Disturbing Image from Vietnam

“I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.”  — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
A vermented bear I found in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

This is definitely one of the most disturbing things I have come across during my travels.

What was your most disturbing moment?

Wordless Wednesday: Life continues along the Mekong River

The Vietnamese people rely on the Mekong River for almost half the water used to irrigate their crops. The Mekong River also serves as a significant transport channel for the Vietnamese people. It is also a trading centre; as the Vietnamese hold their floating markets on the river.

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday

Wordless Wednesday: Life along the Mekong River

Cambodians heavily rely on the Mekong River for their food supply and livelihood. Almost 80% of the protein intake of Cambodia is dependent on the fish caught from the Mekong River.

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday

Sunrise on the Mekong River

Sunrise on the Mekong River
Mom and I watching the sunrise on the Mekong River

One of my most memorable experiences was watching the sunrise while floating along the Mekong River in Vietnam with my mom. The Mekong River is the 12th longest river in the world. It is about 2,700 miles long and flows through China, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar.

Sunrise on the Mekong River
Floating down the Mekong River

My mom came to visit me in Ho Chi Minh city, Vietnam where I was living and teaching English in 2008. We got to “cruise” along the Mekong Delta from Ho Chi Minh city all the way to Cambodia where we spent most of our holiday together.

One of the highlights of our Mekong Delta trip was getting up at 5am to be on the river at sunrise. We had a guide who rowed us along the river al the way to one of the rural villages along the river.

The Mekong Delta is the region in southwestern Vietnam where the Mekong River approaches and empties into the sea through a network of distributaries. It’s a water world that moves to the rhythms of the mighty Mekong, where boats, houses and markets float upon the innumerable rivers, canals and streams that criss-cross the landscape like arteries.

We had such a peaceful morning, floating past the villages on the bank of the Mekong River and even past the floating houses that are found in certain parts of this river.

Sunrise on the Mekong River
The banks of the Mekong River

This is definitely one of my top 5 travel experiences!

The foreigner tries Kung-Fu

While living in Ho Chi Minh City I tried to experience everything about the Vietnamese Culture and decided to try something ” Vietnamese”. So I went out and signed up at a local pagoda in my neighbourhood for Kung-fu classes. I was so excited at the prospect of learning a martial art that I didn’t even flinch when I found out the class was in Vietnamese only. I was planning on learning Vietnamese anyway and wasn’t going to let the little fact that I couldn’t understand it yet scare me away.

We had lessons twice a week and the group I started with were quite intrigued by this foreigner trying to follow instructions she couldn’t understand. They all took turns trying to show me how to do something although none of them could speak English. I had to watch and follow my class mates closely but soon picked up some of the terms they used. Each lesson I would have different instructions written on my hand that I would then learn and try to commit to memory. I started small with left and right, then forward and backward. I also had some of the phrases our teacher repeated a lot when it was my turn translated. One ended up being “ Do it Again!” as I had to do a move a couple of times before the teacher said I could go.

It fascinated me that even during rainy season we were expected to continue with our training in the rain. Although I don’t like doing anything in the rain I showed up and continued my training with everyone as I was determined to learn and pass on to the next level.  After a while a new student joined the class who could speak a little bit of English. I was very excited as this meant that I could  find out what some of the other frequent phrases my teacher used meant. It was from him that I found out that my teacher never said, “That’s ok, you can go now.” as I thought he did after making me repeat a move a couple of times. He would actually always tell the class: ” Don’t do it like the foreigner!”

To be honest, I couldn’t feel offended by this as I was definitely the worst student in our class. After a couple of months I was still in the beginner group, while all my class mates had moved up a couple of levels by then.

I would love to blame this on the fact that I couldn’t understand the instructions and not on the fact that I am just useless at kung-fu.

Unwanted Night visitor in my room

 I loved the narrow three story house tucked away at the end of the alley where we lived in Ho Chi Minh city,Vietnam. Three of my co-teachers and I shared this house, in one of the Northern Suburbs, far away from the touristy areas of the city. This was the perfect place to experience the culture as I did my shopping at the local fruit and veggie market, spent afternoons at the local coffee shops with my book and tried out all the local dishes sold in the area. Doing this forced me to learn Vietnamese as there weren’t a lot of people in the area who could speak or understand English.

 The house where we lived was huge as each one of us had a massive on suite room and if you were lucky a small balcony. Downstairs we had a kitchen slash TV room and even a small living room which we used as a garage during the rainy season so that our bikes could stay dry. Going up the winding staircase my room was on the first floor with a small balcony, the ideal place to sit and chill on a hot summers night.

At the end of the alley there was a small Cau Dai pagoda so most evenings and even at 4am in the morning we would be greeted by gongs and the ohm-ming of the worshipers. The first night this happened I jumped up and thought someone was attacking us. It took a few weeks for me to got used to these gongs and ohms at 4am and before I could sleep through them.

During the summer months Ho Chi Minh city is hot, humid and even sticky, making having an air-conditioning unit in ones bedroom a necessity. Unfortunately mine broke down and they could only come and fix it later that week, so I had to find other ways of cooling down for the next couple of nights. That first night I had a cold shower and lay down on my bed with balcony doors open to cool down in the breeze. I had every intention of getting dressed and closing the doors before going to sleep, but unfortunately that didn’t happen.

 Something woke me up in the early morning hours and as I sat up there was a small Vietnamese guy crouched next to my bed. As soon as he realized that I was awake he stood up holding my handbag and camera in one hand and my mobile phone in the other.

“You Ba&!?*d” I shouted as I got up and jumped onto this little unwanted night visitor. This caught him totally of guard and he didn’t know what to do.

I started hitting the guy, screaming at him to get out of my room and leave my stuff alone. I was definitely not going to let him get away with my things without putting up a fight. This little guy must have been just as scared as I was as he looked like he was trying to run for his life from this crazy, half naked woman attacking him.

I got him to drop my handbag and camera but he was stronger than me so pushed me off of him. Not one to give up, I jumped back up and continued to hit and scratch at this little Vietnamese visitor as he fought to get to the balcony. Pushing me away one last time, he made his getaway by jumping down from the balcony onto the street.  He must have hurt himself in the landing and I was not one bit sorry about that.

He was hobbling down the alleyway as I stood on my balcony shouting some last departing remarks at him.

