Today was our busiest day. We started the day at the Ben Tanh Market. The market was a large building that was packed full of souvenir and food shops. It was an overcrowded space. Walking through the narrow lanes in between the shops, The noise from all of the bargaining was loud and overwhelming. The buyer tries to thet he lowest price possible while the sellers would stubbornly give you a hard time. There were a few times that I had to walk away from a sale so the seller would have to make the decision to agree to my lower price or lose the sale completely. The bargaining process was pretty exciting. I did have a lot of help from the UEF students, since they were experienced bargainers, I feel that overall I got good deals for the gifts that I bought. I think that since bartering is a huge part in Vietnamese society, Vietnamese have trouble moving on from a cash based economy. Most of their transactions are paid in cash. I don’t think that I prefer this method for most shopping. The process is a little timelier than I would prefer.
Next we visited the Pagoda and the Vietnam War Remnants. Both were very emotional experiences. The Pagoda was beyond beautiful and was an inspiring worship space. Religion is a significant force in Vietnam. Most citizens have strong beliefs in their religion and the communist government maintains religious tolerance. When we got to the museum, I was shocked. I could not believe what I saw or heard during the tour. The images of the agent orange victims and the massacres were graphic and disturbing. What happened to the Vietnamese victims during the war was something that we were never taught at school. IIt was really hard to walk through the museum and think about how awful all of it was. I felt resentment towards our own country. I am surprised that the Vietnamese people love the U.S. as much as they do after what I saw in the museum. However, I am both happy and unsettled to know the truth about the war.