Ho Chi Minh City: War Remnants Museum.

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“No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It was misreported then, and it is misremembered now” – Nixon. 

 

This quote stood out to me for a number of reasons. Firstly, being European and under thirty I don’t actually know a lot about the Vietnam war. Of course I’ve seen Apocalypse Now and Platoon but that’s all the information I’ve ever really learn’t.

Another reason for the quote is that I’ve read some of the information presented at the War Remnants Museum to be sensationalist, or overindulgent; to use phrases that sound nicer than propaganda. I’m no scholar on war history so I’ve no idea what is true…

Propaganda however, is one of the reasons I wanted to take a look.

I love propaganda art, so I was really happy to find a great ‘arts’ section, which was sadly lacking at the Military museum in Hanoi. Another area of the museum I loved – which conveniently links in with the aforementioned quote – was the focus on the photographers involved in reporting the war. It was interesting to learn about characters such as Larry Burrows, Henry Huet, Sam Castan and Dickey Chappelle, who was one of the first Female war correspondents. It seems like such a dangerously captivating profession, with fantastic photography and unfortunately an extremely high mortality rate.  All of the above, and many more featured died chasing photos.

 

Other disturbingly graphic and quite upsetting exhibits included photographic tours of the results of Agent Orange and Landmines. No holding back involved.

Aside from the dubious factual content,  it’s a good museum and it was cheap, 15’000 Dong (less than $1USD)  Also, I got to sit in a helicopter and pretend I was a pilot – childhood dream? Tick!

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Vietnamese street food : Chao ga (chicken congee)

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Chao is basically meat porridge, also referred to as congee. It’s a fairly thick broth of chicken (ga) stock and rice. The rice is cooked out so that the starch is released and creates a thickened soup, which is enriched with the chicken meat and stock. It’s topped with fresh herbs.

It’s traditionally a bit of a winter food which is often made when feeling a bit under the weather, a comfort food and like a lot of other countries a go-to chicken soup to cure sickness. The flavour can be adjusted to personal preference using the vinegars and spices on the table.

A side that is popular with congees and other soups, such as Phở – banh gio chao quay, or just quay. A fried doughnut-like breadstick popular all over South-East Asia and also known as Chinese crullers & youtiao. They are a crispy crunchy, if a bit greasy addition to a soup or congee.

Some useful phrases 

Sin chow – hello
Mot – one
Hai – two
Gam urn – thank you
Tra da – iced tea, a popular and cheap drink to accompany meals and usually available at hole in the wall restaurants

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