5/10 War Remnants Museum and More Street Food

Today my day started with the Sixers getting eliminated from the playoffs. Luckily, things got better from there and we got to go to a talk at UEF about Vietnamese culture and history. We even saw a fashion show of traditional Vietnamese clothing.  It was interesting to learn that in high school girls still wear a traditional ao dai because it did not look like a good outfit for the warm weather. After finishing at UEF we got lunch at McDonald’s. This was a funny choice because the people at the school planned it thinking we would want it because we are American. Hopefully for the rest of the trip we will be able to convince them that we are open to trying Vietnamese food.  Regardless, it was still an interesting example of globalization. Next was the War Remnants Museum which was a very powerful visit. Before I left for this program, I watched the Ken Burns Vietnam War documentary, so I was familiar with the war. However, what I saw in the museum still shocked me. In particular, the parts of the museum that showed the ongoing effects of the war. Seeing the horrible damage done by agent orange and bombs that didn’t explode made me feel horrible about America’s role in the war. It’s one thing to do horrible things during a war, but hurting many future generations after a war is a horrible thing. After the museum I needed a bit of time to process everything I saw, but I eventually got the energy to head back out and explore the city. First I headed over to the Bitexco Financial Tower and went up to the viewing deck on the 49th floor. This building is a great example of development in Vietnam as it is a symbol of the modern city Ho Chi Minh City is becoming. Being in the tower feels like being in a skyscraper in NYC.  The trip was well worth it, as the views were amazing. Looking out in every direction, you could see lots of construction. It would be interesting to go back to the tower in 10 years and look out because I probably wouldn’t recognize the city. After the tower, it was off to find some more street food. Yesterday, I tried my first banh mi of the trip, but today I found an even better cart. An interesting aspect of buying food from the tiny carts is that the language barrier is usually much greater than the other parts of our trip. It usually involves a lot of pointing and writing things down to communicate what you want and the price. In the end it’s been worth it, as this is how I’ve found some of my favorite foods of the trip. Afterwards, I walked to a different part of the city and tried com tam suon nuong which is grilled pork chop with broken rice. It was really good, but the guy gave me a free bowl of soup that was horrible and if I get sick in the near future, I’ll know what to blame.  Next I got some more che chuoi again because this is becoming my favorite food of the trip. After that, I walked to a cool park by the hotel that is all situated above water before eventually heading back to the hotel. One of the craziest parts of walking all over the city is dealing with the traffic. It can be very intimidating when you’re on one side of a giant roundabout and you can barely see your destination on the other side due to all the traffic. Over the past few days though, I have slowly figured out how to cross the road. I’ve had to learn to trust the Vietnamese drivers because they are incredibly skilled at getting as close to you as possible without hitting you. However, in the process of learning, I have definitely angered many Vietnamese by being indecisive when I see a motorbike flying directly towards me. 

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