Hey Everyone, at long last another post. Well we have been in Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City for several days now and I must say aside from a cold I am adjusting quite well. We have done so much in the past few days, and as always I am a little short on time so I will give you a breif overview of the main events.
The first day we got in we spent a few hours wondering around the city. It really all is a blur because of our dear friend Jet Lag. It was nice to see the city and start getting a feel for what I have to look forward to. We wound up having pizza hut that night for dinner in order to ease our stomachs into the food.
The second day we went to the presidential palace, and a traditional market style place for lunch. The Palace was very interesting. During our tour we came across a giant staircase, which you were not allowed to walk down. We were told that it was installed because the palace had been bombed during the war, and so in place of the hole they put a staircase. We later found out from a proffessor that this is entirely false and it was just a landing pad on the opposite side of the building that had been bombed.
The third day we went to the Cao Dai temple and the Cu Chi Tunnels. Cao Dai is a religion that combines Daoism, Buddhism and Christianity. We were allowed to walk around the temple and to take photographs before and during services. We all felt very strange taking photographs during religious services and essentially being tourists in a place of worship. The Cu Chi Tunnels were quite an experience. A majority of the group actually crawled through roughly 60 meters of tunnel. The tunnels also had a display, of the different booby traps they used against the american soldiers. One picture of American Soldiers humping (military talk for hiking, or long journey) through the area had the subtitle, “American Soldiers running for dear life from the fearless Cu Chi fighters” and a propaganda video talked about a girl “gentle of the fields” who won the “American Killer Hero Award.” While I passed on crawling through the tunnels because I have not been feeling well, I did take up the chance to fire a weapon. I have never done this before and was incredibly excited. I fired an M 16, and managed to hit somewhere in the vinicity of the target (likely because the weapons were mounted, and one of the guides held my arm and back so I didn’t fall flat from the kickback).
Yesterday was probably the first day I really felt like I had experienced the Vietnam you see in the guidebooks. I got to see my first rice paddies, my first villagers in conical hats working in the rice paddies, my first bulls, my first shanty village, and even children flying kites. Overall it was really unique. I could not sleep or read on the bus because there were so many unique and fun things to look at out the window.
Today has been a leisure day of classes in the morning, and then a free afternoon until we celebrate two group members birthdays tonight. I did experience my first power outage here, but luckily it was pretty uneventful. One group member was in the shower and that was considerably more scary as the bathrooms get dark quick..
This weekend we are leaving for the Mekong Delta and will return Sunday afternoon. It is going to be a packed few days.
Until we meet again,