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Humanity, wisdom and boldness

posted 26 Nov 2012, 04:35 by Sandra Kirby
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My first full day in Ho Chi Minh.  Nana would say "I've walked my feet down to the ankles". Certainly my feet are complaining   - but despite the heat I've survived quite well. 

I've learned a lot about myself on the last two trips, my vulnerabilities and new and old fears/phobias.  It has come as a pleasant surprise that heights are not the worst thing that can happen.  I even found myself looking out of a plane window . . But the real surprise was choosing to go up to the Saigon Sky Deck and get close enough to the windows to take photos.  The spirit of Tony was with me.

However I now know that my shopping phobia is worse than the height one.  Went into the Ben Thanh market, largest market in Ho Chi Minh, lasted 10 mins before the nausea and panic overtook me.  It is a huge market - for people who have been to Melbourne think QVM on bigger scale with stalls crammed in very tightly.  As I walked past stalls my arm would be grabbed "Madam you want (insert item here)" Madam found she wanted nothing at all.  

I had been feeling v proud of my navigating and walking but my self guided tourist time was foiled by the fact that all Vietnamese attractions close for between 1-3 hours over the middle of the day.  So got to Reunification Palace at 10:59 to find it is closed between 11-1; walked to War Remnants Museum but it also closed, walked to Notre Dame Cathedral but it was also closed.  Sat in a park for an hour and then walked back to Palace then Museum.  

One of the things that has struck me is that the Vietnamese have an even stronger sense of the buildings spirit than us, even more than Feng Sue. The Palace, which was rebuilt in 1962 is built to symbolise a good future.  The central lines of the building represent the character Tam symbolising the 3 aspects of democracy - humanity, wisdom, boldness.  Not a bad aim - do you think they are the tenets of Western democracy? 

The Palace was interesting, the War Remnants Museum was gruelling.  The blurb about museum says it intends to call the public to say no to war and yes to peace.
I found myself feeling very depressed.  As a world we appear incapable of getting this message.  As I and hundreds of others were visiting this memorial to the futility and trauma of war there are atrocities being committed in Gaza/Israel and Afghanistan as well as other places. What will it take for a peace message  to actually be taken to heart - humanity, wisdom and boldness perhaps?

Around sunset I set off to Saigon Sky Deck - the tower is built to resemble a lotus flower, Vietnam's national flower.
and then went off to find some dinner.  Tempting though it was to go back to my Pho shop from last night I ventured further and went into a more upmarket place - splurged a bit as I hadn't eaten since breakfast but my largish meal and drink cost $NZ10 including a tip.
Moral eating in Vietnam is cheaper and more predictable than getting a visa.

Tomorrow I have booked for a day tour to Mekong Delta, it is an indulgence.  

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