During my brief stay in Ho Chi Minh City (often still referred to as Saigon), I was able to get a quick history lesson on the Vietnam (read: American) war.
My first stop was Cu Chi just outside the city where a complex tunnel system stretching over 200km was built to hide and protect the Vietnamese from American attacks. Visitors are able to go inside some of the extremely cramped tunnels where at times you have to squat or shimmy to get through. I kept thinking that I would never have been able to survive for days in those tunnels let alone years. On display was also many types of traps and weaponry including a shooting range. The guns going off in the background made the experience all too real.
Back in Saigon I took some time to explore the War Remnants Museum, which was very interesting. Outside were numerous tanks, planes, and helicopters from the war and inside were many photographs. The displays were heartbreaking as many images depicted the horrific effects of chemical warfare, mainly Agent Orange. The disfigurements, burns, and deformities still surface decades later and in so many innocent children. More civilians than soldiers died during the war making it so incredibly hard to understand how these tragedies happened and continue to happen in many parts of the world. I left feeling somber but also with respect for the resilience of the Vietnamese people who continue to rebuild their country to this day.