I have been very busy lately.
I have joined the Bangkok Museum volunteer group.
I am going to push a hospital bed, on 8th October with at least 10 other Canadians, around the Streets of Bangkok in the hopes of raising some money for an Aids centre for orphans. Their will be at least 49 other beds all dressed up, ours will have a moose on it!!!! Should be interesting!
We went to the “Bangkok Guide” book launch last Sat night, it was in the Authors lounge of the Oriental Hotel (very exclusive hotel) The BG is the expats Bible here in Bangkok and is produced about every 2 years by the New Zealand and Australian women’s groups. They do a wonderful job and manage to get it all paid for by advertisers so the money made from the sale goes straight to charity. The launch was good, a cocktail party and a good time was had by all. Lots of people there I knew, must mean I am getting to know the expat community!
Last Sunday we went to Thai Wedding Reception. It was a lovely meal, Chinese style, with lots of prawns and crab (I couldn’t eat). They had some girls doing Thai Dancing which was quite interesting. Lars, our Swedish friend made a speech which was good, he did it in English.
We seem to have missed Salsa the last 2 weeks but I am learning Mah Jong, it is good, we have had 3 lessons now and I hope to continue it at the British club after the lessons end next week.
Our last day in Sai Gon we went sight seeing around the town, we went to the main post office which is a beautiful French Colonial building in the middle by Notre Dame Cathedral (we later went to mass there). It was open for business so we where able to explore its beautiful marble floored interior. It had wonderful paintings on the ceiling and of course huge pictures of Uncle Ho everywhere. After that we went to see the American Embassy or consulate as it is now but their is nothing to see only a very high wall, it is in use again and all traces of 1975 are gone. We found the Ben Than Market and got some souvenirs including a beautifully embroidered table cloth. Viet Nam is famous for its embroidery at very reasonable prices.
After some discussion and at first a refusal, we finally decided to visit the “War remnant’s Museum in HCMC. It has a lot of rusting bombs and other weapons from the “American” war but it also has a lot of photographs taken by international press photographers. All disturbing, showing how this war was one of the first to be followed daily by the press.
This war was going on in the background all the time I was growing up but I didn’t really take a lot of notice of it, I remember the picture of Kim the 9 year old Vietnamese girl running down the road naked with her arms outstretched and I also remember the Son My (My Lai) massacre or at least some of the photos from it that were published in the newspapers in Britain at the time of its revelation. At the museum I was able to explore more of these incidents and since my return have been immersed in the My Lai Massacre.
How and why it happened is easy to see but hard to know how a war like that could go on without such atrocities, as one of the things instilled in the troops was the “Gooks” are all enemies and cannot be trusted.
In fact the rural Vietnamese just wanted a peaceful life in which to be able to farm and feed themelves and their families, but they were caught between a rock and a hard place.
Details of Agent Orange and other defoliants (chemical weapons!) are also in the museum including dead babies preserved in liquid showing horrendous birth defects, some have two heads, some no brains, some eyes in their bellies. These children died at birth. The effects are still going on, lots of Vietnamese have no bones in there legs, huge tumors growing on their faces (like the Elephant Man) misshaped spines. This is the third generation after the war and still areas of the land are badly contaminated and the poor farmers are farming it because they have not choice.
Their are lawcases ongoing about Agent Orange both in Vietnam and Canada where it was first tested on humans!!
Yes, I am very glad we went to this museum it opened my eyes to this war of my youth and I am now looking into it, Cambodia and Laos where also involved and Laos holds the dubious record of having the most bombs dropped on it in the history of any war to date!