Sunday, August 4, 2013


         Sunday, 4/8/2013.  On a cloudy and warm morning we caught a taxi and asked to be taken to the Ho Chi Minh Museum which is across the river in District 4.  Our driver hung a U turn and headed toward the bridges into the City.  Once we crossed the rivers we cut through a business and residential area for a couple of miles --- the city scape is full of surprises, one moment you are on a narrow street with small shops and older residential apartments and then after a turn onto a boulevard you are confronted by skyscrapers, elegant new hotels and business blocks of banks, fancy stores etc and then back to a neighborhood thriving with working folks.  Soon we were down by the river, the driver took a right turn and in another block pulled over in front of the Museum.   We paid our cab fare, purchased the entrance fee to the museum, 10,000VND (about 50 cents USD) each and we started a most memorable hour and a half of museum enjoyment learning the history and work of one of the most memorable revolutionary leaders of the 20th Century.  The museum is full of amazing photos and copies of Ho's many writings both typed and handwritten.  The museum was full of Vietnamese tourists -- and us.  The Museum is located in an old harbor building -- supposedly like one of buildings Ho would have passed through when he shipped out as a sailor/merchant marine as a young man.  Ho Chi Minh was actually born in 1890 and lived to the fine age of 79 and lead along with many others the anti-colonial struggles of Vietnam who had to defeat the French who were assisted by the US as well as the Japanese who invaded Vietnam in their partnership with the AXIS powers, the NAZIS, the Italian Fascists and other fascists who joined in to help Germany in Eastern Europe, France and Spain.  For young folks, Japan was a militarist fascist regime under the leadership of Hirohito and their policies of annihilation of the Chinese, Indochinese, Koreans and others ranks right up there with the NAZIS' genocide of the Jews, Russians, homosexuals, and Evangelic Christians, and Gypsies (to name a few) --- the holocaust.  Uncle Ho or Grandfather Ho for the younger generations is the living spirit of the anti-colonial struggle of Vietnam for Independence, Freedom and Happiness. The anti-French revolutionary actions began in the mid to late 19th Century and the revolutionaries of the 20th Century carried the anti-colonial war to a successful conclusion though they paid a heavy price for their endeavor.

        Here is Leanna and a dancing, prancing young lady in front of the Museum and below are a few visitors at the front gate sign.  The man on the far right joined me in a thumbs up as I modeled my new souvenir hat.  As you tour the museum and read the history of the Vietnamese anti-colonial struggle against the French and in WW2 the war of resistance against the Japanese followed again by war against the French fascists/colonialists you begin to understand the inevitable outcome of the unification of the country with the defeat of the US in 1973 and the end of the war in 1975 when the Vietnamese completed the decolonization of their land.  As Americans who had to defeat the British in the War of Independence we should have never entered Vietnam --- it was their moment to end the colonial domination of their land and we should have honored their wishes.  


         Blog for 3/8/2103: Well Leanna and I just had a wonderful lunch at a medium sized neighborhood restaurant with "Hugh" a friend from the University whom we invited out to lunch. Hugh picked the place after we explained that we enjoy Vietnamese food but we also let him know that if he wanted something different that was fine with us too. We had thought that we might need to hail a cab but as it turned out the cafe was only about two and a half blocks from the front gate of the campus and like so many businesses here was an open front establishment where the atmosphere is the same as sitting outside except that you are shaded by the roof. Of course to get across the major boulevard in front of the campus we had to walk through the traffic of motor bikes, cars, buses and trucks and it was exciting. Though truth be told we are getting used to the thrill which diminishes it a bit. Basically, you just start walking across the lanes of traffic with your hand up facing the on coming traffic as though you know they will stop, which they probably won't. Soon you begin to hear some beep, beeps coming at you from the traffic heading toward you but you just keep walking and the traffic schools around you like fish in a tank skirting a rock or a seaweed plant. You have to keep the faith (in humanity) till you reach the other side and not do something unpredictable like stopping because then you force the riders and drivers to attempt to figure out what you are going to do next and this is not good.

Well, we reached the restaurant, got seated, and ordered lemonade for Leanna, a Pepsi for our guest and I tried a Saigon Blue Beer and then we checked the menu which was Greek to me. After a couple of minutes they brought us their English menu and soon we settled on a shrimp hotpot and a pork plate. Well friends, I must tell you that the food at this little neighborhood establishment was delicious. First the shrimp hotpot --- they brought out a large platter of prawns that were so fresh they were moving around on the platter. Then they brought out this burner that they put on the table in front of us and quickly put a kettle of spicy stock on to boil. When it was boiling good and strong the server put the prawns in to cook and after a few minutes she added lemon grass, scallion greens and dried ginger and let the pot continue cooking with the lid on. While it cooked the server brought out a plate of vermicelli rice noodles. When the hotpot was ready we put noodles in our bowls using our sticks to grab nice bunches of the vermicelli and move them. Then we ladled the soup over our noodles, picked out prawns with our sticks and added them to our bowls and then commenced to feast on our lunch. The prawns are eaten by tearing off the outer shell (if you're Leanna and me) and then savoring the meat --- dipping it in hot sauce if you like but it is scrumptious without and it is plenty spicy from being in the hotpot. Now the soup is mouthwatering, too, and truth be told the three of us could have been well satisfied with just the hotpot and the vermicelli, though we did get a second plate of noodles from our server. But, after a while we moved on to the pork plate and had more fine treats in store including slices of roast pork, then deep fried pork feet and savory vegetables to go with the meat. We were able to walk back to the campus with big grins lighting up our faces.

A day ago we shot a couple of pictures of our office and you will see them as part of this post. 
Here are Leanna and Vinh hard at work and below is, well it is what it is.
 Anyway, ours is a nice sized office, large actually for just three workers and their equipment.  We hear there may be another guest lecturer arriving from England to work in another department, so there's plenty of room!

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