When I booked my Cebu Pacific piso fare from Ho Chi Minh to Manila way before deciding to actually do a Southeast Asia trip, the driving force was to eat the noodle soup pho and the fresh vermicelli spring rolls in Vietnam.
The ignorant that I am of Asian and world history, the only things I knew of Vietnam were the food I wanted to eat and the war with America.
I totally missed the IndoChina part of their culture, or that it is the Saigon people knew. I think this is why I’ve always been excited about traveling, as it allows me to learn a country or a people’s culture and history not by reading the books but by actually being there. In the same light, I hope to take you on a historical, and perhaps cultural journey, through this FotoFolio, featuring two of Ho Chi Minh’s museums.
Gia Long Palace, officially Hồ Chí Minh City Museum (Bao Tang Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh)
This entire section of the Ho Chi Minh City Museum shows the regular/day-to-day activities of Vietnamese people.
You can see arts and crafts (a lot of which are either carved wood or gold) interspersed with the other sections or hallways of the museum. It’s like walking through an old house, with all it’s majesty, disguised as functional furniture, are on display.
I have always loved learning about a country or a culture’s fashion – not because I am a fashionista but because it also tells you about that country. How? Well, by the looks of it, I feel like Vietnam’s fashion style, especially for women, was quite conservative. Did not necessarily mean that it was lackluster though! In fact, it looks grand. Unless of course the dresses were for special occasions or were for royalties!
Times of War
Another interesting to see around the Gia Long Palace are some artifacts or reminders of the times of war in Ho Chi Minh and in Vietnam. You can see some of it at the Bao Tang Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh but most of it you’ll see at the War Remnants Museum (the next museum featured!), also close by.
War Remnants Museum (Bảo tàng chứng tích chiến tranh)
The war remnants museum is yes, a museum dedicated for the remnants of war in Vietnam. There’s really no other way to describe one of the most popular museums in Ho Chi Minh and in Vietnam. Tourists visit Bảo tàng chứng tích chiến tranh to learn more about the war that ravaged through this Mekong country.
Aircraft and artillery
I must say, I’ve never seen this many aircraft and artillery up close and personal in one place before this. Yes, we have displays like this here in the Philippines too but I don’t think they are located all in one place. Unless of course I am totally mistaken and I would ask Ciel to take me to the AFP museum one time!
Another eerie reminder of the war are the photographs – portraits and landscapes showing the extent of devastation caused by years of fighting. To tell you the truth, this was the first time I learned about Agent Orange — a horrible weapon which affected innocent lives the most. It really made me sad. 😦
You know, I didn’t really pay much attention in my Asian history classes. So getting to see these in real life (or as close to real life as possible) beyond the four walls of the classroom was really enlightening. I believe that wars played an important role in shaping the history of Vietnam, and more importantly, the society. I am just hoping that by learning the lessons from what has been said and done, globally and not just in Vietnam, we, as a human race, will all find a way to co-exist and to take care of one another, instead of putting their lives at risk and in danger.