Independence Palace / Reunification Palace

Disclaimer: I know very little about the Vietnam War.

I didn’t really do my research before I came here. In the course of hitting 8 or 9 countries, it was inevitable that I would slack on getting a good history on a few of them. But this outing made me want to gain some understanding and research the Vietnam War. From what I’ve learned so far, it seems extremely complicated.

First of all, there was a lot going on in Vietnam before the war, which is called “The War of American Aggression” here. And the video we watched at the end of the Independence Palace tour in Ho Chi Minh City gave me a whole new set of propaganda that did not at all match with the propaganda I was taught in school.  I know that the US didn’t win the war, and that some only admit that reluctantly, but I had no idea that (per the movie) the Vietnamese had such a glowing and complete victory over the “US Imperialists”. Or that all the POWs were released and went home when the US gave up in shame. I know that’s not right at all.

I’m sure I was not taught 100% truth about what happened, but that movie I watched was certainly not all truth, either.

It’s funny…when I first thought about coming here, I thought I might get a bad reception because the war was not that long ago, and we did invade and kill a large number of people, so I assumed there could be some difficulty in being an American tourist here. But, except for some cultural and opportunistic rudeness which might be worth a future post, people for the most part have been really friendly, and nice, and helpful. Well, the movie I watched at the Independence Palace would explain that nice, friendly attitude as belonging to a smug, dominant victor, laughingly tolerating the wide-eyed, insignificant American tourist, whose country foolishly invaded and then went home with their tales (sic) between their legs. But that doesn’t feel like truth, either.

I think that people tend to be kind to foreigners in spite of our respective governments, and that foreign policy is sometimes a hurdle that people get past to realize that we’re all just human beings, sometimes living at the mercy of our country’s policies and decisions. I’ve found that I feel well-treated when I travel, despite anyone’s feelings about what my government may be doing or may have done. It’s so good to be accepted just for being a person, and not have to worry about being held accountable for your government’s actions. This goes both ways, of course. There are many governmental policies around the world that I do not agree with, but I try not to hold that against ordinary citizens of those countries. It wouldn’t be fair, right?

The following photos are from the Palace- which was preserved in time and reminded me strongly of a Mad Men set. There are beautiful rooms and offices, and there are a large number of war rooms consisting of nothing more than an office chair and one of those old metal office desks with a rotary phone on top. I found the “recreation room” delightful- especially the wine barrel bar at the back. And here’s a link to their website.

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