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An Emotional Museum Visit

Monday, December 15, 2014

I visited the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum - and while the buildings were wonderful and the art interesting, there was a great deal of art from the period of the Vietnam War, or from artists who lived (or died) during that period of time.

So it was sad and depressing, despite being very interesting. Just emotional.

And just one piece of art showing the French influence:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ALIIDA 12/18/2014 6:21AM

    Your travels lead you to live life so much more intensely. I'm awed and find it hard to imagine. You're brave to put yourself through this kind of experience.

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CONFUSEDBIRD 12/17/2014 9:33AM

    Interesting to see the perspective from their side and see the US from a different angle. I always find it interesting going through places like that and watching schools of children go through completely obvious. We did that at the Holocaust Museum in DC. That place was so depressing and the kids going through were having a grand old time enjoying a day away from school completely missing the point of why they were there.

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GOANNA2 12/16/2014 6:58AM

    Thanks for sharing the blog and pictures. I can
understand how emotional it must have been.

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PHEBESS 12/15/2014 11:27PM

    I was walking down the street yesterday, and there's a very cute elderly woman who sits on the sidewalk selling something. I walked by, we nodded and smiled at each other as we always do, and she gave me a big thumbs up for some reason. I don't know if she sensed how I felt, or if she liked my clothes that day, or what - but it was just one of those special little cross-cultural interactions that I'll cherish. (She definitely was around during the war, she's that old. Richard thought maybe she just really likes Americans or Australians or whatever country she thought I was from.)

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ROCKYCPA 12/15/2014 11:09PM

    I can just imagine how emotional the museum would be. The paintings you took certainly show a different point of view from what I grew up hearing. Thanks so much for sharing!

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SYLPHINPROGRESS 12/15/2014 11:03PM

    There are such incongruities in some of the war-scene paintings -- the styles, colors and mood just don't match the subject matter. The jarring effect makes me think that such scenes were part of the course of unremarkable days.

Your photos of the children making art in the courtyard on the heels of those in the museum made me think of forest fires. Vast, old-growth forests are devastated, yet almost immediately, new growth begins to sprout among the charred remains. Forest fires are very different though, from children sprouting as new signs of life. If normal life and occupations can be reclaimed, why can't the devastation made by man be averted? The futility is incomprehensible. Is it futility?

An acquaintance who'd been in Vietnam for a short time (he came home early, having been wounded), went with a group of former military men last year. They spent two or three weeks touring, meeting with former Vietnamese/Viet Cong soldiers and volunteering in community projects. He said little more than the trip having been rewarding and healing. Having heard much more about his experience, his wife and two adult children will join the group next year.

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WATERMELLEN 12/15/2014 8:14PM

    The sadness of war indeed.

I too would find that a very difficult museum to visit -- a bit like going to a concentration camp in Germany I suppose.

Think of how much worse you might have felt had you not done everything within your power to protest the war, as a young teenager.

I'm glad you spent some time with the children painting.

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SEASONS_CHANGE_ 12/15/2014 4:39PM

    You are fortunate to have that experience and I'm sorry that you got rather emotional, I think it would effect anyone that way.

Safe travels!

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UMBILICAL 12/15/2014 11:58AM

  Oh My!

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Wow, Saigon!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

We're having fun exploring Saigon on foot - great city for walking, since much of what we want to see is within several miles or kilometers of our hotel.

And as in much of SE Asia, the art and history and culture are everywhere, just part of everyday life.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EDDYMEESE 12/14/2014 10:27PM

    so interesting and so bright and beautiful! I didn't realize so much of the architecture and food and such is French, but now I understand the Vietnamese baguette shop we used to eat at in school! Now I get it, lol! Great blog!

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CONFUSEDBIRD 12/14/2014 1:31PM

    She looked more like a Chanukah elf hehe Have a nice Chanukah you guys!

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ROCKYCPA 12/13/2014 11:17PM

    Another very interesting blog - thanks for sharing!

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PHEBESS 12/13/2014 11:17AM

    Well, $1 US = 22,000 Vietnamese dong. So $10 US is quite a bit, more than the cab ride from the airport. Enough for the two of us to eat dinner at a fancy restaurant. Really, things are quite inexpensive here.

