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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Reunification and the $2 Bill

Friday, 05 Sept, 2008, 9:00am ish

Today we visited the “Reunification Palace” formally known as the Independence Palace before the fall of Saigon in 1975. This is the infamous building shown in all the pictures during the fall of Saigon in ’75 where the North Vietnamese tanks ultimately crashed through the gates and soldiers rushed in the building, ran up to the roof and raised the North Vietnamese flag. (And while in VN we do as the natives do… so here is a picture of us proudly standing by that tank that first hit the gate in ’75) Now if I’ve got this straight for the tour that we had, those pesky French took over Viet Nam fro over 100 years and FINALLY that Vietnamese were able to rules their own country when they drove the French out. However, the nasty war-lording “Americans” quickly took the place of the French and would now allow the Vietnamese Socialist Democracy to help its people. The American prevented the country from uniting and was a dictatorship with a puppet government. Bad Americans! (Mind you this tour given in rough pigeon English was given to a group of Americans including American VN vets. All was quite respectful.) FINALLY in 1975, the North Vietnamese were successful in driving out those pesky Americans just like they did the French and were able to unite their people and finally provide for their people with their Socialist Democracy. They are a proud people as they should be. They’ve over come hundreds of years of domination and are strong and clever.
The Palace itself is a beautiful modern structure and still used for political meetings. But the majority of the place serves as a museum to the unification and stands as it did in 1975. Same maps, same phones, same desks and fans. Same bomb shelters and underground tunnels. It was amazing to see so little of it changed. Here also pictures of the Reunification Palace including the map room, the underground tunnels that stretch miles, the infamous out side gardens/gates and avenue that the tanks drove down and crashed the gates...
Remnants of the French that I LOVE… being called Madam where ever I go. It sound so eloquent and far better than the US version. Buttery croissants for breakfast every day. And wonderful French breach in lieu of white rice at meals. YUMMY to soak up the wonderful sauces and not waste even a drop.
I LOVE Pho for breakfast! Just a little side note.
We also visited Notre Dame Cathedral which I thought was surprisingly small and a little plain compared to what I was expecting. (All you that know Tim well… I documented Tim buying a rosary at the Cathedral. Got it on film as proof!) Also we had our first real encounters with pushy street beggars (which really wasn’t that bad, but then again we’ve had a lot of experience in the=is arena thanks to many many excursions south of the boarder) and crossing the street amid a flood of motorbikes and bicycles and cars and no stop lights and mass chaos. Gotta love the neon Virgin Mary!
Now let me tell you about the power of the American $2 bill! First off let me say that it was a very last minute decision to take the $2 bills. We weren’t sure if they’d be accepted or if the Vietnamese would know that they were real. Oh my! What a success!!! Don’t worry if they are a little tattered either unlike the worries for other US currency that needs to be pretty much perfect and new. If you are looking for a bargaining tool, please bring $2 bills! The Vietnamese highly covet the US $2 bill and the exchange rate on them is higher for them than that of other US currency. But more valuable than that is the power it has to bargain with. Tim paid for some CDs at Ben Than market yesterday with 2 $2 bills and a giggling excited crowd gathered to see them and the proud recipient showed them off to all that would see. And if you want to make someone’s day, just give a $2 bill as a tip or payment!
The babies are doing well and surprisingly are sleeping each night from 8-9pm to 6-7am each morning. No middle of the night feeding or anything which really helps us get the sleep we need to start the next day.
Today we hope to visit a pagoda or two, an art museum and/or maybe a history museum. We’re flexible with our schedule everyday and go with the flow and what the babies are up to and us too with the heat. Gotta get back to the hotel every once in while to cool off in the pool. (And by the way, those bathing suits that I was worried might be to small are also HUGE on the babies but work just fine.)
We miss you all so much. I didn’t expect to be this homesick, but I am. I want to stay in this country and see all it has to offer and talk to these wonderful people and soak it all up. But I so miss my children and my family. Love to you all from us.



  2. Wow, I love looking at your pictures and reading your posts. I am envious about the great experiences you are having! Your little Sunburn does have amazing eyes!
    Stacey and Sasha


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