I did then realize that this must look quite a sight having this half naked foreigner standing on her balcony shouting in a strange language. So I calmly turned around, closed the balcony doors and got dressed before going down to make myself a cup of tea.

What scary travel story do you have to share?

Tips on Riding a Motorbike through the Chaotic Streets of Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Riding a Motorbike through the Streets of Ho Chi Minh
Me on my Yellow motorbike!!
Bikes of Burden from Vietnam
Chaos on the streets of Ho Chi Minh!

Ho Chi Minh City is a world where old and new competes to survive in this dense populated city. It’s a city filled with skyscrapers, ancient temples, motorbikes, people on bicycles and every inch of it covered in tall slim buildings.

The streets are overcrowded with motorbikes, piled with up to 5 people each fighting for way with taxis and even trucks. The streets look like organized chaos with motorbike drivers talking on cell phones, not abiding traffic signals, and not even driving in the same direction as the traffic flow.

Riding a Motorbike through the Streets of Ho Chi Minh
Me driving through the countryside of Vietnam

I dared to brave the streets of Ho Chi Minh City on my bright yellow Honda cup only after about a month of living there. The first couple of weeks just crossing the street felt like a brave life risking thing to do. I have never seen so many people on motorbikes in one place, and they don’t actually stop at the traffic lights. You have a mere 30 second gap in which you have to weave through the motorbikes to the other side before they start moving again.

Riding a Motorbike through the Streets of Ho Chi Minh
Just crossing the road is a dangerous mission!
Riding a Motorbike through the Streets of Ho Chi Minh
My “buttercup”!

I got myself a canary yellow 1969 super cup motorbike. It couldn’t go faster than 60km per hour but in a city as crowded as Ho Chi Minh City you don’t need to go faster. And the up side of this was that when I got into my first accident I wasn’t hurt too bad because I was going at a snails pace. The down side was that my motorbike had no petrol gage so I did get stranded a couple of times without gas. But then you didn’t have to walk far before you saw a brick with a white paper cone in it on a corner. This was where you could quickly buy petrol on the street. The first time this happened and the little Vietnamese dude brought me a bottle of green petrol I thought they were trying to trick me, petrol should be red shouldn’t it? Well in Vietnam you get dirty unrefined green petrol, the cause of all the black fumes in the city.

Riding a Motorbike through the Streets of Ho Chi Minh
I just love my yellow bike!!
Bikes of Burden from Vietnam
Riding a Motorbike through the Streets of Ho Chi Minh

I quickly learnt to never leave the house without my little fog mask…looks like a dentist mask but it helps you from chocking on all the fumes you will be inhaling while driving.

Riding a Motorbike through the Streets of Ho Chi Minh
The streets of Ho Chi Minh City

If you do rent a bike in Saigon, and if you’ve never ridden one I don’t recommend to learn here, remember a few tips here;
1. Traffic will come from all directions, no matter what side of the street you’re on
2. Red lights don’t always mean stop here, so keep you eyes peeled when you go through a green one and don’t try going through an orange one
3. Large trucks often don’t have brakes or don’t use them.
4. Watch out for the boy racer coming towards you, he will likely swerve all over the place to impress mates or the poor girlfriend on the back.
5. Be careful when driving along side busses, especially mini busses, as Vietnamese are notoriously car sick and a face full of vomit is not pleasant
6. I advise wearing a helmet everywhere especially on the Highways
7. As a foreigner in an accident it is more than likely, no matter what happened, you would be in the wrong. If it’s not your fault get the hell out of there as quickly as you can. If you do stop make sure you remove your keys and put them in your pocket.
8. Puddles in the road often hide very deep holes, don’t drive through them, it is not a very enjoyable experience.

Safe driving

Riding a Motorbike through the Streets of Ho Chi Minh
Riding a Motorbike through the Streets of Ho Chi Minh

If you are not renting a motorbike there are a couple of other transport options available, namely, taxis, “xe om” (motorbike taxi) and “cyclos” (bicycle taxi) otherwise known as a rickshaw. Xe means motorbike and Om is cuddle, cuddle bike because you have to hold on for dear life, also check for BO before you get on.

Riding a Motorbike through the Streets of Ho Chi Minh
On the back of a xe om!
Bikes of Burden from Vietnam
Bikes of Burden from Vietnam

General advice on these guys: on the whole they are reliable and safe, I always look for the oldest bike mainly because with a foreigner on the back they can’t go fast. Otherwise they go as fast as they possibly can and you end up holding on for dear life in the hectically busy streets. Late at night is not a good time to use them, especially around Phan Ngu Lao, there are lots of reports of dodgy dealings so either use one you know (used before) or get a taxi.

Taxis services have dramatically improved in the last few years with some professional companies opening up such as Mei Linh and Vinataxi. But still there are a few rouges out there so here are some tips: You don’t need to bargain for a taxi, if the driver tries, get another taxi. The most common trick is for them not to start the meter, if he refuses get out and get another.

Someday cars will overtake the streets in Ho Chi Minh City, but for now, motorbikes rule, and cyclos(tricycle rickshaws) co-exist. The bicycle-like contraptions that are a quick mode of transportation for both tourists and locals are almost a national symbol. They cover the streets, they cover postcards, and they employ about 60,000 people.

Motorbikes in Vietnam
Motorbikes in Vietnam

Enjoy your travels around Ho Chi Minh City.

Throwback Thursday, is a weekly reminiscent movement where you re-post past events or photos. They can be from years ago or from just a few days ago. Its a great way to look back fondly on some of your favorite memories…… 

Surviving My 3 Motorbike Accidents in Ho Chi Minh City

Motorbike Accidents in Ho Chi Minh City
Traffic in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City is filled with skyscrapers, ancient temples, motorbikes, people on bicycles and more motorbikes. While living in Ho Chi Minh I got myself a canary yellow 1969 super cup motorbike, which I named Buttercup. It couldn’t go faster than 60km per hour but in a city as crowded as Ho Chi Minh City I rarely needed to go faster. The streets are overcrowded with motorbikes, piled with up to 5 people each fighting for way with taxis and even trucks. The streets look like organized chaos with motorbike drivers talking on cell phones, not abiding traffic signals, and not even driving in the same direction as the traffic flow.

The up side of crawling at a snails pace along these crowded streets was that when I got into my first accident I wasn’t actually hurt too bad.

