BACK IN NAM

As a young boy, I was fascinated with big planes, big tanks, guns and other cool stuff to do with the war. So naturally, our trip to the War Museum in Ho Chi Minh brought out the inner child in me. The small entry fee of 15,000 VND (Less than $1 AUD) was worth seeing the heavy machinery used by the US Army in the Vietnam War, and probably other wars too. Fascinated by the sheer size of these beasts and the artillery they were carrying, it was hard to image these things even becoming airborne. It was like a young boys dream seeing these things up close and personal, it really puts it into perspective that these things, although decommissioned now, were designed to kill and destroy. Having said all this, I’m going to put a recommendation forward to you; see these man made kill machines before seeing the rest of the exhibit.

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Being a girl the machines was far less enthralling for me however I felt an immediate sense of sympathy for the victims trying to out run or hide from these monsters, it seems laughable that anything or anyone could survive from these. The machines were designed to kill and destroy, a mission that appeared successful as we continued through the museum. The second part of the outside section brought on different emotions and left me with a sense of bone chilling heaviness that you can only feel when you visit real life prison and torture cells. With various torture tactics outlined and models of the tiger torture cages and the guillotine, it’s hard not to feel grim afterwords. Tourists walked around with astonished looks on their faces, heads being shook and tears in their eyes, perhaps a reaction to the sheer brutality or maybe the realization that it was only 40 odd years ago.

suffering of the Vietnamese people. The pictures however don’t lie and with so much protest back in the US and soldiers walking off duty, unable to continue on, it feels like the world shared the view that it was a war of brutality, barbarity and many unspoken atrocities. As with every war, there are two sides to the story, no one fighting is innocent however the war seemed so pointless to have so much blood shed, and not completing the objective of stamping out communism. Vietnam is strongly communist to this day and nearly 20 years of war seemed to only fuel their desire to be so. With such a toll of human life and the huge financial expense to the US there is no justification for why they got involved in the first place.

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The most heart wrenching feature of the museum was the after affects of the use of chemical agents such as orange (dioxin) and napalm, this seemed so very unnecessary and un-calculated and nothing short of genocide. The aftershock causing countless miscarriages and birth defects to both the Vietnamese and the international soldiers who came into contact with the substance, even to this day.

There’s not much else to be said, this is a must see place whilst visiting Ho Chi Minh, be warned it is both moving and chilling but with so many lives lost and such a huge impact of Vietnamese history it is a place that deserves your time and above anything, your respect.

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