We did so much in such a short amount of time, I don’t know if I have the space to do any of it justice.
Instead, I think I’ll do this the hard way and focus on our visit to War Remnants Museum first. I don’t think there was anything I could’ve done to prepare for the emotional onslaught. I knew that people died. I knew that Agent Orange had a horrible effect on soldiers and the people of Vietnam. But seeing it in person? I cannot describe how inadequate my prior knowledge was. In the museum, we saw photos and accounts of the victims. What hit me the hardest was the exhibit of Agent Orange as told through children’s drawings. I can’t describe it – all I can do is recommend that if you ever get the chance, you go there yourself.
War is horrible. There are no winners. Being an American in that museum, I felt dirty. I love my country. But how can I justify that when I’m literally looking at the brutality that my country has caused?
The version of the war we saw today was different than the war I learned about in high school. Instead of America swooping in to stop the spread of communism, I saw Vietnam wrecked by American aggression. I know that in all situations, especially ones as complicated and crucial as war, nothing is black and white. Many American soldiers did horrible things, but so did Vietnamese soldiers. In both cases, most wanted nothing to do with this war. There’s more nuance than “America is imperialistic and aggressive” and “communism is evil and must be stopped at all cost”. Either way, I didn’t feel settled after leaving. I’m glad to have seen the war from the other perspective. In all honesty, I wish all of history was taught not just from the perspective of the teacher, but from the side of the opponent as well. Maybe then we’d have a better shot at preventing wars like these in the future.
After the museum, we went to the Ben Tanh market. I am horrible at bartering. I did manage to pick up a few souvenirs, without being ripped off too much (I hope!)
Tomorrow we head to Cat Lai terminal!