Travel is not always about party and sunshine, beach and cocktails. It is also not always about ourselves. The greatest gifts of travels is the encounter with culture and history different from our own. To learn that the own ways of thinking are not the only possible outcome, to compare, to challenge, to exchange ideas. To build understanding and with that a society that can keep up with the ongoing globalization. A lot of conflicts are caused by few people with greed, but their propaganda can spread due to lack of knowledge and misconceptions. Knowledge is power. And travel offers knowledge on a silver platter that no book or video can convey.
Vietnam is a prime example to realize that there are always multiple perspectives to be considered, and that the winner dictates how history books are written.
Visiting the War Remnants Museum and the Cu Chi Tunnels which are reminders of a system built by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. Both places will make you uncomfortable, humbled and appalled at the atrocities committed during the war.
So while I think it is imperative that we conserve places of such historical value to teach us about the past and serve as a warning and reminder, I honestly am not too sure about the way the Cu Chi tunnels are conducted. Why would you paint in great detail the war crimes comitted by others – which, don’t get me wrong, are not in any shape or form justified – but glorify your own “creative” ways of killing the enemy. Playing tear-jerking propaganda on the bus and parading victims of Agent Orange like funfair attractions does not add many sympathies in my book.
I understand that the influx of tourists help to gather revenue but it feels wrong sitting next to the tunnels eating ice cream while people next to you have fun at the shooting range. What kind of a message is conveyed here? Shouldn’t we just condone violence in general and find solutions for peace? Too idealistic an aproach, maybe. The topic is a complex one and many more words could be written, but I think I might just leave it at that and recommend you go see for yourself.
Let’s hope that travel can open the eyes of more people to come, that travellers travel with their mind open and their ears acute, that they spread their knowledge and take action. After all, I am glad that I have the opportunity to visit Vietnam and learn about it’s history, but leave with mixed feelings in my stomach. Until next time, Vietnam!
Thanks again Mari for going on the tour with me – she has a video about the Cu Chi Tunnels so go over and watch!
April 15th, 2017