Sunday, August 22, 2010

Vietnam...Those who survived and those who didn't.

As I moved from one exhibit to another in the quietness of the War Museum, it suddenly dawned on me that I had no need to go in search of any historical battle sites.
I was already standing on the battle ground. The whole of Vietnam was engulfed in the War and Saigon itself was in the thick of all the action.

In this section, nearby to me was a Vietnamese man, a loving father, pointing to the same exhibits and explaining the situation to his 2 young kids. I noticed their mother was not with them. The kids took it all in without displaying much emotion which is perfectly understandable considering that they are only around 10 years old.

This is one of the most recent exhibits. It shows the discovery in 2008 December of mass graves

of prisoners who were tortured and killed during the war.
Their remains were extracted and given a proper ceremonial martyr's burial with honours.

Not everyone perished. There were those lucky enough to survive

the infamous prison system and they had harrowing tales to tell the world.
To the Vietnamese...these are their heroes.

Some of the lucky survivors and today regarded as heroes, giving
their testimonies about the inhuman torture they were subjected special commemoration meetings a year ago.


peter said...

In 1985 I eneterd Vietnam via Bangkok bcos there was no direct flight. I had the opportunity to visit Vungtua, a naval base which was run by the Russian Navy and an off-shore petroleum base. My Vietnamese guide took me to the home of VC ("Vietcong). There I saw an altar of her deceased husband, his picture on the wall and his helmet with bullet holes. There were also medal awarded for bravery fighting in the Mekong Delta area against the U.S. Marines. According to this woman, the U.S. Marines never camped in the Mekong Delta area for fear of the VCs. Each mroning the U.S. Marines arrived by landing craft, hunted the VCs and by 6pm, they returned to their ships. When the U.S. Marines showed up, the VCs went underwater using the reeds to breathe.

This Vietnamese woman also showed me graves of Vietnamese shot dead by the U.S. Marines bcos the Yankee soldier thought any Vietnamese dressed in black "had to be a VC".

Then of course the lighter side of my trip when I learnt more about Caodaism, a religion which took in Mohad, Jesus, Guru Nanak, etc as their "Gods". I was told the woman worshippers of that religion had to strip themselves naked for the "priest enjoyment" as part of the conversion process. There was also drinking Vietnamese coffee, eating their rice paper popiah - which had huge chunks of tiger prwans.

I did nt just stay in the south but went up to Hanoi for business. Of course there was this US$5 a dance with the Vietnamese girls (possibly <24 years of age) at the Heritage Hotel (owned by a Singaporean). The hotel I stayed was Rose Hotel near that big lake or lovers lake you mentioned.

unk Dicko said...

Thanks for enlightening us about things in 1985.
In the war in the Mekong Delta region and elsewhere, both sides, as in almost all wars, had victories and also defeats.