Trip Start Nov 19, 2002
8Trip End Feb 29, 2003
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Vietman... what can I say?
Saigon isn't like I imagined. It's big and it's nice, as opposed to my picture of it which was small and shit, with GIs hanging around the place talking to girls saying "Youwannafickyfick? Meloveyoulongtimetendollar".
In fact there aren't any GIs here at all, which is probably because the war is over.
There is a rather wonderful place called the War Remnants Museum. It used to be called the Museum of American War Crimes, but they changed the name when American Tourists started showing up. It is the most amusingly one sided account of anything I have ever seen.
There are some American tanks, planes and helicopters left over from the war, which is all very nice, but the best thing is all the photographs. The whole thing was designed with the soul intention of making the Americans look like baby murdering scum whilst the Vietnamese look like heroes. For example, on one wall there are loads of pictures of children scarred and mauled by American "Frag Bombs", and they talk about what a cowardly weapon it was. Then on the next wall, there is a Viet Cong guy messing around with explosives, and the caption is "Heroic Freedom Fighter ingeniously makes Frag Bomb Launcher".
And there were loads of stories about Americans shooting each other, and loads of stuff about the Viet Cong women, and basically the impression you got was that America spent their time torturing, murdering, killing themselves and getting shot by women.
Now don't get me wrong - I hate Americans as much as the next man. But I did feel rather sorry for them. But then I read the guestbook, where everyone had scrawled a little message. Nobody seemed to mention the fact that the entire place was clearly communist propaganda, and that in most wars there are at least two sides... everyone was saying what an atrocity it was and how noble and brave the people of vietnam were and how scummy the Americans were to come around and kill their children. I read the whole thing, and not once did someone say "This is all very well and good mate, but didn't you kill a few people as well?" And most of the messages were by Americans, so I was able to start hating America again straight away.
Then we went to Saigon Water Park, because I'm immature. We figured it would be a tourist thing and there would be a lot of fat germans with towels on all the water slides... no such luck. Because it's Vietnamese New Year, the place was packed with people from all over Vietnam. About 20,000 of them. And they weren't used to seeing westerners.... so we got stared at, pointed at, touched, stroked, pulled, photographed, followed, laughed at, ran away from and generally investigated by everyone. It didn't really help that I had shaved my head the day before after letting my hair grow for 2 months and getting annoyed with it... so I looked kind of like a typical GI - beer belly, skinhead, cigarette, blatent disregard for communist ideals.
And everyone was wearing clothes... which was odd. The vietnamese women tend to keep their clothes on even when swimming, which is fair enough. But most of the men did as well. A few were just wearing trunks, and out of the 20,000 people I saw one girl in a bikini, but apart from that it was all very covered up. Quite odd really watching tghousands of people going down water slides in jeans and t-shirts...
Anyway peeps, all good things must come to an end and all that kind of deal. My gran, bless her, is a wee bit ill so I'm popping back a little early.. I'll be home on monday.
In a bit.