Saturday, June 11, 2011

Where's Charlie?

Well I've been in Vietnam for almost two weeks and I feel like I have a million things to write about. When we first arrived in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) we dropped off our bags at the hostel and went to find some food. I had my first Vietnamese meal and it was delicious. A big ol' bowl of noodles with chicken and plenty of cilantro. YUM! I was quickly taken aback by the great number of Soviet flags flying alongside the Vietnamese flags pretty much every 5 feet. 
I found out it's the leader’s (North Vietnam) way of showing solidarity and thanks to their communist forefathers in the former Soviet Union. Swell! It didn't feel like a communist country until we couldn't get on Facebook, YouTube or the BBC. Our hostel guy quickly showed us how to get around those blocks and we happily reconnected with the world without fear. 
One of the entrances to the tunnels
We woke up early the next morning to head out to the Cu Chi tunnels. They are a giassgantic underground network of tunnels that the Viet Cong used to hide from the US troops. The tunnels exist all over northern Vietnam and were how the VC planned to take down Saigon. It was pretty amazing to see the tiny spaces that the VC were able to get in an out of. Also to know that the entire network was dug by hand. They have made a section of the tunnels “western size” so that big foreigners can fit through. Laura walked through about 25 meters of it in a squat position Brittny tried but turned around at the opening. Good on both of them I was just fine staying above ground thank you very much.  

I’ve learned about war in school and watched it in movies but actually seeing the giant craters left from the B52's that dropped bombs on the area was a real eye opener. We also saw the traps that the VC made to capture US soldiers and then, the highlight of the day was when we got to watch a propaganda video that was made around 1965. My favourite quote from the movie was "Americans are crazy white devils who come in and kill our men, women, chickens and ducks. They bomb our children, schools and pots and pans. They will not stop until they have made Vietnam a dead land." Ducks? Pots and Pans? I'm sure those are the memories that haunt the thousands of soldiers who suffer from PTSD. Where are the LIFE photos of ducks running down the street covered in napalm? I certainly don't mean to make light to the tragedy of war in any way but the video was so ridiculous. It infuriated me and filled me with an extreme frustration that I've heard many folks who lived during that time voice during my life. We were trying to help. Those "crazy white devils" were only doing what their government sent them to do and the VC creeping around setting booby traps and convincing the people that we were going to enslave them didn't help anything. I'm glad I went and it made me see how the US soldiers really stood little chance against the guerrilla tactics that were used. I left with a sense of pride for all of the people who did were up against the terrible terrain, bugs, bombs, mind games, hunger, pain and every other fear and obstacle associated with war.
The more I travel the more I hope to be able to home school my kids so that I can take them around the world to show them all of the things a book just can't teach you. I have learned more world history in the past month than I did in all of my expensive education. I feel very slighted by the regents system for making my teachers spend what felt like months teaching me about the French revolution but about 1 week on all of the wars after WWII. It's a great feeling to learn something new about myself and my world every day after all that's what life is all about.. Experiences.

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