday, March 31, 2011

Vietnam




Vietnam has been a bit of a roller coaster, but a good one, an important one.

Our first day here (in Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon) when I was learning how to cross the street, my heart jumped into my mouth a few times. The sheer mass of motorbikes on the road is astonishing, but when you realize that in order to get to the other side of any street you have to play human frogger with them, you just have to take a leap of faith. The locals walks slowly, so the motorists can gauge whether to zoom on the right or the left of them! I tried to give you an idea of how it feels, there is a little video here.

After a long walk through the city, Brian and I went to the war remnants museum. This was pretty intense. An unabashed, raw and gruesome look at the Vietnam war. There was an entire war crime photography display and a whole room dedicated to the horrific after effects of agent orange and other chemicals used in the war on human bodies. I can't even begin to explain the emotions I had there and for a long time afterward. I will never be able to burn those images out of my brain. But I think it is important to see. See exactly what happened, how it happened, and not shy away from it. Realize what humans are capable of, and hopefully how to prevent atrocities like this in the future. I may never come to understand war and why we as humans have not been able to evolve to a more peaceful coexistence with each other. I hope one day that we will.

Our guesthouse is along a cute alleyway where families hang out on their stoops eating, playing, napping. The city is just massive and dense and there are lots of folks approaching you at all times trying to sell you just about everything.



Yesterday we took a tour down the Mekong river


where we saw floating markets and were paddled to a little island where they made popped rice, rice paper (for spring rolls),



coconut candy and rice wine. We actually had a taste of the fiery cobra wine below!



A beautiful Vietnamese woman paddled Brian and I to our lunch destination on the tour. We thought, who needs Venice?





We are off today to Mui Ne which is more along the beach. I have to say I am relieved to be leaving the frenetic Saigon.

Oh, here also is a video I wanted to share with you earlier of some monks chanting beautifully at a Wat in Chiang Mai, enjoy :)

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