We barely made it up in time for breakfast, the slightly softer than usual bed had been very nice to us. We did some research on what to do, the Cu Chi tunnels turned out to be nicer to do in the morning so we striked that option for today. Tripadvisor nr 1 thing was touring with XO tours so we checked them out. A bit pricey but they seemed nice, and had trips in the evening as well as a foodie trip. We arranged for two foodie trips (58 USD each) for the evening and went outside to stroll towards the War Remnants Museum. It was closed for lunch as we got there so we enjoyed a fika nearby, mango strawberry smoothie for yours truly tasted just great.
The War Remnants Museum was in some aspects similar to other museums of the sort, showing the cruelty of mankind – tortured victims and general horrible numbers and facts. Not surprisingly the focus was on the sufferings of the patriotic communist side, and little was mentioned about how things looked before US decided to go berserk. Nevertheless, Agent Orange, the sheer number of bombs and tortures does paint a not so flattering picture of US. There were also photo exhibitions, including some classics but it was clear that not all Americans supported this war – far from it. This in combination with the fact that this wasn’t that long ago, Senator Bob Kerry admitted massacres just a decade ago, and children are still born with mutations from Agent Orange as of today, left a bad taste. It didn’t help seeing that Boeing had proudly manufactured some of the gunships, but the perhaps most uncanny feeling was from realizing that very reason we can understand these horrors (and learn from them) was that information had been made public. Life magazine had very graphic images, stories of the horrors of war leaked through and the government realized that the support from the voting people were plummeting – so it seems that these heroes, these photographers and these writers, who many died for providing this to the public, were instrumental to enable an informed public that finally led to retreat. Contrast this with how US and other governments treats leaks of similar information today, it seems that unfortunately the lesson learned was not to behave as barbarians but rather to hide it and punish those who uncover uncomfortable truths.
Enough political ranting, we headed back to the hotel just a few minutes before we were picked up by our guides from XO Tours. They were simply put stunningly beautiful, and looked very professional in their traditional Ao Dai dresses. They drove us to the first stop where we met the other members of the group, it was six other tourists with their respective guide and the manager, Tung, so 17 in total but it didn’t feel crowded. The first dish was a soup with a fresh taste, it looked similar to the common noodle soup but had another name as well as taste. It was really good and it was only the first our of five entrees.
There were too many delicious dishes to describe here in the detail they deserve. In addition to the regular dishes we also tried frog which wasn’t bad at all. One thing that I did try but didn’t finish however was an egg with some partly evolved chicken fetus, it didn’t taste much but considering the alternative dishes and the limited capacity of my stomach I preferred the other dishes. We visited different areas and places in between the dishes and it felt like we really saw different parts of the city, district 7 where dogs walked freely and no sounds of motorbikes could be heard, Chinatown with night markets, district 4 infamous for its high crime rate and so on. With the exception from when we drove through a backpackers area we saw no other tourists but was surrounded by locals who visited their favorite places.
Perhaps it was the emotions from the museum, perhaps the joy of eating such good food with such a lovely company or maybe it was the fact that I rubbed my chili-smeared fingers in my eyes – regardless the reason the result was that I quickly needed to rinse my burning eyes with water at one place. One has a certain grace when crying and stumbling and trying to get water in your face but not over your clothes. All in all we had a great evening, the lovely girls were safe drivers and great guides, the food was really nice and we could definitely not have done this ourselves. So a bit pricey, but something we feel we can really recommend others to do as well.