Follow my Existential Exile. . .

Sunday, July 4, 2010

i see vietnamese people

I'm realizing that there haven't been a significant number of Black folks living in Vietnam since the Vietnam War. So I decided to travel back in to time. . . To the museum that is.

The War Remnants Museum is rated number 1 on Lonely Planet's "top picks" for Ho Chi Minh City. Though my main purpose for going was to educate myself on the travesty, I secretly hoped to see some Black people touring the city, and seeing the sights like myself. Upon arrival to the museum via my xe om driver, I saw many tourist emptying tour buses, and carrying back packs. Indian, Australian, Filipino, Korean, Taiwanese perhaps. . . Nope, no Black people. Well, maybe next time. . . .

When you enter the museum grounds you are surrounded by old military tanks and planes. Go back a little father and you'll see some heavy artillery guns as well. But of course to lighten the mood there is an old Vietnamese lady selling cafe sua da right next to the M.41. Inside, three floors exhibit grotesque effects of agent orange, destruction across the tropical lands and villages and bloodied artifacts to let you know this really happened. At the end, on the top floor, images of hopelessness are rounded off with the before and after photos of the new Ho Chi Minh City reviving itself.  

Having know idea how many people the Vietnam War actually affected, I had a new friend put it in perspective. Mr. Thao is the secretary general for The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahai's of Vietnam. I decided to stop by Mr. Thao's house after my museum visit, since I was out and about. After the heavy rain storm, the streets in District 3 were flooded. But we got to Mr. Thao's house which sits above his wife's beauty salon. He invites me into his parlor/living room area, and we have a Coke with ice. Seeing as how I am not Baha'i but only know a few facts from my friends in Chicago, I start asking Mr. Thao about the Baha'is in Vietnam, how they are treated, and what type of activities they have for the community. I then asked if there was a house of worship in Asia. He stated that they have the Lotus Temple in India, yes I completely forgot. "However," Mr. Thao mentions, "they were suppose to build the Asia house of worship here in Vietnam. But with the war and fighting going on, it was postponed, and India was chosen instead." Straight from the horses mouth, wow. "In fact, after the war, since the government won, they took control of many religious properties, including a building the Vietnam Baha'is were using as a meeting place and several Christian churches." After my visit to the museum, Mr. Thao's story has much relevance. This was a perfect ending to my much needed lesson on the history of this IndoChina culture.


  1. Thank you for writing about the Baha'is of Vietnam. I am following your blog to read new articles about Baha'is in other countries.

  2. Get ready for another trip because that is one of the places I wanted to go. I got my passport back today complete with Vietnam Visa! they also sent me a travel book so check your facebook inbox......see you in the text!