Day 2 – Ho Chi Minh City
Today, I had decided to visit the War Remnants museum. This was very close to the Independence Palace and the cathedral and post office, and was pretty easy to find. In Vietnam, museums often close at lunchtime, and this was no exception. However, I arrived in good time, and wandered around. It was quite busy with many foreigners visiting. There were a few military vehicles outside, with most of exhibitions and information inside.
The museum told the story of the Vietnam War from the Vietnamese point of view. I expected this, but I thought their section on war reporters and photographers was particularly interesting. They detailed some key reporters and photographers who had been active during the war – many of whom also died in the war – and they included biographical information and some photographs about them. I had heard of a couple, but most, like much of the details of the war, I did not know about.
One of the more emotional elements was the information about Agent Orange, and its effect on both the environment and also on people, including a letter written to President Obama by a young woman who has been affected by Agent Orange.
Lunch was had at the restaurant I went to yesterday, across from the Independence Museum. The afternoon would involve the city’s art gallery. This was a little difficult to get to, right at the far end of the long road from which I was staying. The gallery itself, however, was moderately interesting. I’m not really an art connoisseur, but it killed a bit of time. Some of the pictures were impressive – colourful and pretty shapes. Of all the galleries I’ve been in (not many), this was probably the one that had the least restrictions. There was no one sat in the room telling you that you were stood too close to a painting. And you could take photographs of the works. It was divided between modern Vietnamese artists (pictures from the last couple of decades), then twentieth century ones, and then before, I think.
The gallery was in another yellow building, which was probably a former colonial office of some sort. There were a couple of adjacent buildings which housed special collections. The gallery was actually like a TARDIS inside; it included more than you may have thought, by looking at it from the outside. Other than the posters on the railings in front of the gallery, it did not give off the impression that this was, in fact, an art gallery itself (below are just a selection of the pictures and art work in the gallery).
Following this, I went and sat in the park for a little while, before going back to my hotel room, showering and going out for food. I had discovered a food court nearby my hotel and so I went there and had a very nice meal. After this, I went and watched the locals playing badminton and football in the park (which was in the middle of two busy roads), before heading back, once again to my hotel room.