Thursday, July 12, 2012

Kicking A New Decade Off Right

Woke up this morning feeling so rested & un-jetlagged that it wasn't even funny.  After about half an hour in the waterfall shower, making up for the lack of one for the previous two days, and some delicious exotic fruit that we got from the fruit vendor in the middle of the night, we moved into our spacious new family room, complete with sound system and Vietnamese jams.  Also there was beer and red bull in the fridge so we decided we should probably have a couple of those before we headed out to start my birthday off right.

With breakfast complete, we walked a couple blocks down to the Cua Bac Cho Ben Thanh market and walked around until we settled on one of the aggressively marketed food stands- women were literally grabbing people and trying to pull them over & shove them in a chair to eat at their place.

For the record, it seems the Vietnamese are a sleepy people and will nap just about anywhere (meat counters apparently included) which I can get totally get on board with.

We ordered two iced coffees- similar to Thai iced coffee & equally delicious, and Banh Mi- baguettes and sizzling platters of pork, pate and fried egg to put together in a sandwich with a spicy soy sauce to drown it in.  It was so good, I didn't want it to end.

But end it did and we decided to go get some culture so we cabbed it over to the Emperor Jade Pagoda.  It was really beautiful inside with sunlight streaming down through the rafters and the air was filled with the smell of burning incense.  There were many local people praying to their different gods and all kinds of different little rooms to explore.  The only downside was the koi pond was a bit of a mosquito breeding ground and I felt a little like I was being sacrificed.  Totally worth it though.


Next we went to the War Remnants Museum in District 3 which was a pretty intense experience.  All around the outside of the building are planes, tanks & other weaponry on display.

Inside are 3 floors dedicated to preserving the history of the war, from the Vietnamese standpoint.  The first floor was mostly propaganda posters, coverage of anti-war protests and articles about Vietnam's political leaders.  The second floor was a pretty disturbing photography exhibit, explicitly detailing the war crimes against both the Vietnamese soldiers and civilians.  I realize the museum is obviously going to be skewed towards the Vietnamese viewpoint but there is no denying the events occurring in these images and they were difficult to look at.  The room is enormous and by the final section, displaying pictures of the children born with birth defects from agent orange exposure, I had to leave the room.  The third floor was mainly composed of an exhibit which I loved, called Requiem.  It it made up of photographs taken by photojournalists from several different nations who lost their lives documenting the war.  The images were unbelievable and it's just amazing that they put their lives at risk, traveling right along with the military and just the fact that they were allowed to capture everything that went on was shocking to me.

It was starting to get a bit sprinkly outside so we headed back home for some ice cream and a little 4 hour nap.  Unfortunately the Vietnamese appear to be working on an early time table so the restaurant we had planned to eat dinner at stopped serving at 9pm.  They gave us a recommendation to go around the corner to Nha Hang Ngon where we got some killer fried rice and fried vermicelli noodles.  We were hoping for some Vietnamese pancakes and some desert but because it was soooo late at 10pm we were told they were finished.

We went back to the room and waited for the girls to arrive where we had a joyful reunification & story time before resting up for our big trip to the Mekong Delta tomorrow!

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