I suspect that only the $10 was taken because I only had $22 US, and the rest in dong. Guessing the thief figured one missing bill might be less likely to be noticed, as Sylph said. Richard kept saying I must have spent it, but I knew I hadn't spent any US $. (I only had it because I changed the last of my Malaysian money into $.)

I occasionally had money stolen from my purse at school. Someone once told me that that was how you could tell if a student liked you, they wouldn't empty your wallet, they'd leave you something. Weird but probably true.

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SYLPHINPROGRESS 12/13/2014 11:10AM

    I just noticed WatermEllen's question on the cultural value or statement of the theft of only $10. There may be some cultural element, but I'm thinking that it was a calculated move -- not everyone would miss $10 out of the whole. Or would notice and think he'd lost it or spent it on small things that we don't ordinarily think about: tips, carfare, a coffee. Maybe?

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SYLPHINPROGRESS 12/13/2014 11:02AM

    I didn't know about the use of Roman alpha until I saw a newspaper years ago that my haircutter had in her shop. From what I heard long ago, she'd gone back to Vietnam. If so and if you meet a woman whose English name is Cindy and who lived in Queens, and she cuts hair, let her at you. After about 10 years, I still mourn her disappearance.

Anyway, my reason for coming back is to give you this link to a brief account of the written language. Otherwise I wouldn't have known you'd replied!


Comment edited on: 12/13/2014 11:07:16 AM

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WATERMELLEN 12/13/2014 10:31AM

    What a genius capsule history of Vietnam, to put everything in context -- and what a wealth of fantastic photos!!

So sorry about your experiences of theft -- curious that not all the money gets taken, only a portion: I wonder what cultural value that communicates??

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PHEBESS 12/13/2014 9:12AM

    I wondered about the Roman letters as well. Vietnamese also adds all kinds of marks almost similar to the trop used in Torah Hebrew - little dots and accent marks that denote intonation. Some words go up at the end, as if they're a question; others go down, like a statement. I don't know where that came from.

Just a note - Malaysian and Indonesian also are written in Roman letters. I'm not sure where that came from, since the Chinese people in these areas have their alphabets, the Indian people in these countries have another alphabet, and neighboring Thailand has a unique alphabet.

As an English speaking tourist, though, it helps to be able to read signs, so we like places with Roman alphabets!

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    I'm always amazed and thrilled by the importance of aesthetics in daily life in some cultures. The carvings, the small things, so muh more.

The colonial architecture is grand and quite the statement of the builders' self-image. Some day I'll research something I've wondered since I learned that written Vietnamese uses the Roman alphabet. Was there no written form before the arrival of Europeans or was it changed?

Keep them coming, Phebs.

Comment edited on: 12/13/2014 8:53:02 AM

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GOANNA2 12/13/2014 8:23AM

    Great blog. Thanks for sharing more of your
photos and travels. emoticon

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Hello Vietnam!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

We've been here just over 24 hours and have visited the busy and crazy market, navigated the absolutely insane streets, enjoyed great food, and walked around our neighborhood in one direction.

This is an interesting country full of friendly people, gorgeous produce, beautiful flowers, and some of the most frenetic traffic I've ever seen!!!

And a few photos:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RDEE22 12/12/2014 7:29AM

    Great photos and Blog Phebes. Thanks for sharing your great trip with us!

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ROCKYCPA 12/11/2014 12:17AM

    Wonderful pictures - the colors are so bright. Can't wait to see and hear more of your journey in Vietnam.

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PHEBESS 12/10/2014 9:54PM

    Sylph, I like that saying!!!!

Watermellen, yes, they were speaking in English. And in the wet market, I also have to switch to holding my breath or breathing through my mouth, I can't handle the smell. Gah indeed!

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WATERMELLEN 12/10/2014 9:47PM

    This friendly outgoing place seems ideally suited to friendly outgoing YOU!! Hope you enjoyed that watermellen (and corrected their spelling if necessary) -- I'm gathering everyone was speaking English to you in the market? The flowers are gorgeous . . . and I always want to stay away from the meat areas (gah).

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    There is an old saying in my family: "The country in which you buy a tablecloth is the country to which you will return to make your home."

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RAVELGIRLY 12/10/2014 2:40PM

    Great photos! I look forward to seeing more photos and reading about your adventures in Vietnam.

