I am a London-based Digital PR/Social Media/SEO Consultant, music producer/anorak, deep sea diver, avid cyclist, worldwide traveller and football-loving technology bod! This page functions as a kind of online scrapbook/resource featuring my favourite blog posts and news items as well as my own personal reviews and recommendations in the worlds of music, sport, travel and technology!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

The War Remanants Museum and good times with the ex-pats!

Today, I woke up around 11am and wondered where the hell I was? My vision was slightly blurred, hair all over the place and I still had the taste of purely-cut local Vietnamese whiskey on my breath. I was still wearing my jeans from the last three days and all I could see was some shitty Vietnanese version of the X Factor on the tele, two fans blaring at me at full-force, endless traffic horns beeping and some guy chanting 'Waaaaaaaahhh, Kahhhhhhhhhhh' next door. I did wonder what that meant...for about...10 seconds..and was going to say to him 'who you calling a wanker?' but soon jumped in the shower and was out of the door to meet another friend of mine Dave who's a 34 year old American guy I met in London a few summer's ago on a night out. Another very funny guy, Dave is from Colorado and got a job teaching English in Saigon after breaking up with his Canadian fiance several months ago and deciding to fly the nest and take a long extended break from the States..i.e..as he likes to say, 'Never go back!". He also now has a Phillipino girlfriend.

He used to work as a financial planner in New York for about 5 years but jacked it in to go travelling and has since learnt fluid French and Italian. He also now meditates and has a small pony tail. Soon I reckon he'll become a buddhist and buy a pet monkey. Infact, I'm certain he will. It's at that point that he starts to receive no more phone calls from me.

We went to a local market stall to shoot the breeze, eat some pork and noodles (for 70p a bowl!), drink some nice cold ice tea and then head off to the 'War Remnants Museum' in District 3 which he was keen to see.

Although I've obviously never been directly affected by the Vietnam war, the older I get the more interested I am in discovering why the great wars of the world occured and try to understand the mindlessness of successive governments around the world....er...as well as being a huge fan of Nam war movies such as Platoon, Apocolypse Now, Full Metal Jacket..etc..the list goes on..so yeah, I just fancied shooting an AK47 if I could get my hands on one..shallow I know

The War Remanants Museum was opened to the public for the first time in 1975.

In its role as the unique Museum in Vietnam to systematically study, collect, preserve and display exhibits on war crimes and aftermaths foreign aggressive forces caused for Vietnamese people.

It nowadays houses 8 permanent thematic exhibitions including a detailed Vietnam War tour which I found really interesting yet shocking and sad.

Dave soon shot off to meet his girlfriend so I hitched a ride to see Saigon river as the sun went down...one of the things that struck me was the sheer amount of traffic on the roads at 4.30pm in the afternoon! So many people appear out of work in this town. I also spoke at great length to a local old man of 55 about the war and his personally opinions..my own little piece of (limited) citizen journalism...having been a soldier for the Saigon army during French/American rule, he had a few things to say to camera which I'll try my best to upload in the next few days once I find a computer that'll pick up my phone.

  In evening I hooked up with Adam again and we went to the local food market where we ate fresh scallops with Vietnamese seafood noodles and fried frog with this special chilkli/lemon sauce all for about a fiver and I would confidently say that if you bought the equivalent in London, it would probably wouldn't taste half as fresh or delicious - and also would have costed in the region of 35-40 quid.

  We then headed into a central distrcit where we hooked up with some of Adam's teacher buddies; Steve, a 32-year old ex-trader from Northampton and Rob, a 6ft 5 Ozzie ex-rocker who had lived in Vietnam for close to twenty years and looked like Henry Rollin's doppleganger.

  This time two years ago, Steve was on a 100k+ salary working in the City for a top bank before being laid off. This ultimately led to problems with his fiance and after being unemployed for close to four months, he saw an advert online about a Business teaching job in Saigon so decided to apply as he fancied a change of scenrary anmd had no ties in London apart from his girlfriend.

  He had no formal teaching qualifications but managed to fluke to the telephone interview due to his knowledge of finance and online trading which he promised he could teach his students if given the job...plus he's a good talker so will always do well in life.

  So he arrived in Saigon and after 3 days of winging it, two of his students complained to the head of the school saying that they couldn't quite understand his thick 'Norfhampton' accent and he was soon down-graded to teaching kids basic English in the place of a young 24-year old American 'spring break' college girl. It turns out that in schools across Vietnam these days, the younger generation have bought into the 'American drean' (despite their parents fighting against them during the war) and all want to become film stars..a dramatic turn-around in attitude in a mere 30 years..

  He was deeply offended and thought about taking his case to the British Embassy but soon realised that he had an easy 8-4pm job that required hardly any effort and no moderation so he's stuck it out for a year on a very good salary and wants to stay longer...

  After way too many whiskey's he explained the art of online trading and the future of Vietnam before moving onto another bar with Rob and Adam until 3am..

  I got his number and we're gonna head to a club with them on NYE where he's going to introduce me to an Aussie mate of his who runs an international advertising firm in Vietnam...I managed to squeeze in some Hue Beef Noodles and hit the sack at 4am


Interestingly, Rob said he couldn't believe it when his travel agent told him a couple of months ago that his visa extension for a year had been rejected after living and teaching in Saigon for over 10 years!


He asked why, but received no coherent answer.


Many expats who have been caught unawares by an “abrupt change” in visa renewal regulations are angry and upset about receiving no advance notice or explanation.

The latest immigration rules allow foreigners without a work permit to extend their visa twice for three months each. At the end of the six months, they will have to leave Vietnam.


Posted via email from Jeremy Lloyd Travel Diaries

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