McDonalds and the War Remnants Museum

My fourth day in Vietnam was quite eventful. The morning was similar to my last three mornings in that we had a history and language class.  Today’s language class was actually a bit easier than the last few because the Vietnamese number system has a nice structure. One really only has to know the first ten numbers and then every number after that is some combination of the previous ten numbers. For example, the number 57 is just the number 5 plus the number 10 plus the number 7. This structure made it easier to pick up and I was able to remember things better.

After the language class, we out to lunch; however, we didn’t go a Vietnamese style restaurant. We went to McDonalds. There we had Big Macs, chicken wings, and fries.  While it was nice to have some American cuisine, I could really notice how greasy our food is. Though it was greasy, it was still nice to have a burger.

Then, we went to tour the War Remnants Museum. This museum is a tribute to the Vietnam war. I’m not going to lie, it was extremely hard to go through. All throughout the museum were pictures of the atrocities and destruction of the Vietnam war. There were pictures of massacres, pictures of infants and children deformed by Agent Orange, and exhibits of the war machines used by the US. It’s hard to describe in words my emotional state after I left the museum. My friend, Peter, and I when we were done, left and just sat outside in silence for a while. We still couldn’t fully process the sights and things we had just seen. It was very strange, I felt like I wanted to leave during a lot of the exhibits but something made me need to go through it all. The Agent Orange pictures were some of the most gruesome pictures I have ever seen. I doubt I will forget the images I saw there. However disturbing the museum was, I would have gone back again knowing what awaited me. It was an unique experience that I might never experience again. What truly astonished me was how the Vietnamese people view us now. It has been only 50 years since the end of the Vietnam War, a truly short period of time in the context of history. Although the war ended so recently, the Vietnamese people have a very positive perspective of the US, 84% view the US positively. After going through this museum, I cannot fathom how this can be. The destruction and death caused by the Vietnam War and by extension the US is unfathomable. Yet, the Vietnamese people have been able overcome that grudge and view the US favorable again. To me, that is incredible. Although extremely disturbing, this trip will be one of the highlights of my time in here in Vietnam because how much it made me think. I’m looking forwards to this weekend when we visit a tunnel system used by the Viet-Cong, and I feel this visit helped to provide more context for that visit.

 

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