Friday, January 18, 2008

Ho Chi Minh City/ Saigon, Vietnam

We hooked up with our friends Tim & Michelle in Saigon. We met Tim and Michelle years ago in Hvar, Croatia, we got on really well and had kept in touch. They both lived and worked in Kyrgyzstan, for a while and we had hoped to meet them there, even planning a film project, but this was cancelled due to the Tulip Revolution. Tim and Michelle are now living here in Vietnam and have a beautiful daughter Amelia.

We stayed with them in their huge snazzy house, on the edge of Saigon. It was beautiful place on a sprawling new luxury estate. But they said it was a bit isolated, with little community spirit, they were moving next week to an older house in a friendlier neighbourhood.

Michelle recommended we take our camera to ‘The Camera Doctor’, it was playing up again, this time it was the mirror. Jamie and I headed there. The ‘Doctor’ was great. “If you’re not in a rush, I can have it fixed in about an hour” he said. He done a great job and only charged a couple of pounds! We then headed to some Museums the girls went shopping and to visit a temple.

The War Museum was intensely shocking and heart breaking. I’ve seen many images of the American War, as it is called here, but not as graphic as the images on show here. The most disgusting and disturbing of the photos were those taken by American Soldiers themselves, as souvenirs. There are photos of soldiers posing with decapitated heads of Vietnamese people, the soldiers pose as if it’s a football team photo, they smile as if it’s a game.

Other images on display had a shocking resemblance to the images we see coming out of Abu Ghraib, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan. The similarities between the conflicts are too much to bare.

As John Pilger writes, "It was a lie from the beginning, throughout the war, and even today." When US troops landed in Vietnam in 1965, they believed their cause to be a noble one, but it was a sham.

In another article, 'Torture is news but it's not new', he recalls how American atrocities and torture were not considered newsworthy.

John Pilger is perhaps one of the greatest investigative journalists, click here to read more of his articles from Vietnam.

That night we met Tim and headed to a fantastic Restaurant, in an old French Colonial building near Reunification Palace. The next night we had dinner at Tim & Michelle’s before hitting HCMC / Saigon, hard, on a pub n club crawl from the latest trendy Vietnamese hotspot to backpacker/ expat favourites - including 'Apocalypse Now', to local dives. It was a great night, from what we can remember.


John Pilger articles on Vietnam

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