Motorbike Accidents in Ho Chi Minh City
Motorbikes everywhere you look!

My first accident happened while going down the hill towards the house where I lived. As I am driving along another motorbike sped past me and turned left. As he turned left he swiped the front tire of my bike, throwing me of balance. Sending me skidding along the tar road to the bottom of the hill. Luckily I was wearing a helmet but it was summer so I had shorts on and ended up with bad road rash on my leg.

My next “accident” had a driver riding into me sideways and hitting my foot, actually ripping my big toe nail half way out. Like a trooper I tried to clean it but just trying to touch my toe had me in tears. So I gave up and drove over to the hospital which was only a block away from where I lived. It took the hospital staff a while to locate a doctor who could speak or understand English as it was a local hospital. But within half an hour they had found a doctor who gave my toe one look and shook his head.

Motorbike Accidents in Ho Chi Minh City
Driving in Vietnam is a skill on its own

Doctor: Do you have pain tablet?

Me: No, why?

Doctor: That is sorry, bring next time.

Me: Okay?!?

Here I was hoping there wouldn’t be a next time, and still not getting why he asked me this.

Motorbike Accidents in Ho Chi Minh City
I was going to try and clean this myself….

As I got onto the bed in the ward he called three nurses over and they grabbed my arms and legs. It then dawned on me that the public hospitals in Vietnam don’t supply any pain killers and that this was going to hurt.

Doctor: Try and keep still, this will hurt.

Me: I have great pain killers at home, maybe I should come back later!?

The doctor only smiled at me and the nurses tightened their grip on me. Knowing that it was going to hurt just made it worse. As he poured salt water over the open wound I nearly peed my pants. I actually tried to twist my toe away and if the nurses weren’t holding my legs down I am sure that I would have kicked the Doctor.

Me: I think its clean now. I will just go now, please! I am going to die here is what went through my mind at that moment.

Doctor:  Ready, Now try not to cry.

He actually continued to clean the open wound with alcohol, wiping it clean and cutting the toe nail a bit. Okay, I admit, at this point the tears were flowing freely, thinking that losing the toe would have hurt less than this.

Thinking the worst was over I nearly had a heart attack as he pushed the nail back down on the open wound and bandaged it up.

At this point I was swearing at the doctor, cursing him and everyone around me. Trying to kick  my way out of the nurses grip. Luckily I don’t think any of the staff or doctors could understand Afrikaans, as I screamed out curses I didn’t even know that I knew.

Doctor: Its finished. Come back Wednesday so I can clean it.

Me: Okay!?Thinking that there is no way I am coming back here again.

Motorbike Accidents in Ho Chi Minh City
Traffic is crazy!

My last accident took me back to that same hospital and the same little Vietnamese Doctor. I was on my way to the market, minding my own business at the traffic light when the truck behind me didn’t stop in time and came charging into and over me. As he came to a halt I was stuck underneath the truck, not able to move. My helmet took a hell of a hit and actually cracked right trough. Don’t want to think what my head would have looked like without a helmet on.

In the fall, my petrol tank cap came off and as I lay there I had petrol pouring down my leg. There I lay, screaming at everyone with cigarettes to back of, as I could just see this ending badly with me in flames while being trapped under the truck. It took the bystanders quite a while to get the truck driver to reverse a bit so that they could pull me out. There were no sparks and I got out without much hassle.

Motorbike Accidents in Ho Chi Minh City
Ready to go even before the light goes green

Luckily my motorbike was only scratched a bit and I was only missing some skin from my ankle.

Motorbike Accidents in Ho Chi Minh City
Didnt look too bad….

Some of the bystanders helped me get back onto my bike and started it for me so that I could drive myself to the hospital and get my foot cleaned. I was at least prepared this time round and took a couple of painkillers before I even arrived at the hospital.

After cleaning and bandaging my foot the Doctor even gave me a compliment.

Doctor: You did not cry this time!

Me: Thanks?!?!

 

They say you should do something brave at least once a year. I think driving a motorbike in Vietnam covered me for a couple of years worth of brave things.

Motorbike Accidents in Ho Chi Minh City
Proof that they do load their motorbikes with up to 5 people…..

What’s your brave thing for the year so far?

Wordless Wednesday: Good morning Vietnam

Good Morning Vietnam
Good Morning Vietnam

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday.

Wordless Wednesday: Round Vietnamese boats

Round Vietnamese Fishing Boats
Round Vietnamese Fishing Boats

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday.

Wordless Wednesday Sa Pa, Vietnam

Sa Pa, Vietnam
Sa Pa, Vietnam

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday.

Wordless Wednesday from HaLong Bay

Cruising through Halong Bay, Vietnam
Cruising through Halong Bay, Vietnam

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday.

Wordless Wednesday Flowers from Hanoi

Flower seller in Hanoi, Vietnam
Flower seller in Hanoi, Vietnam

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday.

“Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette

This weeks photo challenge is Silhouette!! A silhouette is the image of a person, animal, object or scene represented as a solid shape of a single colour, usually black, its edges matching the outline of the subject. The interior of a silhouette is featureless, and the whole is typically presented on a light background,

Silhouette

I took this photo while canoeing in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam.

This week, share a photo with a silhouette. Revisit Wenjie Zhang’s post on the quality of light for quick tips on backlight, or dive into silhouette tutorials byDigital Photography School and PetaPixel for more guidance.

Lake of Sighs or Sorrows, home to Vietnam’s own Romeo and Juliet story

Lake of Sighs
On my way to Lake of Sighs on a rented motorbike

Renting a motorbike and heading off into the Vietnamese countryside was one of my favourite ways of spending a long weekend. My 2 Vietnamese friends and I headed up to Dalat from Ho Chi Minh city for the weekend and spent the weekend enjoying the fresh mountain air. The mountains and lush green forests that surround Dalat offer the ideal getaway from the hectic city.  We spent our weekend driving on winding mountain paths through pine forests and appreciating the fresh air.  We drove past countless small streams and even came upon some waterfalls while on our way to the Lake of Sighs.

Lake of Sighs
My friend Chi clambering down the path leading down to the Lake of Sighs

 One of the things that I love about Asia is that a lot of places have either a myth or a legend attached to it and this makes visiting these obscure places so much more interesting. If it weren’t for my Vietnamese friends I would never have seen half of these strange places as they are not always mentioned in guide books. Most of the legends surrounding the romantic city of Dalat have a love connection and hardly any of them end with a “happily ever after”. 

