Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Good Morning Vietnam

From the temples of Siem Reap we traveled to the capital of Cambodia which is Phnom Penh.  There we visited the national museum which was an open air museum with many pieces of artwork from the history of Cambodia.  Then we went on to the National Palace where the Prince of Cambodia lives.  It was very very pretty and amazing.  There were a ton of Buddhist monks there that I thought were giving Jen and I the “eye” where we were inside the Palace some motioned to us what I thought was can I take their picture, but what it turns out is they wanted to take a picture with us!!  I guess all Buddhist boys are expected to join the monkdom for three months and these were teenagers from small towns in for their monkdom and aren’t used to seeing Westerners!!

In Phnom Penh they have a mode of transportation called a cyclo which looks like a baby carriage with a bike on the back that they use as taxi service.  We watched a movie about the reign of the Khemer Rouge and the genocide that happened in Cambodia in the late 70s.  The poverty is very very bad in Camodia and there are street children everywhere selling water, books or food.  People live in housing on the first floor which look like storefronts but they have no indoor plumbing. 

We then took a bus from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly known as Saigon).  The transformation over the border was amazing.  Vietnam appears to be a much richer country with their poor hidden very well. We spent two nights there.  We saw the former capital which was built in the 60s so you can picture the architecture!  They talked about the Vietnam conflict called by them the war with America.  They displayed the “fall of Saigon” which they call the freedom of south Vietnam.  We then went to the war museum which probably was the most depressing thing I have seen.  It was way worse than Auswitz because the entire time you feel an incredible sense of guilt for being an American.  At the end they had a book for people to write their thoughts and there was some deeply emotional reflections and people’s reactions were angry. 

We then moved onto Mui Ne a beach town 4 hours north of HCMC.  It is the most peaceful place I have been.  We are staying in a beachfront bungalow that is beautiful for $25.  I took a two day kite surfing lesson and let’s say it is a lot harder than it looks!!  I’ve seen three jellyfish the size of a school desk it’s crazy!! Tomorrow we are on to Dalat which is a French village in the hills!!

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