Eastern medicine has centuries of history, thousands of cures, and millions of believers… but not much respect in the western world. We visited the FITA Traditional Medicine Museum in Saigon, to learn a little about the history of Vietnamese healing.
Having one of those pesky “Good Mood” days? Good moods are the worst, right? So pointless! Let’s face it, your fellow humans are awful and the world is screwed. To be reminded of that, head over to the War Remnants Museum. If you’re still in a good mood after visiting this place, you have some serious issues.
Vietnam’s politicians and CEOs might be predominantly male, but take a walk down any street in Saigon, and you’ll learn who really runs the show. Women are in charge of every stall in the market. They’re the ones dishing out your delicious meals. They’re mending your clothes, chopping your fruit, brewing your coffee, and taking your money. Oh, how they love to take your money.
The art form most commonly associated with Vietnam is lacquer painting. While exploring District 3, we walked past the factory of a company called Tay Son, and were drawn like moths to its striking mosaic facade. When the security guy encouraged us to enter, we immediately accepted the invitation.
You’d never know it, looking at this completely normal house on Võ Văn Tần street in District 3… but I suppose that was the point. A trap door in the floor hides a secret basement, in which the Viet Cong stored guns, ammunition, and grenades.
With Phu Quoc’s beaches and easy-going lifestyle, it’d be easy to overlook the fact that the island hasn’t always been so peaceful. This was a major base of operations for the American and South Vietnamese armies, who maintained a POW camp here known as the Coconut Tree Prison.
The most stunning residence in Sadec is the former house of Huynh Thuy Le, made famous by Maugerite Duras’ semi-autobiographical novel, The Lover. Today, the house is open for tours, and also operates as a guesthouse. It’s impossible to imagine a more atmospheric place to stay while in Sadec, and we were unable to resist.
Water puppetry is an art form which has been entertaining Vietnamese audiences since the 11th century. The shows were originally performed in the country’s rice fields, but today are usually found in theaters. We went to Saigon’s most well-known venue, the Golden Dragon Theater, to check out one of the shows.
During the Vietnam War (fine: the “War of American Aggression”), the Viet Cong were hopelessly outmatched from a military standpoint. So, they had to level the playing field… or even better, dig tunnels and hide underneath the playing field. We went to Cu Chi to visit one of the most famous underground systems.
The city of Tay Ninh is probably known best as the birthplace of Caodaism, a modern religion which has millions of adherents in Vietnam and around the world. We were able to attend a bizarre and beautiful worship ceremony in Cao Dai’s Holy See, at the Great Divine Temple.