Today was the first whole day for my family to roam around Ho Chi Minh City. We were excited, at the same time we bore in our minds that we want to minimise unnecessary costs. Therefore instead of following a half day city tour that charges us about USD 30 each (approximately RM 100.00 each), from my past experience I considered this city as a tourist-safe city therefore we opted to tour the city independently.
We relied on the net for halal eating outlets and the map of the city to guide us today. As for me, I hate reading maps, fortunately my sister Deena is the more reliable one so we just followed her lead.
Deena organizing the places we would like to visit according to their route of destinations.
At the reception, yes that was the super nice, customer-friendly Huy that spoke his English with very strong American accent.
Before our departure, we showed the first location we wanted to head in the map to the bellboy, then he hailed a cab for us and informed the driver. He even assured us to always take Vinasun cabs for safety to ourselves as well as our money ;)
With Ummi in the comfortable Vinasun cab.
One of the decorations for New Year 2010.
Our first destination, that is the back of a very famous church. Old looking, not very attractive.
Check out the front, impressive I must say =) People, this is the Cathedral of Notre Dame which was built in 1880. Yes the name is exactly like the famous cathedral in France but that is no surprise because France was one of the super powers that colonised Vietnam.
Check out this pic of Nana. It gives more of a Parisian feeling rather than being in HCMC. Due to the French colony, the architecture of the buildings in HCMC has very strong French influence in them.
The Virgin Mary statue with a unique story. It was reported that there was once a few years back that this Virgin Mary 'cried' and her tears stained her face. If you look at her face closely, you could see the traces of her 'tears'. This sighting must be a remarkable experience for Christians.
Oh I love these wonderful, gorgeous sunflowers that really cheer up the landscape of the cathedral.
Now let's check out the beautiful interior design of the cathedral.
A classical French design made from brick and wood.
A woman making her prayers in front of another Virgin Mary statue.
Aaah yes now let's proceed to the nearby famous building, located just next to the cathedral, the Post Office. Yes it's only a normal post office but it's beautiful classical architecture that made it so famous among tourists.
Here, the interior of the post office which is so vast. Kind of reminds me of Grand Central Station in the US, haha never been there yet but just saw it in the movies.
Besides dealing with your letter delivery and paying your bills as well as exchanching currency, there are lots of stalls selling souvenirs here especially for tourists. The prices here are quite reasonable and I remind you that if you like to buy postcards, they sell here at about VND 10,000 - 20,000 (approximately like their 1-2 Dollars) instead of where my sister was cheated by a little boy selling 10 postcards at VND 100,000 (which is like their 10 Dollars) so my sister was fumed but I said as tourists yes it's hard for us not to get cheated but just regard that as alms for the poor boy.
On the right and left side of the post office entrance, they locate the gift shops for wider choices.
The gift shop selling lots of interesting local products be it handbags, T-Shirts, home decor and other knick knacks.
This cap looks like it could be bought at GUESS? due to its letter G but actually it says SG that stands for Saigon.
Fine ceramic statues for decoration. The ladies here are wearing the traditional Vietnamese costume which is Ao-Dai (pronounced as Ao-Yai) and we were told that the triangle shaped hats are worn by Miss Saigon while the round, flat hats are worn by Miss Hanoi. Ummi bought one of these.
Yes we saw these in many gift shops. Cloth bag itemized to keep your lingerie, wet bikini and slippers for your ease to pack your luggage.
Ok now, chop chop! Let's proceed to our next destination, about 5-10 minutes drive to the Independence Palace.
The Independence Palace
Since it is a historical building, many school children came for their field trip. It's so amusing to see the teachers frantically trying to organise these kids who keep chatting and waving at tourists. So cute!
Ok, the Independence Palace is the administration building for the government of Vietnam in the 1970s. During the Vietnam war, it was in the hands of the Americans and the fighters of Vietnam attacked this palace and toppled the government then which symbolically attained Vietnam independence. If my info is not complete, please check them out by yourself ok :)
The Banquet Room. Ok if you notice, since this building was used in the 1970s so the interior design and the furniture used are very retro looking. It somewhat gave me the feeling that it was a base for the retro spy agents like Jefri Zain and Nora Zain hehe.
This is the room for announcements to be made to the reporters as well as to the important related people.
There's a small garden at the backyard. Nothing impressive but shows how complete the architecture of this palace is.
Gifts from international delegates. I really could not comprehend the number of animals killed here especially the feet of the elephants *sigh*.
Now at the vast field in front of the palace, the actual army tanks which attacked the palace in the 1970s were exhibited. Yup those are the teens of Vietnam following their school trip.
I love this one! A pic of Nana with the primary school kids. The kindergarten kids were cuter but they kept smiling but too camera shy :p
In the middle of the hot afternoon, it's nice to drink some fresh coconut juice sold by the roadside.
Then after visiting the Independence Palace, we wanted to check out another place which has the traces of the infamous Vietnam War in the 1970s. We decided to go to the War Remnants Museum. We asked the guy selling the coconut juice and mineral water whether it's best to go by cab or just walk there. He told us it was easier for us to walk and showed to us the direction on the map and it took us about 10-15 minutes of walking only from the Independence Palace.
TO BE WARNED, THE PHOTOS BELOW WILL BE HEAVILY LOADED WITH EVIDENCE OF THE WAR. SOME PHOTOS MAY BE SERIOUSLY DISTURBING SO IF YOU HAVE A WEAK HEART, I ADVISE YOU NOT TO READ FURTHER. I TAKE NO RESPONSIBILITY IF ANYTHING UNDESIRABLE HAPPENS TO YOU.
