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A day in Ho Chi Minh

Walking in the streets of Ho Chi Minh in the morning is quite the surreal experience. Motorbikes are everywhere around you. There are by far more motorbikes than there are cars on the streets. The more you start to pay attention at the people around you, the more you can understand certain cultural trends. I find it surprising that many people (especially women) look quite pale. Furthermore, you can see certain people covering their faces up or even holding umbrellas when there is no apparent rainfall. Later, I learned that a pale skin tone is greatly sought after in Vietnam, as tan skin tone is often associated with hard labor and field work. There are people on the streets always trying to sell you something (probably because I look like a tourist). Nevertheless, I found myself avoiding direct eye contact with most people after a while, since a mere eye-to-eye glance is enough for someone to think of you as a potential customer. The streets are relatively littered yet not to a degree that might objectively be considered repulsive. As I am heading to the Vietnam war museum, I get to see more and more of the Vietnamese people’s daily life.

The war museum in Ho Chi Minh is nothing short of breathtaking. Outside the museum you can find many military vehicles that have been restored and are open to display. Inside the museum, once can learn details about the Vietnam war and its repercussions to the Vietnamese people. Even though I had been exposed to the American point of view on the war through movies and other media, I had never had the chance to learn more about its nuances. The war left behind millions of dead people (mostly civilians). Yet, there was one aspect of the war that was made clear to me through some of the most haunting visuals I have ever come across in a museum. Agent orange is a chemical that was used in the herbicides that were aimed to destroy the foliage in which soldiers would hide in during the war. This chemical is extremely toxic to the human body and millions of Vietnamese people were exposed to it back then. This resulted in severe injuries and deaths. Even to this day the repercussions of the toxin are visible through the births of mutated and physically distorted babies. The experience was a grim reminder of the atrocities of war…

Ho Chi Minh War Museum
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