“According to a legend this is the sight of Vietnam’s own Romeo and Juliet story. ” A young couple met here and fell in love. They sought their parent’s permission to marry. Unfortunately Vietnam was at war with China and the young man was called to arms and left without telling the young lady. She sent word for him to meet her at the lake, and when he didn’t come she was so sad that she threw herself into the lake. Thereafter it was known as the lake of sighs.”

Lake of Sighs
What a beautiful sight. Definitely woth the drive and search
Lake of Sighs
Lake of Sighs is less of a lake now that they have built a damn wall but this is where it used to be

 The lake is not a huge tourist attraction but is frequented by locals especially local couples on a date due to its “romantic” history. The Lake is definitely smaller than what I expected but its peaceful and such a contrast compared to Ho Chi Minh city where I was living at the time. 

There are many walking trails around the lake that lead through the Pine forests and I am sure they are a favourite with couples for a romantic stroll. After driving around on a motorbike all morning it was great to get off and stretch our legs a bit. This walk of ours turned into a photo opportunity with my friends, Chi and The’ posing at varies points along the path. 

Lake of Sighs
What a lovely view as we say goodbye to the Lake of Sighs

Wordless Wednesday : Snake Wine

While travelling around in Asia I found Snake Wine almost everywhere. I still cant believe that people actually drink this stuff!!!

Snake Wine

Watching the making of Edible Rice Paper

While travelling through Vietnam I had the opportunity not only to taste fresh edible rice paper but also to watch how it is made. In Vietnam edible rice paper is used for making fresh or fried spring rolls and is called bánh tráng  I couldn’t believe the ingredients for rice paper is only white rice flour, tapioca flour, salt, and water. It shouldn’t be hard to make then should it? But I found out that for something that is made out of so few products it is quite a complicated process. I got to watch an artisan banh trang producer in Phan Thiet, just outside of Ho Chi Minh City.

This woman had been practicing her craft for decades  and as their rice paper is made by hand and are bigger than normal they can sell them at a higher price than the factory-made ones.

Edible Rice Paper
Carefully she spreads the rice and water batter

First she ground soaked raw rice with water into a pulp before spreading the batter onto a cloth that’s stretched over a wide pot of boiling water. After the batter had been thinly spread (note the wide tool that she uses below), a bamboo lid covers the rice sheet and it’s steamed for probably about 30 to 45 seconds. 

Edible Rice Paper
She makes sure it is thin and evenly spread

Next she used a long narrow stick to lift and transfer the cooked rice sheet to a cooling “rack”. The cooling rack is a very wide slightly domed round bamboo rack with a cloth covering it. The rack spins around and by the time the rack completes a full spin, the rice paper is cool enough to handle. 

Another woman then picked up the cooled rice paper and placed it on a bamboo drying rack that resembles a narrow 6-foot-long stretcher. To dry the cooked rice sheets  into rice paper, the racks are placed outside under the hot sun for a day.

Edible Rice Paper
Rice paper drying outside in the sun

It is the woven pattern of the racks that gives the rice papers their distinctive appearance, which factory-made ones only mimic. The dried, finished rice papers are stacked up, then tied into smaller stacks and taken to market. These rice papers, which were about 14-inches wide, are sold for a premium because they’re made by hand.

After watching this whole process  we got to taste some of the fresh, hot rice sheets with a fish dipping sauce, which was fabulous. Fresh rice paper tastes completely different from the dried ones that you have to wet with a bit of water to get them supple again.

The Crazy House of Vietnam was my favourite place to explore!!

The Crazy House of Vietnam
Arriving at the Crazy House of Vietnam

The Crazy House of Vietnam is a house and a guesthouse slash café slash art gallery and looks like something out of Alice in Wonderland. The Vietnamese version of one of the Gaudi building of Barcelona. It looks more like a Disneyland attraction than a place you would actually live and made me think of Dali and his crazy creations more than once.

The Crazy House of Vietnam
This is actually a house and not a haunted amusement park?!

This topsy-turvy piece of work was designed by eccentric architect Ms Dang Viet Nga who is said to draw paintings of her ideas then give them to local craftsmen to make a reality. She has stated that the design of the house is about bringing people back in touch with nature. I think it definitely brings you in touch with some lovely crazy!

 

This is definitely one of the strangest and most extraordinary places I got to explore in Vietnam and turned into my favourite. The bizarre structure rises several stories above the buildings around it, and from some angles it looks like a kind of convoluted tree stump. The place is filled with caves, giant spider webs made out of fairy lights and wire and even concrete tree trunks that turn out to be the steps leading up to your bedroom.

The Crazy House of Vietnam
I love that all the windows are round or misshapen

One very unique feature is that there are no square windows in the whole house and the whole place is covered in bizarre wooden sculptures. Each room in this crazy and bizarre place is themed after a different animal, including the ant, tiger, kangaroo and bear. Some of these rooms look like caves on the inside and one even has red velvet walls with a mirror above the bed. Unfortunately none of my photos that I took inside this marvelous building came out so this gives me a great reason to visit it again someday!

The Crazy House of Vietnam
Steps leading up to the Guest House rooms

As you can imagine this place caused quite a stir with the locals in the beginning, but they have since grown to appreciate the odd construction. I think it is because it brings a lot of tourists to the area and is a great topic for conversation. 

It has a concrete giraffe with a tearoom inside and even a nude female statue (very rare in Vietnam).

The Crazy House of Vietnam
The Crazy House of Vietnam
The Crazy House of Vietnam
I like the giraffe peeking out in the left hand corner!!

Business manager Thang Viet Nguyen, 38, said: ‘At the beginning most of people did not accept Crazy House because it was too abnormal, odd, and strange.

‘Gradually people understand it more, little by little.

‘Now Crazy House has become acceptable, and is a place that attracts tourists from many other countries.’

The Crazy House of Vietnam
The Crazy House of Vietnam

Wandering around and getting lost in this maze of buildings and rooms is definitely part of the experience. I ended up seeing some rooms more than once and do hope that I didn’t end up missing a room during all my wondering.

