A Sobering War Museum and French Influence in Vietnam

We were really looking forward to being in Saigon as an opportunity to catch up with family ... Elaine Eastwood Poff and her husband Adam and their beautiful boy, Elliott! We eased into the day and walked the streets a bit before meeting them at the very cool Workshop Coffee. We loved meeting Adam and the wee boy and seeing Elaine again. They’ve been in the city for years, and have that knowing, well-traveled look about them. Elaine and Adam  -- It was wonderful to visit with you both, and hope to see you again soon. By the way, we also loved the pour-over coffee!

We got back to the hotel in time to meet Khõng, the guide we had arranged for.  It was otherworldly to tour the Reunification Palace and see where the different seated governments lived and worked. Then on to the War Remnants Museum, in which much most displays describe the ‘American War’ and house photos that seize your heart with the brutal reality of war. Of course, much was shown in a manner of propaganda, but at the same time -- we were welcomed at every turn throughout our visit with open arms, with no hint of caution. People in this city were keen to hear about “America”. Khõng finished the tour with a visit to the house once owned by Henry Cabot Lodge, Ambassador to South Vietnam for a portion of the war, which now serves as a home, gallery, and a salon for meaningful conversations.

We were so surprised to see the degree of French influence in architecture, food, etc. but we shouldn’t have been. Of course, Vietnam was once a colony of France and part of Indochine. (until 1954). Many buildings downtown were French colonial in their appearance, and the boulevards were wide, green, and full of crowds. We looked at such a scene from the rooftop of a restaurant and saw clearly where one of the last helicopters left from the top of the CIA building during the fall of Saigon. We learned a great deal with Khōng, and are grateful for his friendship.

Out for dinner then...to the Propaganda Bistro of course!

It was a very short, but fascinating visit to Vietnam.