Please read the US Declaration of Independence above. It was adopted on July 4, 1776. This piece was put at the very begining of the exhibition display. It says that ALL MEN are created equal and have certain UNALIENABLE RIGHTS including LIFE, LIBERTY and the PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. This was embraced by the Americans since the 18th Century.
Check out the irony below that occured in the 20th Century in Vietnam...
Photo 1: Even women and babies are targets of US Americal Divisions mopping up operations (Quang Ngai Province, 1967).
Photo 2: The father of this little girl was arrested by GIs. She implores them "DON'T KILL MY FATHER."
Photo 1: Results of US policy "BURN ALL, DESTROY ALL, KILL ALL" in Binh Duong Province in September, 1970.
Photo 2: A peasant subjected to tortures.
Body Count. A U.S military's yardstick to measure success for the war, "IF IT'S DEAD, IT'S VIET CONG."
"They decide on a water torture. A rag is placed over the man's face and water is poured on it, making breathing impossible." Members of the 1st Air Cavalry use water torture on a prisoner - 1968. Hmmm, a method still being used in Iraq and the Guantanamo Bay.
FYI, the US Army used a certain poisonous defoliants, I can't recall the scientific name but it not only destroyed the forests and crops which destroyed the source of food for the Vietnamese but worse created a horrifying impact on the human genes. Just recall the Hiroshima Atom bomb in the 1940s and below is the impact of the bombs and the poison spread in the 1970s just imagine the impact of the bombs exploded in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine in this new millenium. Should be more horrible right? For you who do not know, please google for FRANKENSTEIN BABIES in Iraq, a group of genetically mutated babies born due to the poison and radical chemical elements used in the war. Of course the US government would not inform us about this, but I saw the photos of the poor Iraqi babies in Al-Islam magazine, showing babies born without brain, with one eye and other unimaginable conditions.
To give you some ideas, please check out the photos below that have similarities with the Frankenstein Babies.
Children born after the war. Since the chemical affected the genes in the sperm of Vietnamese war, even the babies born in the late 1990s were affected.
Remember this? This was the Cathedral of Notre Dame being burnt during the war. Now it was rebuilt as though it has never been touched by the war.
Please read the quote of the US Commander above. Who did they think they are to have the right to bomb a civilization back into the Stone Age?
An excerpt of the Declaration of Independence of Vietnam in 1945 which failed to be enjoyed by the Vietnamese thanks to the intruding US.
At 10.45 a.m, 30th April 1975 the liberation army attacked and occupied the Independence Palace, forcing the Saigon Administration to surrender unconditionally, terminating the resistance against foreign invaders to restore national independence and unity for the people of Viet Nam
Above is the story written in LIFE magazine (Ummi said LIFE magazine made the most truthful reports of the Vietnam war) about Robert Capa, an American photographer that captured truth in his photos but was killed as well. The sacrifice and the duties completed by the photographers during this war were highly recognised because a picture speaks louder than a thousand words.
As you could see the photographers captured important evidence through their lenses. Check out a few of my favourites below.
This was the fully coloured LIFE magazine that consisted of many true, horrifying photos taken by the photographers in Vietnam.
At the end of the war, many American GIs suffered mental torture due to the sufferings witnessed by them during the war. Ummi told me another reason for the Vietnam war was because the American government itself wanted to kill their own men so that America would be less populated that was why they sent troops of army to Vietnam. Same goes with the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, I truly pity the Americans who have lost their loved ones in wars.
Love these photos captured above. Showing a very calm and dedicated medic treating an injured friend. Please read the story below.
"In March 1960s (I can't see the date clearly here) the US Govn sent its troops to Vietnam. Each US soldiers coming here received ... called 'a new War style' stating "We come here to help the people and conquer the South of Vietnam. We come here to save the whole South East Asia from communist aggression and oppression. By that action we can boost the security for the United States." But what the US soldiers had done were arresting and killing normal people, including children, women and older people; destroying houses, schools, hospitals, spraying defoliants to devastate forests and crops..
Among 6 million turns of US soldiers being sent to Vietnam, more than 58,000 were killed and over 300,000 wounded..A word of my own, during the Vietnam war, they insisted on saving the South East Asia from the communist, now in the war of the Middle East, they used the 'Muslim Terrorists' as their so-called enemy. Just another false excuse for them to conquer the power over the weaker ones.
A drawing of an armed Hanoi woman, portraying that even women fought in the war against the invaders of their country.
The best magazine cover seen here. Smiling US Presidents vs Weeping women over the dead bodies of her family members.
At the museum, I held back my tears from crying because I did not want to feel weak. I am truly sorry for the Vietnamese but they have all my respect and honour for being so strong and courageous despite the small built of their bodies. My mum chatted with a Jewish woman at the museum, she too, hated the attacks between Israel and Palestine. She said many lives were killed as though that the political powers own our lives. It is so unfortunate that most of the time, the people love peace and unity but the governments turned us against each other.
Ya Allah You are the Lord of mankind, the only refuge for us to seek help. Ya Allah please help us please. Please help not only my brothers and sisters in Islam but also the weak, innocent ones regardless of their colour and faith.
Lovely readers as well as myself, please love peace and unity for the sake of our happiness and our beloved upcoming generations.
As the US Declaration of Independence 1776 stated, Happiness is something to be pursued. May we all be strong in pursuing our happiness despite the robust attack of the evil enemies.