The Crazy House of Vietnam
The Crazy House of Vietnam
The Crazy House of Vietnam
Even the passages inside the buildings look like flowing lava

I got to meet the gallery designer, Mrs Dang Nga, who looks like a 1960’s French hippie, and believe me she is just as crazy as her Crazy House. She actually has a PhD in architecture from Moscow and has designed a number of other buildings around Dalat. One of her earlier masterpieces, the ‘House with 100 Roofs’, was torn down as a fire hazard because the People’s Committee thought it looked anti-socialist. Luckily I got to visit it before it got torn down, here is a photo of the entrance.

The Crazy House of Vietnam
This is the cafe of 100 roofs they burned down- luckily I got to visit it before it happened

You can see that she really enjoys designing these strange and outrageously artistic rooms and structures. The Crazy House is a maze of slim bridges, and “flowing lava” that you get to crawl through as you move through the place.  Mrs Dang Nga is still actually busy building on this ” Crazy House” and says that she hopes to finish her vision by the year 2020. I would love to come back once it is finished to see the end result.

The Crazy House of Vietnam
Me peeking out through the “flowing lava”

LangBiang Mountain, where you find horses painted like zebras!

LangBiang Mountain
The three of us arriving at LangBiang Mountain
LangBiang Mountain
LangBiang Mountain

My Vietnamese friends and I biked to LangBiang Mountain from Dalat, which is about 12km. This should have taken us about 45 minutes but we made so many stops along the way to view the waterfalls or lakes we passed that it took us a couple of hours to get there.

We parked our bikes at one of the shops at the bottom of the mountain and stood there contemplating doing the 3 hour hike up or the jeep ride. The 1,900m peak of Lang Biang mountain is reachable by a steep paved path, ideal for a hike,but you can ride up there in a jeep under 20 minutes which sounded so much easier. 

LangBiang Mountain
Yes, its a horse painted to look like a Zebra!!

I learnt that anything is possible in Vietnam and to never underestimate the creativity of entrepreneurs. At the bottom of LangBiang mountain you can pay for a ride or photo with a “zebra”. They have a white horse with painted black stripes and are on a mission to convince people it’s a zebra here in Vietnam!

LangBiang Mountain
Driving up LangBiang Mountain

In the end the three of us voted for the jeep ride to the top of the mountain. The ride up the mountain was very rocky, a bit smoky with the high fumes coming from the vehicle, but the scenery was worth it as we drove through the pine forest leading to the top of the mountain. 

LangBiang Mountain
Through thick Pine forests

The view over the valley and other mountains from the top of the peak is breathtaking. From here we had a fabulous view down over Dalat and the surrounding forests, rivers and houses of tribal people down below. Looking down at the valley below I did regret a little not walking up and being able to enjoy the scenery from up close. 

LangBiang Mountain
Looking Down over the Valley below

Legend says that the name Lang Biang was derived from the name a couple who were deeply in love with each other – the boy named K’lang and the girl named Ho Biang. They fell in love with each other after K’lang saved Biang’s life from a fierce heard of wolves. However, they weren’t allowed to get married due to the long-standing feud between their tribes.

LangBiang Mountain
What a beautiful view!

Generally, there are two versions of this story. One said that at last, they got married and then moved onto a mountain to live. Unfortunately, when Biang caught a critically illness, K’lang had to come back to the tribe to ask for help, the people here shot him with a poisonous arrow. However, it was Ho Biang to be shot since she had shielded her husband. K’lang could not suffer such loss, he cried and his tear made up a big stream which is now called Dankia (the Golden Stream). The second version said that: the couple committed suicide together since they couldn’t get married.

LangBiang Mountain
Looking down over the Tribal Villages below

In both versions, Ho Biang’s father was so repentant of his daughter’s dead that he unified the tribes into one called K’ho and allowed boys and girls in K’Ho group to get married to each other. Their graves then grew into the two giant mountains, and in order to memorize the couple with profound love, the mountain range was renamed into what we call it today: Lang Biang.

LangBiang Mountain
LangBiang Mountain

The Heart filled Valley of Love of Vietnam

Valley of Love of Vietnam
Yes, the Valley of Love is filled with kitsch hearts

Dalat’s Valley of Love is definitely a very cheesy place with a carnival atmosphere but has a beauty of its own. It  is a common stop on Dalat tours and is very popular with honeymooners as it offers so many photo opportunities. The whole valley is filled with corny heart shapes from the top to the bottom and even has loads of giraffe statues standing around.

Valley of Love of Vietnam
The beautiful view at Valley of Love

Throughout history, it has been one of the most picturesque and romantic sites of the city, with many deep valleys and endless pine forests. The tranquil Da Thien Lake, which was created in 1972, also adds a great deal to the attractiveness of the valley in general.

To truly appreciate the scenery is not hard if you can look past the cheesy hearts at the natural valley and the gorgeous flower gates and statues.

Valley of Love of Vietnam
Valley of Love of Vietnam

From the hills of the Valley of Love I could also see the LangBiang Mountain peaks standing out vividly against the blue sky. Overall, the valley was a wonderful addition to our trip to the romantic city of Dalat.

Wordless Wednesday: Woman at Work in Vietnam

Woman at Work in Vietnam
Woman at Work in Vietnam

This post is published as part of Wordless Wednesday

Asia’s most Colourful and Gaudy Temple ever

I quite enjoyed my visit to this very colourful and very kitch temple. It doesn’t look so inviting from outside but once you are inside the colours and dragons and pink is definitely eye catching. I wonder who chose the colour scheme and decided that gaudy dragons is the perfect adornment for a collective religion. The colourful Cau Dai Temple is in Tay Ninh City, which is actually a small town just outside of Ho Chi Minh City.

Cau Dai Temple
The entrance to the colourful Cau Dai Temple

Cau Dai Temple
Close up the entrance is quite colourful

This “Great” holy temple, built in 1926, is considered one of the most striking structures in all of Asia. I do think that they were talking about the interior of this temple and not the exterior which is not very striking.

The name Cau Dai means ‘the highest place in which God reigns’ and sources suggest that the religion has between 2-6 million followers. This was the first time that I had ever heard of this religion so it must not have a very wide spread following.

Cau Dai Temple
I caught some of the pilgrims before entering the temple

Cau Dai Temple
Looking down at the entrance of the temple

Cau Dai or Caodaism is a religion with a colourful mix of Buddhism, Christianity and Confucianism. I couldn’t find any set of “rules” for this religion but understand that it is very peaceful and they meditate a lot.