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Malaysian Christmas Preparation, and More Baby Cat

Monday, December 08, 2014

We're finishing our time in Malaysia, a place that continues to surprise and amaze us. The stores, restaurants, and hotels are decorating for Christmas - I really like the giant Santa tree!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GOANNA2 12/14/2014 2:10AM

    I've been travelling and am having fun catching
up with your travels. thanks for sharing. emoticon

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PHEBESS 12/10/2014 9:31AM

    I like generic Christmas decorations, like the lights and trees and swags of holly. Not crazy about the creche scenes in the US or USVI on public property. But, well, I decorate for Chanukah, so what can I say. I just like decorations!

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PLATINUM755 12/10/2014 6:53AM

    I'm taken by the Christmas celebration as well, and what an AWESOME job they did. I have to agree, the Santa Claus Tree is FANTASTIC. emoticon for another GREAT share. Be safe on the next leg of your travel. emoticon

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IFDEEVARUNS2 12/9/2014 11:31AM

    Enjoy Vietnam!

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PHEBESS 12/9/2014 9:03AM

    It did occur to me that this wasn't the best place to stand in the bus - that's why I wanted to make sure the driver had a good view of his mirror!

Yeah, we get attached to people (and kitties) and sometimes it's hard to move on. But, well, I guess we're goodwill ambassadors or peace ambassadors or something.

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ROCKYCPA 12/9/2014 12:06AM

    Wishing you safe travels as you continue your journey. Leaving new friends is always hard but nowadays it is so easy to keep in touch.

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WATERMELLEN 12/8/2014 9:37PM

    It has to be very hard to leave behind people and places and little cats -- but it's also very exciting to think about the next place and the people you'll meet and probably more little cats too!!

Love the giant Santa tree and all the great decorations -- what a generous culture to adopt all those celebrations!!

So glad you didn't go flying through the windshield of that bus!!

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Baby Cat, Elephants, and a Cat-Child

Friday, December 05, 2014

It's been a busy week, and I've summarized most of it in our travel blog.

But I'll share a story here that I couldn't put in the blog. DH liked the idea of painting batik panels as a gift for his brother and sister-in-law, so one rainy afternoon we went down to the shop at the market and picked out two coordinating designs. Now, DH is a big, ex-football-playing attorney, who is musical but not exactly artistic. But the batiks already have the wax painted on the fabric, creating the designs. All the person needs to do is carefully paint the dye in the spaces. And the dye flows, stopping at the wax which resists the dye. Easy peasy! It was so funny to coach (and coax) DH along as he mixed his colors and carefully painted on the dye. His efforts: the giraffe, and the sky on the elephant design. I pretty much did everything else. It was really cute, working on this together.

Our co-creation:

Here's the blog link:

And just a few photos for the title:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PUNCHILOUIE 12/8/2014 7:09PM

    beautiful batiks both! cute little fellow and quite interesting temples!

Indeed we the people want peace, the governments on the other hand want to impose their order on others and control the people, ... why is that?.....

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PLATINUM755 12/7/2014 2:05AM

    Awwww! This is definitely a trip to remember! Love the pics and the pyramid has peaked my interest. I'll have to do some research about it. emoticon emoticon

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WENDYJM4 12/6/2014 6:56PM

    cute pictures. sounds like you are having a wonderful time

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    Gotta love the indigenous giraffe.

I'd like to hear Christopher Wren, Stanford White and a host of others speak of the temples, Hundertwasser and Gaudi included.
What would they say of the kittens?

Comment edited on: 12/5/2014 6:13:32 PM

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    Gotta love the indigenous giraffe.

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WATERMELLEN 12/5/2014 10:15AM

    Comel is a comely cat!! Eyes open, ears up, fur filling in fuzzily and he's looking bigger!! You will miss him, he will miss you: but you've helped give him a great start in life as a "hospitality cat" greeting the guests!

Love the batik project -- next DH will have you throwing around a football and preparing legal briefs, right? It's only fair to transfer the skills both directions!! (Yours are more fun though).

Gotta say, I see so many women here on Spark who make the decision not to eat what their partners eat: and cope with that by making two meals. Which of course is torture -- shopping for, cooking, serving, cleaning up after food you can't eat yourself. You made the right decision for sure -- but women are socialized to be addicted to the approval of others, especially our spouses and our kids . . .

PS just love that ellenphant frieze, especially the ellenphants turning to look at the viewers and fitting into the corners!!

Comment edited on: 12/5/2014 10:16:01 AM

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