Like most of the trips that Ms. Buddha and I go on, we tend to like to visit the museums because it reveals a lot about the history of the city/country and even more about how the government wants itself to be perceived (like the highly recommened National Museum of Cambodia – Roam Experience – Photo Gallery). One of the key museums in Ho Chi Minh City is the War Remnants Museum.
From the outside – the building looks oddly modern – although when you get closer, you can see that the construction quality is a little poor.
The museum is split into several parts, the outdoor courtyard area holds all the military equipment used during the Vietnam war. The machines themselves are actually quite intimidating given their size – and to a certain extent – looks like oversize boy’s toys.
Although given the immense heat – the war machines are now just really nice shelter!
Next to the main building is an area where they displayed the prisoner of war and their lives – be forewarned that given the fact that Vietnam still operates under a Communist regime – the language and depictions are quite bias. There’s no denial that some locals were treated very poorly during the war (and some tortured) – but the language used were a little strong in my opinion.
While viewing the outdoor exhibit, the weather decided to have a mind of its own and started properly bucketing down – so we sort refuge in the main building. The ground floor splits the exhibits into the “peace” messages and support propaganda globally against the US attacking the communist regime during the 20 years of war.
The 2nd floor and above touches more on the “global” perception of the Vietnam War – including a dedication to all the photo journalist that witnessed the war and the damage it did to the population. Whilst I do think the details were bias – it still does not change the fact that the real casualty of war is often the civilians.
Several odd things happened when we were there – there was a local amateur “journalist” constantly going around interviewing anyone who speaks English who were willing to agree with the fact that everything the US did was wrong.
The other odd, but in my opinion appropriate incident was in the Agent Orange section where it showed photos of the deformities caused by the chemical weapons used during the war – a group of young tourists were speaking at the top of their lungs and laughing at some of the photos (generally being disrespectful) – it was pleasant to see that the staff told them off.
Overall, the museum was very interesting and even though in my opinion there was a little bit too much propaganda for my own liking, the fact that the war happened and civilians were hurt in the process did not change.