08 February 2010

My LAST DAY in HCMC: War Remnants Museum and Reuninothing Palace

It would be my last day in HCMC. I knew it was going to involve a lot of photo-shooting and cam-whoring so I only had this for breakfast (if you know what I mean).
First up was the War Remnants Museum. I had to cover quite a number of places in one day so I decided to ‘defy death’ by riding on a bike. If you want know how crazy it was, check out this video here.
Phew! I was in front of the museum in less than 10 minutes and promptly bought an entry pass.
Here we go. On the front lawn of the museum were a number of millitary equipment used by the Americans to battle against the Vietnamese during the Vietnam War.
And this was my first cam-whored picture of the day.
I assure you, there’d be more:-P. One section of the front yard was allocated to demonstrate the ‘Tiger Cages’ – the infamous prisons SAID to be used by the American-backed South Vietnamese to torture the non-comforming Vietnamese in just about every technique imaginable.
I mean, EVERY TECHNIQUE.
Getting inside the museum, I had been quite unprepared for what I was going to see. There were dozens of photos showing the ruthlessness and heartlessness and mercilessness or whatever you want to call it of the American soldiers in killing and torturing Vietnamese civilian including kids and women during the Vietnam War. Most of them were so visually piercing I had to put in some imaginative illustration of my own in each of the photos so that I wouldn’t get too emotionally carried away.
But some of them were just so surreal even my silliest humorous imagination wouldn’t work at all.
Or even if it worked, I would feel so bad about myself. I mean, how can anyone make fun of something like this?
Or this?

This?
Seriously, they are not fun to see especially when you know they were just SOME of the victims of the likes of Agent Orange, napalms and phosphours bombs by the Americans. And there were more. 
That is why the museum is also known as the Museum of American War Crimes as it was previously named. Oh well, nothing can be more fulfilling than doing some charity for the victims. It was small but at least I did my humanitarian part. :-P

I just hoped my 100,000 ringgits dongs would go to the right people. Ohhhh, placed on the second floor of the building, you wouldn’t miss noticing this amazing sculpture made out of bomb fragments called ‘Mother’ by Nguyen Hoang Huy.
But I found some of the sculptures were quite weird and downright non-sense to my less artistic eyes. I mean, what the hell is this?
Believe me, by the time you have finished making a full round inside the War Remnants Museum, the sight of these would make you wanna puke in disgust.
Due to the volatility during the Vietnam War, the relationship between the two countries had actually remained bitter until they both had finally agreed to a diplomatic relationship in 1992.
Well, it probably is a good idea t put the past behind. Just look at them as a lesson. Besides, Vietnam now is a fully independent country deserving full sovereignty.
I must have spent at least two hours inside the museum before I made my way out and back on the front yard again. There were some more warships and battle tanks worth checking out.
And upon close inspection I noticed that some parts of the battle tanks had been heavily chunked off. The Vietnamese must have been in dire need of metal pieces at one time they decided to scrap it for recycling purposes.
And what was I thinking when I asked this officer to take a photo for me?
Jeez. I felt so bad after that I wanted to get out of there the soonest possible. I should have stuck to cam-whoring.
Out of the War Remnants Museum compound, I walked off to my next destination – The Reunification Palace.
I was lucky. There were not many people around. I took full advantage of it.
And I took some time to dwell over the great significance of this building to the history of Vietnam.
I knew, there were going to be more things to see inside the building. How wrong I was.
Not only that, I was forced to walk up the stairs because all the elevators seemed to have gone malfunctioned for many many years.
All of them!
And what did I see there? Nothing.
I didn’t even know what I was doing there.
And these people? I am sure whoever of them in there must've been thinking how stupid their tour guide was for even bringing them to the so-called palace in the first place.
Seriously, unless you have too much time to kill, it is just OK to skip this palace in any of your visit to HCMC. At least I could get some time to get away from the hustle and bustle of the HCMC deafening traffics though.
If there was anything special about the palace, it’d be the parks that surround it.
And the War Remnants Museum must have run out of space they decided to put some of the war planes and battle tanks at the Reunification Palace.
HCMC people love their parks as much as I do.
Some of them remind me so much of the park at the Versailles de Palais in in France.
After spending sometime there, I made my way out towards the Notre Dame Cathedral.
I knew, I had been there the day before but I wanted to take some ‘real photos’ this time. And true enough..
I spent quite some time taking photos of the cathedral.
And I noticed some things that I did not before, like this one.
The statue was actually of Maria stepping on a snake. Errrrr, it’s a Biblical thingy if you don’t already know. And it seems like you have to pay to pray here. They'll wait until you are done with your praying before slapping you with a 'ticket' and it's not even INSIDE the church. I wondered if there was any chance the money would go to… Him. LOL! It is just wise to pray inside and don’t have to pay a penny. I mean, God listens to silent prayer mahh, kan? :=P
I had actually covered just about every place in my list. I had some place I wanted to go before returning to my hotel. I had to walk past the Opera House again.
And got amused at how some of the HCMC people would prefer to kneel their way around. Kidding. *touch wood.
And how these Louis Vuitton handbags could actually fly they had to be caged.
And what kind of name is ‘The Death’ for a boutique?
I was almost there when I found myself standing on the edge of another heavily crazy traffic. Seriously, I hated it when I had to cross a road. But then, I was in HCMC. There was no way I could avoid it every time.
And you’d see how traffic lights are everywhere in HCMC but NONE of them are actually functional. Probably the authority got tired of spending so much money maintaining them while the people couldn’t even care less of them.
I was scared to death but these two ladies here seemed to be so unfazed at all they were actually laughing their way off. Seriously, HCMC are full of nuts.
I must have been standing there for more than 10 minutes until an old man came to my rescue. He LED me across the road! Whoa!!! I should just have had my eyes closed and pretended to be a visually impaired. A walking stick would have made it more.. real.

On the other side of the road was the Saigon River.
Quite typical for most riversides in big cities and towns, there were cafes and restaurants.
I’d say there was nothing special actually except for this.
I was there in less than 15 minutes before deciding to call it a day. Fast forwarding, I decided to get a one last ride on a bike to get back to my hotel.
It’d be 2 hours before I checked out. There was still time to get something to eat. (Noticed that Thai Basils are found in many dishes in Vietnam)
And to get a little bit too imaginative such as – what would happen if I cut all the wires off with a giant scissor. Those crazy traffics in HCMC must have driven me nuts. I knew I gotta get out of there.
Part of me was actually so eager about getting on a Jet Star flight for the very first time. I had been using Air Asia in just about every flight that I took that the idea of trying some other airline was making me wanna jump on my feet. I knew they were going to merge soon so it would be just good to get acquainted with my favorite airline’s new partner – the Jet Star.
I was so excited I actually found myself checking out and rushing to the airport a couple of hours earlier than I had planned to.
And then….
Welcome to Jet Star!

4 comments:

kenwooi said...

i like going to war museums and see the weapons etc.. and the pictures of the war victims are a sad sight to witness..

kenwooi.com

JIPP said...

yupp. You should go to Vietnam then. Lots of them there. Yupp, the pics were saddening to watch. and the USA doesn't even want to be responsible for all they did. :-(

aud said...

:( .. I don't like war weaponry and stuff like that. Maybe I can give this place a miss when I'm there..

Anonymous said...

You're such an insensitive asshole. What if the person crossing the road on his hands and knees was your father? Still joke about it? What if the kid who was a victim of Agent Orange was your child? Still add captions?

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