Pulling up to the temple we were greeted by this huge peach structure. Standing proudly in the middle of the countryside, it does stand out. From the look of this temple it is hard to believe that it boasts an array of stunning vibrant colours on the inside.

Cau Dai Temple
The temple just before the service

We had arrived just in time for the midday mass, one of 4 daily services taking place every 6 hours from noon. I wonder if you have to attend all 4 services or you can choose which ones to attend? I would definitely give the 6am service a skip if it was voluntary.

Cau Dai Temple
Getting ready for the service

Cau Dai Temple
A glimpse from the front

While the service was taking place we got to remain on the balcony and to watch quietly from above. We were told however not to use flashes when taking photos and to please be quiet and not disturb the service. I wouldn’t want to be praying while a bunch of tourist watch me and take pictures of me so it was quite difficult for me to get myself to take photos during the service but I am quite glad that I did take some. Taking photos inside churches or temples always make me uncomfortable, especially if they are working churches or temples and people are worshiping here.

Cau Dai Temple
Such a peaceful service

All the priests and pilgrims gather to pray and chant together at these services and I do wish that I could actually understand what they were saying. It sounded so peaceful. During the service the men and woman are separated with the men at the front and woman in the back. They all kneel down and sit in groups according to the coloured robes they are wearing. They would then bow as a group at certain parts of the service which looked quite spectacular from above. The pilgrims formed a sea of white while the priests stood out wearing either red, yellow or blue. These three colours are worn to symbolise the three principals of Cao Dai – red for Christianity, yellow for Buddhism or blue for Taoism. So I wonder if in essence they actually are still Christian or Buddhist and just pray and worship together?

Cau Dai Temple
A sea of worshippers

The Cau Dai symbol is an all-seeing eye that is seen all over the temple while the temple decor in general is colourfully garish and very interesting all at the same time. I always thought this all-seeing eye was part of the Egyptian culture. Cau Dai is definitely a mixture of so many beliefs it is quite confusing.

Cau Dai Temple
The all-seeing eye

Being able to attend this prayer session was a fabulous experience but it left me with so many questions about this colourful religion and its customs.

Wordless Wednesday: Saigon Fish Market

Fresh Fish market in Saigon, Vietnam
Fresh Fish market in Saigon, Vietnam

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday.

Wordless Wednesday: Good Morning Vietnam!

Good Morning Vietnam!
Good Morning Vietnam!

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday.

Firing AK 47’s and Claustrophobic Underground tunnels in Vietnam

Cu Chi tunnels
The weapons gallery at Cu Chi tunnels was definitely a very creepy place

No trip to Vietnam will be complete without visiting the famous underground Cu Chi tunnels. It is as huge a part of Vietnam’s history as its temples and pagodas. These underground tunnels were the Viet Cong’s (Vietnamese guerrilla army) base of operations, where they lived and fought from during the Vietnam War. As a child I used to watch countless of “war” movies with my father and a lot of these were about the Vietnamese war. It was within these movies that I first learnt about this extensive underground tunnel system and couldn’t wait to see it for myself. Although I would always cringe while watching people go down these tunnels in the movies it fascinated me and I wanted to see if they were really so narrow and complex as in these war movies.

The Cu Chi tunnels were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam War, the most famous being the Tết Offensive in 1968. It was during this fight that the existence of these tunnels came to light. It is quite strange as it is said that an American army base was actually situated right on top of this extensive tunnel system.

Cu Chi tunnels
These tunnels were very narrow, this is our guide standing in the opening of one of the tunnels

These tunnels are located 60km from Ho Chi Minh City in what is now considered a heroic district for the role it played in the anti – American war in Vietnam. The road there from Ho Chi Minh city is riddled with pot-holes but the scenery of the green rice paddies that we passed made up for this very uncomfortable trip to the tunnels.

Cu Chi has an underground tunnel system of over 220km but a lot of it has caved in or is now declared unsafe for visitors.

Cu Chi tunnels
The entrance to one of the tunnel systems

Before we got to see these tunnels we were shown a movie about how and where these tunnels were constructed. It took them a long time to dig these tunnels and I can believe that there were a couple of cave ins and that a lot of people died during its construction.

The Vietnamese did not only hide in these tunnels but lived there and used them as their bases to attack from. These tunnels served as communication and supply routes and also housed hospitals, food and weapon caches and held the living quarters for numerous guerrilla fighters. I wonder if there were some soldiers who were claustrophobic and how they coped with this arrangement.

Cu Chi tunnels
They actually marked some of the bomb sites!

An English speaking guide took us through the forest and as we walked I found it hard to imagine the destruction that must have covered this area during and after the war. There aren’t a lot of signs of damage or of the extensive defoliation that took place during the war left here. There are however clear indentations and craters caused by bombing and mines that were found all over the place. Thus Cu Chi still has some evidence to prove that it was once a fierce battleground.

Cu Chi Tunnels
The only sign that there is life underground….the outlet of the smoke from an underground kitchen

Between these craters and bomb shells are the entrances to the tunnels that were used by Viet Cong guerrillas as hiding spots during the combat.

Cu Chi Tunnels
One of the army tanks standing around and out English speaking Guide
Cu Chi Tunnels
Me on the tank!!

As I walked around the area I come across old military tanks that were left there and countless examples of the traps the Vietcong set in the tunnels and in strategic places in the forest.  These traps were very disturbing in their cruelty and gave me the shivers when I thought of what would happen if you stepped into one of these. I am sure that these traps maimed a couple of soldiers and took a lot of lives.

These tunnels themselves were often rigged with explosive booby traps or “Punji stake pits” which would prevent people from searching them or following the soldiers who lived there. They only found this out by actually trying to follow the soldiers down these tunnels….a very scary thought indeed.

Cu Chi Tunnels
One of the stake pits…just imagine how much damage that would do!
Cu Chi Tunnels
Some of these “traps” are horrific!

The two main responses by the Americans in dealing with a tunnel opening once they found it were to flush the entrance with gas or water to force the guerrillas into the open. Or they would toss a few grenades down the hole and “crimp” off the opening. I am quite claustrophobic so the thought of getting trapped down there made me shiver. I would also vote for getting them out rather than following them down into the unknown. You never knew what would be waiting for you down there.

