wanderingsonearth

Wandering around the globe

SiaGon

Ho Chi Minh City, the former Siagon. A city that was the center of the Vietnam War. American men went there to fight off the “Communist forces of Ho Chi Minh”. They went to defend “democracy” and ward off evil. It is a city that was decimated from the self-righteous entity that we call our government. As I arrived I imagined a posh, cute Southeast Asian City due the history that surrounds this economic hub, only to find out that Siagon is a ugly, flattened, concrete jungle. It literally looks as though the war ended yesterday and they are still trying to rebuild. There are so many slabs of concrete on every street that it is difficult to take a beautiful photograph of this historic city. It appears there are a few sites that have withstood time and a violent war, but even these buildings are limited. 

Image

(a younger version of myself @ 19 in HoChiMinh)

Image

(Another surviving piece of Vietnamese/French history)

However, the worst daunting legacy of the Vietnam War is the defects caused from Agent Orange. To this day 5 our of 100 children in Vietnam are born with defects caused by the chemicals dropped by American forces. Aside from these deformities, there are several others who lost limbs due to unexploded bombs in the country.  So as an American as I walked through the streets of Saigon or Ho Chi Minh and saw someone with a physical disability, I knew it was sadly a repercussion of the war my country waged upon theirs. 

If you’re brave enough to visit the War Memorial Museum, you can see the horrible atrocities committed by our troops in the region. As I walked through the museum and saw photos, artifacts, and other horrific reminders of our governments work, I began to feel emotional and small. I was visiting a country that my own government destroyed and did very little to rebuild. As I thought of all the things we should have done after the Vietnam War, I began to think of current day Afghanistan or Iraq. 

Our argument for going to Viet-Nam was to defend American freedom and make the world safe from “communist”. Our goal for Afghanistan and Iraq is quite similar. Today in Vietnam the ruling party is the one that defeated American troops. Is it a dangerous country? No. Is the world less safe because Vietnam is a communist country? Hell no. Is Iraq going to be safer after Saddam? Probably not. Will another dictator come into power? Probably. Is Afghanistan going to be safer now that the Taliban and al-Qaeda are gone? Yes. Will these rebel groups run to another country? Yes. Will we fight them there? That is a question yet unanswered. 

The whole moral is we should not be so self-righteous as to think that by waging war on another country we are making the world “safe”. We are only destroying the world and causing pain in another land for generations to come. The Vietnam War lives on for so many Vietnamese because they are still suffering the side effects of the American invasion into their sovereign country. 

SO think before you elect an official who wants to wage war. If you have money to visit a country where American fought a war, then GO! See for yourself what a war torn country looks like!

Image

(Graphic and horrible quality, im sorry)

Image

 

Advertisements

The people you meet

Image

An artist. A programmer. An x-marketing executive. A piano player for the Ritz in Bangkok. We all were running.

Phillipo was running from the rich Italian family that expected him to keep a conventional job. Max was running from the cold weather and people of Moscow. Florenso was running was the society that kept her enslaved for the past ten years. Henry has been running since he was 18. And I was running from fears, love, and life. 

When you meet people on the road, you have no strings attached. You don’t have a past and definitely don’t have a future together, but usually our similarities allow us to form a in the moment friendship.  In most circumstances, the bond formed between fellow travelers is one that is stronger than ties with people  you have known your whole life. Since you have no pretense or connections with them you can open up about life, history, and problems. You discuss your fears, what you’re running from, and whats waiting back home. 

The two weeks in Langkawi we spent together were stagnant and rather mundane, but every night at dusk we had an unspoken ritual to eat dinner together. Max worked through the day. Phillipo drew. Henry made music. While Flo and I sat and walked to find our souls somewhere in the clouds. The days were long, while the nights were short. 

We always began with a meal on the beach. Spirits flowed and conversation flourished. Phillip always asked bizarre questions like “What does your home look like?” As you’d say the routine “Two story, cabin, on the lake” He’d interrupt and say “No, no, no what is the inside what colors, what smells, what are the small character details that make it YOUR HOME.”  Through these small conversations we slowly began to piece together the lives of our new friend. I knew that Max lived in a small Moscow apartment that was filled with Marxist books, because his parents were the poster couple for the former USSR. I knew that Henry had his own organic heating system in the hills of France that filled his lush home. These small details brought my new friends to life. It gave them a background story.

On other nights, we would sit and look at the stars for hours. It appeared that Max knew every star in the orbit and was happy to tell us all about the space system. Phillipo was always trying to find the milky way. Flo was usually already half asleep and I just sat listening. At moments like this it seemed surreal that I was a world away from my family, laying on a beach, with friends from all over the world. At that  moment, they were my family, my friends, and my partners. For people who dont travel frequently it is hard to imagine such a deep connection with strangers, but a connection with a stranger is usually the deepest one.Image