Sublime Beautiful Sunday | City Tour with the residents in my apartment
It's Sunday... And it's time for another Beautiful Sunday and Sublime Sunday. I'm always trying something new, something out of the box, something wild, something odd and who knows where this Sunday will lead us.
This weekend, I finally did something which I haven't done for a really long time. I actually went for a city tour of Ho Chi Minh City. Organised by my fellow colleagues, it was a way to gather the residents staying in this service residence to meet each other and spend some time to network. I do think it's a nice gesture since many of us are so busy on the weekdays and hardly have any time to catch up with one another. In addition, since I haven't really gone site seeing in HCMC, it felt a good idea to join.
The trip was to visit the War Remnants Museum and also the Chinese Pagoda Temple which were both located in District 1; just about 15 minutes away from our residence. We gathered at the lobby at 2pm and after a brief introductory, we got into the van and headed off to our first stop - Chinese Pagoda Temple. It was said that this was the oldest Chinese Temple in HCMC and the founder was a Chinese faith believer from China who escaped the country and co-founded what seemed to be now the evolved version of Buddhism, Taoism & Confusion in Vietnam. The word carvings inside the temple were all in traditional Chinese characters; those of over thirty years ago before the simplified Chinese characters were introduced.
I managed to take some photos at the courtyard of the temple but once I was in, I put my phone camera away. It's always important not to take photos of religious buildings; it's after all a place of spiritual beliefs and certain places are best left not in front of camera lense. The teachings and faith of the Vietnamese Gods are very different but in some ways still similar. We stayed on for about 30 minutes and then decided to move on to the War Remnants Museum.
Our tour guide explained that to understand Vietnam, one will need to understand the history of Vietnam; especially during the WWII or best known the Vietnam Civil War between the North and South that lasted 19 years. arriving at the entrance of the museum, all foreigners were required to fill up a health declaration form before entering the compound after paying our entry ticket of VND40,000 per person. The outdoor areas were filled with tankers and flight jets used during the war and a replica of the prison barrack build up for us to see. Mannequins of prisoners were placed inside the barrack which was really creepy. There was even a build up replica of the execution stand; just as how we see it in the movies 😬
Inside the museum, it was partially air-conditioned so it was pleasant to walk around especially when the temperature outside is extremely humid and warm. There were 3 floors; including the ground floor which was like a waiting area. Hardly many tourist like us walking around today since Vietnam is still closed to the outside world. On the first floor, it was known as Agent Orange; if you have read about the Vietnam War, you would've known that Agent Orange is a herbicide and defoliant chemical, one of the tactical use Rainbow Herbicides. It is widely known for its use by the U.S. military as part of its chemical warfare program, Operation Ranch Hand, during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971. It is a mixture of equal parts of two herbicides and has major damaging environmental effects which caused detrimental health problems to many individuals who were exposed.
Looking at the photos on the wall, it is very sad indeed and truth be told, many Vietnamese that underwent the Vietnam War may as well still be living now and their children are still subjected to the effects of Agent Orange. It would take at least another 2 generations before they are fully out of the misery and memories of this painful war. 30 April 1975 is Vietnam's Independence from all foreign intrusion, just 45 years ago ... seems so short for a country that has grown very fast and very significantly in the last 5 years.
I took some photos and even a small short video of the museum just as a memory. Since I'm no fan of any museum, I didn't stay on long in these rooms. Having said that, we were here for almost an hour. By then, it was more than enough for an afternoon of visit. We finished off with some outdoor photography with the tankers and then we decided to head home. It was an interesting city tour; not too long and not too short.
Maybe, the next city tour we should try something more happier; perhaps the Wholesale Market or Fruit Market or something else.