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Day Three – Củ Chi

Posted on Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Dave!Originally named "Exhibition House for US and Puppet Crimes" but also known as "The US War Crimes Museum," a popular attraction documenting the Vietnam War from the perspective of the Vietnamese was renamed "War Remnants Museum" when trade relations were re-opened with the United States.

Overall, it's an interesting (albeit decidedly one-sided) look at the war that can get fairly graphic at times, but is entirely more effective because of it...

Vietnam War Remnants Museum

Displays are fairly straightforward and stark, but well-presented...

Remnants Museum Exhibits

Some of the exhibits are obvious propaganda, and leave out huge chunks of the story, but at least the museum isn't hiding their agenda. Unlike shit-bag organizations that claim to be "fair and balanced" yet are anything but, the War Remnants Museum doesn't lie about their intentions as you make your way through the exhibits...

Requiem - The photo collection of the US aggressive war in Japan

Other sections of the museum include such topics such as "Aggression War Crimes" and "Historic Truths," and are certainly open for debate, but one area of the museum draws conclusions that most anyone can agree with... Agent Orange was some heinous shit that ruined lives on both sides. It was chemical warfare on an epic scale that had both immediate and long-term affects on health and development that are still affecting people today...

Remnants Museum on Agent Orange

Seeing the horrific images and reading heart-wrenching stories about the tragedies of war is not easy, no matter which side is telling the story. Regardless of how you feel about the Vietnam War... whether it's America's stance of playing "World Police" and saving the planet from "communism"... or large segments of the Vietnamese population being forced to accept a government they did not want... or an entire class of peasants being decimated when they just wanted to be left alone... or wealthy corporations encouraging war so they could make money... or indigenous Degar/Montagnard minority persons being overrun because they didn't fit in with the Vietnam majority culturally... or the American CIA and the French battling it out using the Vietnamese people for the fight... or the involvement of Korea (North and South) and Australia to serve their own interests... or any number of factors that made this such a highly complicated and confusing conflict for everybody involved... I think everybody can agree that war sucks.

Which is why, despite my personal feelings and obvious bias, this museum (hence Vietnam's official position over what they went through) has my deepest sympathies.

At least they did until I got to the gift shop and saw this...

Remnants Museum American Dog Tag Souvenirs?

At first I thought that these dog-tag "souvenirs" were war trophies being sold, and I was absolutely horrified. But one of the guys in our tour group who actually served in Vietnam said that they were not real, as American dog-tags had different information on them. Even so, they are clearly meant to be American dog-tag replicas when they feature names like "Matthew Johnson" on them. And the fact that they've been aged and dirtied up to look like war trophies is almost as bad as selling the real thing. This is incredibly disrespectful and disgusting regardless of the circumstances, and I had a very different feeling leaving the museum after seeing this than I would have had I not seen them at all.

Though, to be fair, you could say the same thing about American museums selling Indian artifacts and replicas like they do, so I guess we're no better.

Anyway...

From the museum we took a bus north to the Củ Chi district, once again zipping through traffic with horn blaring...

Củ Chi Bus Drive

How we managed to reach our destination without an accident remains a mystery.

The area we visited is famous for the Củ Chi Underground Tunnels, which were used by the Viet Cong to very effectively infiltrate hostile territory and wreck havoc with their enemies. Now the tunnels are part of a sort of "outdoor museum" where you can learn about how they were made and used. Our tour guide gave a very effective demonstration of how everything works by popping in and out of the tunnels using secret doors that were invisible on the forest floor...

Củ Chi Tunnel Surprise

The tunnels themselves are small. Tiny. Impossibly miniscule. And looking at them makes you wonder how people managed to survive in such claustrophobic conditions. It also makes you respect the people who were so dedicated to their cause that they were willing to endure such conditions. Surprisingly, the tunnels for tourists have actually been ENLARGED so that we can fit into them. And they are still horrifically small. Three people in our group decided to give the first tunnel a try, and it was a bit nerve-wracking to get through even though it was a short distance...

Củ Chi Tunnel

The woman I followed above was smaller than I am. I am so tall that there was no way I could just hunch over and fit... oh no... I had to squat down and shuffle my way through. Not at all easy, but I made it...

I Escape from the Củ Chi Tunnel!

Turns out that trying to breath was the most difficult part of going through the tunnel... which is good, I suppose, since it takes your mind off of the crushing claustrophobia that you feel.

After looking at tunnels and learning about how the Viet Cong used tricks and traps to attack their enemies, we got to see a fashion show of Viet Cong jungle apparel...

Củ Chi Fashion Show

I don't know how Tim Gunn would feel about that little ensemble, but I think she is totally pulling it off!

And, with that fashion moment, my visit to Củ Chi came to an end, and we were off to the airport.

BUT NOT BEFORE IT WAS TIME TO COLLECT MY DISNEY PIN OF THE DAY!

And how in the hell is Disney going to turn a day filled with war and death into a fun-time activity for kids, you may ask? Well here you go...

D3 Disney Pin

Baloo the Bear and The Jungle Book makes any activity a fun one! Even after you've watched somebody explain how a pit filled with spikes can mean an agonizing death for somebody unfortunate enough to fall into one.

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Comments

  1. Poppy says:

    So nice to see you in a photo, even though it’s creepy!

  2. martymankins says:

    Nice to see the pic of you in the tunnel top entrance. Even with someone that doesn’t have claustrophobia, that would be very difficult to be in that position for any time.

  3. I remember an antique place in Wisconsin that had part of a Civil War tombstone for sale.

    Yeah….that got reported to the authorities.

    You would think in such a spiritual place they would try not to insult the “honored” dead.

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