Mekong delta and war crimes ensemble

Fun on the Mekong

Well the last few days on the Mekong delta have been great -
especially yesterday as we jumped a boat to take us eastwards
down the mekong to Can Tho where we stayed in a local farm stay
(basically just somebodies house converted to allow for visitor

The boat trip took about 8 hours, and I spent most of it a hamock
reading a book or listening to music...  there is such
an abundance of things to look at! So much is going on in the
Mekong delta - I've seen brick factories, loads of family owned
live aboard cargo boats, floating fish farms (basically houses
with netting cages underneath housing the fish), barges dredging
the harbour of transporting fertilizer and all sorts of other
random things.   It's definitely my favourite part of
the Mekong that I've seen so far - I'd love to come back with my
own boat and explore the region thoroughly one day - it's simply

This'morning we got up early and headed to the floating markets
in Can Tho by boat - the markets setup every morning,
selling food predominiately, but also covering things such as
porcelain, fuel and building materials - all from boats floating
50 or so yards off shore.. I would estimate that there was at
least 200 boats there this morning - fascinating stuff to watch,
especially as just about every boat over 6 or 7 metres
doubles as a family home.. so you have mum, dad and the
kids all helping out.. some more then others (the woman here seem
to get worked bloody hard).

Also while in Chau Doc we headed up the Sam mountains to watch
sun set over the amazingly fertile Mekong delta (I've never seen
any place greener) - and headed out to a village near the Khmer
border which had all but 3 of it's occupants slaughtered by the
Khmer rouge - and amazingly one of the 3 survivers runs the local
drinks shop, so you can talk to her (via a translator) - what a
tough old bugger she is too - shot in the neck and beaten over
the head - she lost conciousness only to awake 3 hours later and
discover everyone else in the town dead (I think it was
aproximately 3000 killed?) - and somehow she just kept of living
ever since.

Back to Saigon, The War Remnants museum

This afternoon we headed back to Saigon, where I am now.. and
decided to visit the war remnants museum... which is basically
the American/Japanese war crimes museum.. the museum seems to be
split into 4 sections.  The first is a number of war
artificats - including tanks, fighters, helicopters and artillery
from the vietnam war... which was quite interesting, to me at
least.. second section is a wonderful array of war time
photography done by american and japanese war correspondents that
provides an insight into the photographers themselves as opposed
to what they were capturing on film, included in this section is
a book listing a page long history of each photographer who lost
his life (or just went missing) during the conflict.. I never
realised just how many war correspondents perished in the
conflict.. there are a lot of pages.

After that we have the war crimes sections, which I see as two -
basically the first one you hit is what generally horrifies most
people - which details the devestation caused by defoliants, such
as agent orange, and phosphor based bombs dropped on villages. If
the photos on the walls aren't bad enough (people with skin
falling off, disfigured and humongous birth defects) - they also
have fouetuses in jars showing massive deformities as a result of
gross dioxin poisoning in their mothers.

The second section is the more traditional war crimes -
documenting the wholesale slaughter of men, woman and children..
with some truely horrific pictures of American soldiers looking
pretty pleased with themselves as they proudly show off corpses
(and in some cases partial corpses) of their victims.

I think the museum in itself is interesting for two very
different reason, one because of the truely amazing photographs
that are on display, and secondly because it is truely a product
of propoganda fueled from the north - displaying a
particularly one sided view of a tragic and drawn out conflict -
a good reminder of whoever wins the war, writes the history
books... but regardless of bias, the end result is that a lot of
people died on both sides, most of them needlessly. 

Off The Nah Trang

Tonight we jump onto an overnight train at 11:00pm to take us up
to Nha Trang ... it will be interesting to see how the
trains are in Vietnam, compared to China and Thailand
- Looking forward to it, definitely been too long since I've
been able to catch a train (seeing as Laos has none, and Cambodia
has one or two (depending on who you talk too) .. but it's
only capable of travelling at ~20km/hr!)

Incidentally Nah Trang used to be the traditional R&R spot
for american soldiers, and still carries a very dodgy reputation
after dark - it should be good for a laugh, though my guide
warned that they've had cases of men being chased by prostitutes
- even all the way into elevators in hotels.

Written on May 26, 2005