She was barely a child of nine. Stripped down to nothingness. Not a thread on her. She ran down the length of the road, accompanied by four more children and a group of fully loaded army men. The smoke from the distant firing still hung low and heavy. Their fear was palpable. The agony of the little girls’ pain and loss was evident on her contorted face, captured forever in the silent scream of sheer terror. The Pulitzer award-winning photography of Vietnam’s the “Napalm Girl” makes it’s every viewers gasp even now.
But today Vietnam has risen from its ashes and proven to be a phoenix country. Ho Chi Minh, the country’s most populous city, formerly known as Saigon will take your breath away at first sight. With its endless stream of daily life, flowing harmoniously, you cannot help but fall head over heels in love with her in a matter of a heartbeat. It is a treasure trove for every traveler. With its rich culture, the city is an adventure in itself.
One man who needs mentioning from this place is the namesake of the city, Ho Chi Minh, lovingly called Uncle Ho. I will never forget the expression on Kim’s (my tour guide) face when I produced a picture of their beloved Uncle Ho from the Facebook archive of one of my closest family members. Her excitement was a sheer pleasure. A visit to his Stilt House and mausoleum and will humble your soul.
Being a tropical city you will mostly find yourself discovering the city under a balmy climate. Traces of which lingers till late evening. A tour around the city will take you to the five most important buildings, the Notre Dame Cathedral, Independence Palace, Central Post Office, Vietnam Parliament and Benhn Thanh Market. Leaving early to venture around is always advisable for tourists to cover most of the city.
Another must visit for tourists is the War Remnant Museum. The horror of the bygone days still hangs at the periphery of the mind of the residents and the Museum is a standing evidence of it. Emotions are bound to run high in the hearts of its visitor, be it local or foreigner. Every room although modern has a sombre story of the war to tell. Every artifact speaks of absence and sadness.
Despite all the blood and tear of lives lost in vain, the country is reborn. The pungent smell of the bombs has long dissipated. The ominous smoke from the constant gunfire has long ceased. The ravages of the war have scarred the country forever. Yet she refuses to give up and is determined to live on. And indeed she is living, throbbing and pulsating not only in the hearts of her own people but the entire humanity of the world.