“Deals are my art form. I like making deals, preferably big deals.”
Yesterday was a slower day but today began with an exciting trip to the Ben Thanh market to buy plenty of souvenirs as well as “practice” our Vietnamese language skills. Essentially we were able to go in and haggle prices down from normal to outrageously cheap by saying “too much” in Vietnamese or by using the old walk away strategy. This was an extremely entertaining as well as productive hour and a half at the market. I was able to pay less the half the starting price of every item, and I bought plenty of souvenirs for people as well as a few nice gifts for myself! I certainly feel like my time at the market was a success, and I wish (at least I think I wish) that markets in the states had an open ended bargaining policy!! It was challenging but fun, and when you are putting in the bartering work it actually makes you think again as to whether or not you really want the product. I have also spent plenty of time with mu friends from UEF and it seems like most of them enjoy this market bargaining system as well, so I believe it is less culturally influenced and more based on confidence in the people skills necessary to haggle with begging strangers.
After this market trip we had a theory of Buddhism class and then a trip to a nearby pagoda to connect what we learned with what we experienced. I have learned in this Buddhism class as well as our history and culture class that throughout history, Vietnam has become a melting pot of religions. Ignoring the regulations on activity from the government, there are still many active religions in this country such as Buddhism, Confucianism, Catholicism and many more! The government certainly allows for these religions to act within their belief. This socialist platform just works to maintain unity in it’s government by limiting activities that it believes may bring harm to the party. When we visited the pagoda pictured below, it was an amazing experience because there were also plenty of “regular people” paying respects to the Buddha before work. I thought it to be interesting to see this belief system in action.
Our final stop of the day was the Ho Chi Minh City War Remnants museum and I must say this was a different experience then I expected, but one I am thankful I was forced to experience. This museum tour consisted of roughly an hour of a young tour guide informing us of the many atrocities our government “does not teach us about from the war”. From torture to the disgusting use of agent orange, we learned about the many negative affects from American actions in Vietnam. What made this so difficult to hear was the way it was presented, as though America was the only aggressor and country at fault for certain unimaginable decisions. This must be under orders from the Vietnam government to have this War remnants museum present the history is such a biased way, but I accept that this happens worldwide, just certainly not to this extent. After the tour we proceeded to look around at the impressive military technology that the Americans possessed during the war. Check it out below, pretty cool!