Based on my hotel points situtaion, we made a hotel switch for our last night and ended up at the five star Hyatt. It was monumental enough that we took pictures because staying in a five star hotel is unlikely to ever happen again since I am now officially out of hotel points. Our morning swim yesterday had been so lovely, that we decided to take advantage of the gorgeous hotel pool once again.
Unfortunately, Ben’s stomach and his anti-malarial pills were not getting along really well and he didn’t even feel well enough to get in the water. He situated himself in the most posh lounge chair I’ve ever seen while I paddled around the pool a while before retreating to the shade before I got too sunburned.
Around noon, we packed up and headed out for our final day of sightseeing before we had to make it to the airport. Our only real plans were to make it to the War Remnant museum.
True to form, we skipped out on the taxi option and walked ourselves across town in the sticky heat, stopping a couple of times to pretend to shop for stuff (we actually managed to buy Ben a new belt!) and to eat some noodles for lunch. We got to what had to be a block or two from the museum but ultimately couldn’t find it. Gratefully, a street vendor came to our rescue, pointing us in the right direction, and letting us pose with his wares before we headed on our way.
Once we got close by, the crowd of people milling around let us know we had found it. We hadn’t expected such a huge turnout of international visitors to learn about what Vietnam calls the “War of American Aggression.”
The hours that followed provided a sequence of images and artifacts that ranged from sombering to horrifying. The devastation to Vietnam just a short 40 years ago was unthinkable. Equally hearbreaking were the images depicting the effects of Agent Orange that have trickled down into the children being born even today- a result of contaminated lakes and streams that remain an environmental disaster even after all these years.
Although I don’t think we needed another reminder, we walked around heavy from the knowledge that war is almost always a zero sum game leaving everyone involved with unspeakable loss, destruction, and heartbreak.
We struggled to wrap our minds around the fact that America was at war with this beautiful country within our parents lifetimes, and yet here we were, having spent our vacation being hospitably welcomed into one of the most beautiful, resilient, resourceful cultures we have ever encountered.