Ho Chi Minh City – part 2

1/9/07

Our second day in ho chi minh city, we started off like the first by having pho. So good! We then went to go check out the Chinese area of town, Cholon. There is this one street that is famous for it’s herb shops and we walked around there checking out all the crazy herbs they have for sale. So many crazy different kinds of smells. Not only did they sell herbs there, but there were lots of other weird things like dried sea horses for sale, cobras and scorpions soaked in wine, shark fins, and dried out bats.

We then checked out some of the elaborate pagodas. There are a ton of them in this part of town, sometimes more than 2 per block! It was really cool to walk through them, so quiet and tranquil compared to the hectic motorbike madness outside. Inside the pagodas, Buddhists lit incense and bowed to the Buddha statues while others left offerings on various altars. Each pagoda was filled with unbelievably intricate wooden carvings and many multicolored statues. One of the pagodas had music playing inside which really added to the atmosphere. It’s really interesting how everything in these pagodas is so much less formal than say in church or something. Whereas you would expect quietness and people talking in hushed tones etc, here cell phone go off, people chat loudly, others eat food, tourists snap photos.

Later on that day, we checked out the War Remnants Museum. This museums gave a bit of history about the Vietnam war and showed tons of photographs etc. it was pretty brutal. There were some really hardcore depictions of torture, a replica of the tiny cages that POWs were kept in, and some really disturbing photos. One of the most disturbing parts of the museum was a large display about agent orange w/ photos of deformed people and children. It was horrific to see what happened to all of these people because of what the US had done.

Here are a few other random notes about Vietnam:

When riding scooters, most of the women here wear bandanas on their faces which makes them look kind of like bank robbers or cowboys.

The Vietnamese use the same alphabet as we do which makes reading streets signs etc a lot easier.

It seems like it’s the women here that do most of the work. You see them hauling huge loads of things, cleaning the streets, cooking the food, running the shops, etc etc. I’m not really sure what the men do other than drive taxis, cyclos, and motorbikes!

*v

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