We got the opportunity to actually crawl down one of these tunnels for a couple of meters along with the guide. But seeing as I am very claustrophobic I gave this a skip but asked my friend to take a couple of pictures down there for me so I at least know what it looks like down there. I am sure they have enlarged this piece of tunnel but it is still such a tight fit….how did they move down it at a speed?

Cu Chi Tunnels
Down in the Cu Chi Tunnels

Above – ground there were actually a couple of other attractions which included caged monkeys which we could feed, a couple of vendors selling souvenirs, and even a shooting range where you can fire a number of assault rifles. “When in Rome….” So I didn’t let this opportunity slip through my fingers. I actually got to shoot an AK47, something I would never have done otherwise. Cant say that I was very fond of firing this huge gun, it made me feel very uncomfortable and was very awkward to hold. 

Cu Chi Tunnels
This is me shooting an AK47!!

Wordless Wednesday: Round Vietnamese fishing boats

Round fishing boats in Mui Ne, Vietnam
Round fishing boats in Mui Ne, Vietnam

Published as part of Wordless Wednesday.

The tastiest Vietnamese Street Food ever!

Vietnamese Street Food
Hallo Vietnamese Street Food

Street food is an important part of every day life in Vietnam and the tastiest way to get to know the culture.

Vietnamese Street Food
Washing dishes at the market

1. The best place in Ho Chi Ming City to try street food is at the Pham market. One of the first dishes you have to try is “Ban Xeo”, which is a large crispy omelet with prawns, pork, beansprouts, spring onions and tones of oil. The golden crepe (rice pancake) is accompanied with a fresh array of vegetables like basil, a savoury leaf (which they call the fish leaf), a large leaf that tastes like wasabi, and a range of others I dont know the names of. Together the flavours fuse into an incredibly crispy, savoury, minty mix!

It’s a messy dish because you eat with your hands so take some wet wipes with you. You break the “Ban Xeo” into pieces and then pack it onto the big fish leaf with an assortment of the other leaves, sprouts and onions. You roll it into a spring roll with the lettuce and dip it in the fish sauce as you eat it. Absolutely delicious!!!

Vietnamese Street Food
Enjoying a lovely bowl of Pho
Vietnamese Street Food
Enjoying beef noodle soup for breakfast

2. If you can imagine beef noodle soup for breakfast, then you decidedly want to tryPho”, aVietnamese dish that has been around for nearly 100 years. You will find a pho shop on nearly every street. The small local “Pho” shops are the best even though they might not always look as clean as you would want them to.

In this classic soup, paper-thin slices of beef are cooked with rice noodles in individual serving bowls into which hot beef stock, herbs and spices have been added. Just be sure to ask for the chillies on a side dish so that you can add it too taste other wise your “Pho” might be too spicy to eat.

Vietnamese Street Food
Vietnamese Rice Place!!
Vietnamese Street Food
My favourite Rice Place!!

3. Another fabulous Vietnamese food source to try are the small family home restaurants. Some of them can only accommodate a few diners and are called “Rice Places”. You can usually get a dish of fish, chicken or pork with rice and vegetables for a very decent price. They usually have very tasty dishes but you have to make sure to get there early before they run out of the best dishes. Eating at one of these Rice Places works out cheaper than what it would cost you to cook that dish for yourself at home. It is here that I was introduces to tea-eggs. Eggs boiled in tea so they are brown in colour. They are tastier than what they look, trust me.

Overall food in Ho Chi Ming City is great, there is something for every taste.

Weekly Photo Challenge: A Split Second of Laughter

This Split-Second story captures a moment at a food market in Vietnam where the woman smile and laugh as they go about their daily shopping.

The colourful Markets of Vietnam
A moment of smiles and laughter in the colourful Markets of Vietnam

For this week’s challenge,attempt to capture a candid moment of a person, place, or thing.  Tell a story by documenting a moment in time through a single image. 

The colourful Markets of Vietnam

The colourful Markets of Vietnam
The colourful Markets of Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh city is filled with street markets filled with everything from fruit to live fish, from meat and dried squid to beautiful fabric. The food markets in Vietnam have some of the freshest and tastiest tropical fruit that I have ever tasted.

The colourful Markets of Vietnam
The colourful Markets of Vietnam
The colourful Markets of Vietnam
The colourful Markets of Vietnam

Smelly, chaotic, people grabbing at you and people shouting in a language you don’t understand…..sounds horrendous, but it’s actually an amazing experience. After all, you don’t have to buy anything at the markets, just go there for the experience. The smell of Durian fruit (which is banned in some places due to it’s pungeant aroma) permeates the air of some parts of the market but there are so many other strong smells that compete with each other.

The colourful Markets of VietnamThe colourful Markets of Vietnam
So much to choose from!!

Depending on what fruit is in season you can usually get a whole kilogram of litchis or tasty mangostenes for as little as $2. The stalls usually appreciate repeat business and you will find that the fruit and food get cheaper after a while as they get to know you and start giving you local prices in stead of “tourist” prices.

The colourful Markets of Vietnam
My favourite part-the fabrick market!!

The one thing that amazed me about the small markets was that some of the stalls only sell one kind of fruit and lots of it. I hope they change what they sell according to what is in season.

The colourful Markets of Vietnam
Any melons anyone?

The markets are filled with fish stalls where you know your fish is super fresh as they are mostly still alive! They don’t just have fish but also clams and even water snails if that is what you are in the mood for.

The colourful Markets of Vietnam
Fresh Fish!!
The colourful Markets of Vietnam
The colourful Markets of Vietnam

This market really has a bit of everything for everyone here, as long as you are prepared to be hassled to buy or if you do find something of interest, prepared to haggle to a good price. Everything is over-priced, every stall holder wanting you to come and buy from them, but you get used to it over here and eventually it just goes in one ear and out the other as far as their sales pitch is concerned. Shop around the stalls, you will generally find another stall with the same items at a cheaper price if you are willing to haggle to it.

The colourful Markets of Vietnam
You cant get any fresher!!

The sellers are friendly and will follow you a few meters if you ask questions about something then walk away (like any market) but this is also a good way to bargain! they sometimes may touch your arm but it’s in no way unfriendly although for someone who is claustrophobic like me it definitely put me off from buying an item more than once..

The colourful Markets of Vietnam
Fresh meat?

Personally I wouldn’t buy meat that hung out here in the market all day long. You don’t see any flies on it right now but I am sure the meat hanging un covered or cooled in the heat is not good for it.

