We just got back from Vietnam last week! My skin is itching from the sunburn and the freckles have come back to my face. I’m exhausted because, despite my best efforts, it’s still impossible for me to sleep on airplanes. And yet, Vietnam was beautiful, and raw, and eye-opening in ways I hadn’t expected.
We spent two days in Ho Chi Minh City and two days in Vung Tau, a beach resort about an hour and a half away by a hydrofoil boat. In what is now becoming our usual way to travel, D and I barely made it on the plane to Vietnam, sprinting to the gate to make it just four minutes before it closed for boarding. We hadn’t counted on holiday travel being just as bad in China as it would be in the States, and the clerks at the China Southern check-in desk having no idea how to handle Americans going to the country with or without a visa. Bu the time we got to the passport control line right, boarding for the plane had begun and by some stroke of dumb luck, we still made it on our flight.
Ho Chi Minh City is loud, warm, striking, and to some degree, still reeling from the effects of the Vietnam war. We dropped our bags off at the hotel, had lunch at a small cafe (our first meal of pho and vietnamese crab cakes with noodles and basil leaves), and went to the Vietnam War Memorial Museum.
To be honest, all I know about the Vietnam war came from reading Slaughterhouse-Five, and I never took the time to learn more about the scars of the war on either Vietnam of the U.S. The museum was difficult, painful and numbing at the same time. I am glad to have gone through the experience of seeing the graphic photographs on display, because I believe they are something that needs to be seen, but I don’t know if this is something I stomach more than a single time.
I love days at the beach so much more, because I grew up in New England, and going to the beach meant driving for several hours to a rocky terrain to dip your toes into the frigid water and head back to the beach towel to put on a summer sweater (no chance of sunburn though!) I’m still amazed by the warm water and the oppressiveness of the sun in warm places.