Carols text to me on arrival at Saigon read, Oh my god, the heat! That sums it up!
The day was spent visiting the War Remnants Museum, another trip of my legacy of war n destruction on this trip according to Carol! This museum was originally named Exhibition House of AMerican and Chinese War Crimes. Have never heard so much propoganda in my whole life, Carol reminded me we were in a communist country. Did you know the americans wanted to raze Saigon to the ground, they wanted to totally destroy the beautiful countrydside and peacuful living of the country folk? Nope, the war wasnt a civil war at all, the americans came in to DESTROY Vietnam. Not that Im anywhere in agreement with what they did, but the Vietnamese didnt commit any atrocities, war crimes themselves? Nope, not if you listen to the museum!
But by and far the most terrible thing Ive ever seen in my life was in that museum. they had a display on Agent Orange(a chemical defoliant the Americans used during The America War). There was pictures of deformed children, burnt people, and in 2 jars full of liquid were 3 deformed foetuses, it was the most awful thing. I couldnt look at it for fearing it was real. I couldnt believe it. There is another museum where they had a picture of, and in it were jars n jars of the same, too terrible for words.....
By the time we saw the Tiger cages in which the Americans kept their prisoners I was truly fed up of seing war things, I had spent the morning going round the war museum in Siem reap, where they had loads of bombs, guns, tanks, military stuff, land mines.
It was time for some light relief, got my Ao Dai, such a success am getting another made, and convinced carol to get one too!!
We went to the floating river boat for our dinner, where Im sure our table habits would have offended most Vietnamese, glad we were sitting alone!!
Next day it was a drive out of town to the Cu Chi tunnels. After watching an old war movie it was time to visit the tunnels. the hole is just tiny where they go in. Embarrassingly I couldnae get in, hip bones got stuck, at lest thats ma excuse!!, but even worse, Carol got in and couldnae get out! It took 3 of us hauling on her to pull her out, glad I neva made it in!
She said inside was just horrible, you pulled the small lid over and it was just pitch dark, she said it was complete darkness, the floor went away from just past her, she said it was so claustrophobic. I managed to get in the tunnels, where the entrances had been enlargened for tourists like me! But even in the tunnels, where there was 3 levels, first 3m down, 2nd 6m and the 3rd level where they didnt live but only used for moving around was 10m down, it was still pretty claustrophobic. Walking is only achieved by walking hunched over, and I was followiung the guy who was practically running, 40m felt like 2 miles!
They built over 250km of tunnels, which covered 150km2! Even they kitchen smoke was rerouted by use of a use to miles away from the kitchen so if the americans were to see it, they would assume people underneath, not true! Totally ingenious!
We were shown all these horrible traps they used to rip the enemy to shreds, lots of vicious looking things with huge sharp nails ready to rip all available skin from your body!
Pretty scary stuff, wouldnae wanted to have been fighting them!
It must be pretty terrible to go there, having lost someone in the war, and only imagine how they died, terrible.
Fact- Total US expenditure on the vietnam war and related costs, $925billion!!!!!
Then it was off to Cao Dai province, the home of the Cao Dai religion, officially founded in 1926, and only practiced in vietnam. Based on teh all seeing eye, it hhas th same structure as the Catholic Church, with the pope , cardinals, bishops....
Remember where you heard it first! Victor Hugo(famous French poet) was a huge advocate of this religion, it has still yet to really spread outwards from South Vietnam.
Night time we enjoyed yet another multi coursed tasty Vietnamese meal, before we headed to the Rex hotel for a cocktail, famous during thte war as the place the US used for their press releases.
while in the city I had tried to contact an organisation who had many centres helping underpoverished street children in Vietnam and Mongolia, I had read the books of Christina Noble(Bridge accross my Sorrows, and Mama Tina) last year, and wanted to see the work she, an irishwoman had started with the view to sponsoring a child. Unfortunatley I could not get hold of anyone in time, but a worthwhile cause, check out www.cncf.org.
* Saigon is named after a famous pancake the area was famous for many years ago
* The major world religions have generally been revealed in China, India, and the Middle East. CaoDaiism's roots in South Vietnam combined with its directness with God makes it an extremely unique religion. However, a main theme in CaoDaiism is that all religions are one. This is a strong tie that binds CaoDaiism to all the other religions that God has revealed.
CaoDai "reminds people of their duties towards themselves, their family, their society (a broader family), then toward humanity (the universal family)." From a philosophical point of view, CaoDai renounces wealth and riches as paths to true spiritual fulfillment. From the point of view of worship, CaoDai recommends "the adoration of God, the veneration of Superior Spirits and the worship of ancestors." Spiritually, CaoDai confirms, in harmony with other religions, the existence of soul beyond the physical body as well as reincarnation according to Karmic law (Dao, "Fundamental Principles...").