The colourful Markets of Vietnam
The colourful Markets of Vietnam

The most shocking thing that I found at one of the small local markets in Ho Chi Ming in my first week was a fermented bear cub between jars of fermented snakes. Yes it was a real bear cub fermented in wine that men then drink for “strength”. Just like the famous snake wine of Vietnam, in which you have a real snake and sometimes even a scorpion, I would not taste this wine even if you paid me.

The colourful Markets of Vietnam
My worst find ever…a bear cub!

The 3 Tastiest Vietnamese Drinks to try

You can’t help but fall in love with the very tasty Vietnamese drinks and here are the top 3 drinks you have to try in Ho Chi Minh City.

Ho Chi Minh City
Having a lovely strong Vietnamese ice coffee!!

1. Vietnam is hot most of the time, well it only cools off a bit during rainy season and only for the hour or two that it’s raining. While living in Ho Chi Minh City I fell in love with Vietnamese ice coffee or “café sau da”, which is very strong coffee with condensed milk and ice. Believe me it is really refreshing in the heat and gives you a kick start to the day.

Ho Chi Minh City
Coffee dripping into the super sweet condensed milk!

2. Another of my favourite road stall drinks is the sugar-cane juice they sell on almost every corner. The sugar cane is freshly pressed through a mangle at the street side stalls and they add either fresh strawberries or lemons for flavour. You are handed the thick syrupy drink in a small plastic bag with a straw in. Don’t look down on this, it is a great drink and hydrates you on a hot summers day.

Ho Chi Minh City
The best way to cool down on a hot Summer day!!

3. Fresh fruit smoothy blends are sold all over the city. You get every kind of fruit and yoghurt blend imaginable in most of the cafes. I miss the abundance of pomegranate they always added to all their fruit smoothies.

Ho Chi Minh City
Love choosing fresh fruit for my smoothie!

Jade Emperor Pagoda and Good Luck Turtles!

Jade Emperor Pagoda
Arriving at the Jade Emperor Pagoda

My favourite Pagoda in Ho Chi Minh City was the small but quaint Jade Emperor Pagoda. This was my first even Pagoda I got to visit in Asia so it was very exciting for me. It is truly a temple which immediately transported me to a peaceful and tranquil place. It’s courtyards offer a blissful escape from the scorching heat with its large leafy ancient figs trees. It was the most peaceful place I had been to inside Ho Chi Minh city at the time and I enjoyed being away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a while.

Jade Emperor Pagoda
I love the quaint little Jade Emperor Pagoda
Jade Emperor Pagoda
Turtles!!

The pagoda is also known as the Tortoise Pagoda, and has a big pond next to the pagoda filled with tortoises.Hundreds of turtles bask on wet rocks in their “sacred pool”. You can buy a small turtle upon entering the Pagoda and then release it into this pond. They are soooo cute but I do wonder if the lady goes back in and catches them again to re-sell them as I couldn’t spot any teeny tiny little ones inside the pond. But on the other hand the little fellows are fed and hopefully by the time they get a bit bigger they will be left alone inside this tranquil pond.

Turtles in Asian culture represent longevity and are also considered in Vietnam as a symbol of fortune and good luck. It is said that as long as this turtle is happy and healthy you will be too.

Jade Emperor Pagoda
Buying turtles before entering the Pagoda
Jade Emperor Pagoda
Jade Emperor Pagoda

This beautiful Pagoda was built in 1909, and is one of the most colourful pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City filled with statues of phantasmal divinities and grotesque heroes.  The roof is covered with elaborate tile work that is green and red and with the red painted Pagoda it stands out among the lush green trees of the beautiful courtyard.

Taoist, Buddhist and other ethnic mythical stories from various cultures are carved in the walls of the pagoda and I would have loved to be able to understand or read these stories. The pagoda is filled with enormous statues that represent characters from both the Buddhist and Taoist traditions or mythology made of reinforced paper-mache.

 Entering the ancient halls you notice that most statues are stained in a yellow haze of smoke wafting from offering lamps and swirling incense trails. The incense creates a tranquil atmosphere but after a while it does get a bit much and as my eyes started to water I couldn’t wait to get out in the fresh air again.

Jade Emperor Pagoda
Jade Emperor Pagoda
Jade Emperor Pagoda
Me at the Jade Emperor Pagoda

The Figure that dominates the main hall is the statue of the Jade Emperor who is believed to the “god of the heavens”.  It is the emperor who decides who will be allowed entry in to the heavens and who will be refused. As incense swirls around him it  give him a very eerie look, definitely not a creature I would like to meet someday.

Jade Emperor Pagoda
Jade Emperor Pagoda

 

The disturbing War Remnants or War Crimes Museum of Ho Chi Minh City

War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City
War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City

I did the usual sightseeing in Ho Chi Minh City  but the one place that really stood out for me was the War Remnants Museum. The museum was originally named ” Exhibition House for Crimes of War and Aggression ” and changed to War Remnants museum in 1995 after the end of the US embargo.

It primarily contains exhibits relating to the American phase of the Vietnam War.

War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City
I was quite excited at getting to touch the different war vehicles! 
War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City
Me inside the museum

It’s hard for me to give glowing comments for a place that is, in fact, quite a somber experience. However, it definitely creates a very vivid story of the history of Vietnam. This museum documents many of the atrocities committed by the US military during the war.  I find that for the most part they allow the exhibits and pictures to speak for themselves without feeling the need to inject too much propaganda, which is a nice change in Vietnam. 

War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City
War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City

The museum is filled with US armoured vehicles, bombs and even artillery pieces are on display.  There are also pictures of deformed babies, defects attributed to the use of chemical herbicides by the US military. Don’t go if you’re sensitive to graphic imagery of war and combat, or if you’re planning on a light-hearted afternoon. It would be difficult not to be horrified by these photos of mangled children, tortured soldiers and napalm victims.

The deaths, massacres, dismemberment and chemical weapons are a real eye opener and unfortunately each year many more innocent Vietnamese people are maimed by UXO or deformed by poisons lingering in the environment.

Definitely visit if you’re interested in a presentation about the war from the perspective of the people that had to suffer through it the most – the Vietnamese, of course. Even though the museum seems a little one-sided it truly drives home the point that war is horribly brutal and that many of the victims are innocent civilians.

After all this is a Vietnamese story told in Vietnam.