Bargaining, Buddhism, and Battles

We started today with shopping at the Ben Than market.  I had to bargain heavily with the merchants, usually by cutting the original cost they tell me in half before slowly raising my willingness to pay.  My Vietnamese friend bunny told me when I was getting a good deal or not, although I did all the bargaining myself.  After I was done buying gifts and t-shirts for myself, I stopped in a coffee shop where I bought a delicious green tea.

On a side note, I noticed, when bartering, the wads of cash the merchants pulled out to give me change.  These are likely these peoples life savings.  In Vietnam, many people still do not keep their money in banks, and instead they live off of what is under their mattress.

If I could save money, I would do bargaining over the US purchasing method. I do not think that this would be the case though, since most goods in the US are priced at the market price- that is: where supply meets demand.

Buddhism is one of the main religions of Vietnam, brought here centuries ago by the Chinese.  It has become a prominent guide for millions, alongside Taoism, Catholicism, and Hinduism.  Today we visited an old Buddhist pagoda, where practicing Buddhists go to worship their Buddhas.  It was old on the outside and intricate and beautiful on the inside, with an excess amount of burning incense.  Buddhists believe burning incense brings their prayers to Buddha better than just praying without the smoke.  There does not seem to be any religious restrictions I have seen or heard about in Vietnam.  Seeing all of the faith-filled worshipers, I was reminded of the sadness of the war between America and Vietnam, two mainly peaceful peoples.

We ended the day by visiting the War Remnants Museum.  Although they had many interesting photos, actual weapons, and American vehicles outside, I did not appreciate the phrasing/messaging of any of the plaques that stood believe particular exhibitions.  The Communists throw everything in your face, painting Americans as extremely negative people.  We did make numerous mistakes in Vietnam.  Still, it is wrong to flaunt jazzed up stories in a painfully one-sided manner.  I am pretty sure most of the UEF students know that this is the case.

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