January 9, 2016
We started out our third day in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) meeting our new enthusiastic tour guide named Lam. In the morning, Lam showed us around the Flower Market located in poorer section of town. As the name would suggest, the area was filled with vendors displaying their bright and colorful flowers. While the streets were small and narrow, the amount of people, vendors, and speeding motorbikes was bewilderingly awesome. However, I think all of us would agree that the takeaway from our short walk through the market was not the assortments of flowers, but the realization of how simply people in this part of HCMC live. They clearly do not own much and operate only small and modest shops. Our presence was warmly met with genuine smiles and curiosity from young children. It was powerful to observe their joy and happiness while they live with so little.
Our tour of the city led us to the Chinese Buddhist temple next. It was a large, five story tiered building with immaculate detail. The first floor was an area of prayer and worship. The second floor held the cremated remains of many people, and had an altar where the family members of the deceased could place worldly remnants for their relatives to enjoy in the afterlife. The next few stories held more areas of worship, with large Buddha statues representing happiness and wealth, along with many representations of dragons carved into various walls and statues.
Lam then led us to the Vietnam War Remnants Museum. Photographs and old war machinery powerfully told tales of sorrow, tragedy, and death of the war. Information regarding agent orange, torture tactics, and bombing weaponry all revealed the devastation that American involvement had during the 20th century on Vietnam. It's safe to say we all left with a truly different perspective on the war.
Dinner was at a beautiful resort on the river with ponds intertwining with the restaurant, which was a buffet style feast. There were many different types of Vietnamese food, from seafood and pork to fruit and grilled veggies. Needless to say, it was delicious and we all left full of great food and culture!
We are looking forward to leaving for the Mekong Delta tomorrow, where we will stay overnight at a farmhouse on an island!
Melisse and Kurt