Vietnam is a living saga, where every corner is a witness of the bitter past, the ugly ravages of war. Here people are very innocent, but they are firm and resolute. Sarika takes us on a tour of Vietnam, exclusively for Different Truths.
Vietnam was never on my bucket list. What took me there?
A few months ago my colleagues cum friends came home for dinner, while talking they mentioned about their Vietnam trip! Jose was so much excited while talking, he discussed history, vegetarian street food and so on. And Mrinal and I decided to make it happen. The best decision we took! Vietnam is one of the best countries we travelled. It is packed with history, cultural highlights, landscapes and amazing food. Thanks, Jose and Rose.
Vietnam is a living saga, where every corner is a witness of the bitter past, the ugly ravages of war. Here people are very innocent, but they are firm and resolute.
Saigon is the home to many museums, and the War Remnants Museum is the most disturbing one. It tells the worst suffering of the Vietnam War, but it will give you a detail enough to understand about the consequences of the war. Every corner of the museum unfolds the tragic story of the Vietnam War. Though some of the images are deeply disturbing, still it is must see for the visitors, while they are in Saigon.
Vietnam History Museum is an excellent piece of architecture. It is mostly covered with pre-war period.
It is home to many museums – Women’s Museum, Ho Chi Minh City Museum, Vietnam History Museum, Fine Arts Museum, War Remnants Museum and many more. We feel every corner, everything carries some history.
Being an Indian, I know street foods are known for its flavours. We experienced bursting flavours of Vietnamese food. You won’t be hungry; vendors are selling special dishes in every corner of the Ho Chi Minh City.
Banh Mi – Vietnamese sandwich, this French Asian fusion sandwich is one of the nation’s favourite snacks. A baguette made with a mixture of wheat and rice flour and packed with cuts of roast pork, pickles, rice, fresh chilli, and coriander.
Bun Mam – a fermented fish soup, it is one of Vietnam’s superior noodle dishes few chunks of crispy pork belly, squid slices, prawns, raw vegetables, herbs noodles everything wrapped in fermented fish broth.
Goi Cuon – fresh spring rolls. Fine and simple Vietnamese fresh spring rolls. Pork, prawns, noodles everything wrapped in soft rice paper and rolled the M like a cigar shape. We need to serve these with peanut sauce. Being a vegetarian, I never had any problem over there. Their Tofu is one of the best I have ever experienced.
It is hugely influenced by Chinese culture in terms of politics, government, art, social, and moral ethics. The Viet government employs a number of symbols to represent their own nation. Respect for parents and ancestors are a key virtue. Vietnamese believe that by burning incense their ancestors could protect their family from any kinds of harm. The French introduced western values like individual freedom and sexual quality, which really challenged the traditional Vietnamese values. South Vietnam also adopted western values in every aspect. In urban areas, western patterns of social behaviour are increasingly common. However, in the rural/countryside, traditional family values remained strong. Adopting western trend values still, continue in South Vietnam after the partition of the country in 1954. Many young stars are into sexual freedom, movies, lifestyle; rock music from western cultures became famous. Whereas as in the North, social ethics were strongly dominated by Vietnam Communist Party’s principles.
In 1980, Viet government economic policy, according to that, they are into free market principles and encourage foreign investment and tourism development. Hence Vietnamese are constantly influenced by the lifestyles of developed countries.
The market is definitely one of the cooler markets I’ve been to. I can also ad is one of the most shoppers friendly. One evening we decided to eat street food, and locals and hotel employees suggested about this market, I also googled and got good feedbacks about the market.
The market was pretty good like a local market. You will find lots of stuff to attract tourists. It is also flooded with handicrafts, clothing, you just name it. Food is one of the very interesting parts of the market. Both son and dad had roast pork they really loved it, which I can make it out from their faces. One very interesting thing I observed, their locals are very friendly and not at all aggressive.
Cu Chi Tunnels
We decided to visit and experienced the unforgettable tunnels. The clinging Vietnamese dug immense underground tunnels to support their own fight for independence from their enemies. However, it was a coincidence that several decades later, the tunnels played a major role in the North Vietnamese defeat of the American-South Vietnamese alliance. Getting into those tunnels as a tourist is a hypnagogic experience. Even though those at Cu Chi have been widened enough for tourists like us, but I still felt claustrophobic/dizzy after a few minutes of a crawl. I can’t even imagine living for a moment, but Viet Cong stayed there in the dark for months after months at a time! But it was an enlightening to learn about the war from another perspective. A lifetime experience, which will be always there in my memory.
©Sarika Sarkar Das
Photos by the author
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A teacher, day dreamer, random experimental cook and some hit and miss photography, and at last love to call myself a full time mother.