Yup, I went to Vietnam a few years ago…just so I could say,
“I was in Nam, man.”
That is totally not true. I went there to check it out…(and buy pearls.) But I still like being able to say it.
However, I could not imagine having to have been there to fight. (Or anywhere else, for that matter.)
The last blog has made me think about Vietnam Vets and the War.
Was it worth going over their to fight? It’s still a Communist country. They don’t appear to be any unhappier than anyone else, from a tourist’s observation.
You don’t see beggars. (They boast about it.)
The beggars usually consist of land mine victims. I saw plenty of them in Cambodia. Each one of these musicians had a limb missing or were blind. It was heavy. But they made great music and I bought a CD. I was amazed at how many people just passed them by in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Basically, the government sweeps them there, under the rug, like dust balls, that blow West.
Many people have a romantic idea about going to Vietnam to see how beautiful it is. I wouldn’t call it that.
Hanoi is cool. Killer deals on pearls, (as long as you get real ones), and the water puppet show is wicked awesome and worth the 40,000 dongs! Like 2 bucks. (Actually, any currency named dong is worth spending just for the sophomoric giggle.)
Just watch out that a Vespa doesn’t drive by and splat you with pig’s blood. I came close to getting hit with a scooter hauling a slaughtered hog! When he turned the blood just missed my feet on the ground!
(I saw up to 7 people on a Vespa! That was the record.)
Ha Long Bay is pretty scenic, but not worth the schlep, as far as I’m concern. And it’s pretty dirty.
There is more gorgeous terrain in Laos and Thailand.
South of Hanoi is the town of Hoi An. That is the most charming place I went. KILLER deals on original paintings and lovely architecture with a French influence. And the food was good there.
I went to China Beach, and it just made me sad.
A lot of the jungle had been destroyed, though a lot grew back.
Nevertheless, it felt eerie to be there. I felt guilt. I heard ghosts of screaming and still smelt death in the air. (Although it was TOTALLY psychosomatic.)
But the most emotional moment for me was going to “The War Remnants Museum “ in Saigon. Also known as Ho Chi Minh City.
I was a little nervous about going in, for fear of what I would surely see.
I wondered what the Vietnamese thought of us; of me, as an American, as I entered.
Then I walked into a vault of horrors. I was ashamed to be part of a country that did such atrocious things to women and children.
They didn’t have photo shop. This was the real deal.
I cried when I exited. I felt like shit.
I saw two beautiful Vietnamese girls selling paintings. I looked at them and saw generations of pain. But they were still smiling and kind. Still crying, I said I was sorry. And I bought this painting. Not because I felt bad, because I LOVED IT!
The frame that I bought in the U.S. cost 10 times more than the painting! (And it was probably made in Vietnam!) And every time I look at it, it reminds me of how stunning the world could be.
And yes, the American soldiers didn’t know who to trust, and who not to trust. But somehow, I think infants were not capable of being a threat.
And yes, the enemy showed new ways to destroy the human spirit and body.
War just fucking sucks. It is so stupid. So childish. Such a waste.
I went to visit the Chu Chi Tunnels and climbed down there where the VC held there headquarters. Where many died.
Of course this is now a tourist destination, and more of an obstacle course, but imagining what REALLY went on there was mind blowing.
It was almost as fun as the sport of crossing the streets of Saigon, dodging cars! Basically, you walk and NEVER stop. If you stop, you get hit. They anticipate.
We had to climb down deep into the earth. Maybe 100 yards? I don’t remember. Just that it was deep and narrow, and a little creepy. And a few people freaked out and waited above ground while we explored for a while.
It is extremely claustrophobic. And quite a workout for my knees.
I was relieved to find the exit eventually….even though it was 100 degrees with 100% humidity.
Then I hung with the staff and played a little ping pong. I was so naive that when I thought they were giving me a peace sign, it was actually the hand sign for “VC”, or VIctory, or something like that.
Regardless, they were very nice.
If you want to feel like crap, have an amazing power shopping spree, buying custom made silk dresses to snap out of the guilt and support the economy, and eat soup out of a plastic bag, go to Vietnam!
How’s that for a Tourism Slogan?
OH!!! And, if you want a picture with the South East Asian Version of Paul McCartney, he’ll pose with you!!!!!! (This was a Beatle Band that performed in Saigon!)
(And if you live in New Jersey and want to just experience awesome Vietnamese cuisine without shelling out the air fair and astronomical visa cost, go to “Pho Le” in Red Bank. DEEEELICIOUS! ME LOVE IT LONG TIME! And Vietnamese owner Lori, is as wonderful as her food!)
And any Vietnam Vets that may read this….thank you for trying to defend our country. I will sing for you any time. And for the dodgers….I don’t blame you.