The city Ho Chi Minh is named after one of the most iconic figures in Vietnamese history. In fact many Vietnamese people worship Ho Chi Minh, giving him god-like stature.
Ho Chi Minh was born Nguyễn Sinh Cung on May 19, 1890, but is more well-known as Nguyễn Ái Quốc (In Chinese that translates to "Lover of Country"). During his lifetime, he employed more than 30 aliases while he worked and studied all over the world. After the last president Bao Dai (in my previous post) was ousted, a lot of political chaos ensued before Ho Chi Minh finally became the Chairman of the Communist Party in 1951. At the time, Vietnam was torn into a North side and a South side. In an effort to unite the two sides, Ho Chi Minh established the Democratic Republic Vietnam where he became the Prime Minister in 1946.
One of the things I like most about him was that he liked playing volleyball, which is also the sport I love playing most. He died on September 3, 1969 while assisting his countrymen in the Vietnam War. By this time, he had lost power as Prime Minister but remained a strong figurehead. When Saigon was recaptured after the war on 1975, they renamed it after him. Obviously such an influential figurehead would have a Museum exhibiting his life and his revolutionary work, and it wouldn't be right for a visitor to pass by Vietnam without visiting a Ho Chi Minh Museum. There are museums scattered all over the country, where children can come for educational trips, and visitors may learn more about Ho Chi Minh.
Ho Chi Minh is mostly known for its colonial architecture and pagodas.
Interestingly, in 2005, the statue of the Virgin Mary was reported to have shed tears, running down the right cheek of the statue's face. Thousands of people flocked to the area to see the phenomenon. However, the top clergy of the Catholic Church in Vietnam dismissed the matter and stated that the Virgin Mary in fact did not really shed tears. For several days after that announcement, many people still went to the area to see the statue, often causing heavy traffic around the Cathedra, as the people were too many for traffic enforcers to handle.
The Cathedral is located downtown, right across the Saigon Central Post Office.
Here are some of the other places we visited in Ho Chi Minh:
When we visited the War Remnants Museum, I caught a glimpse of the ugliest effects of war that fell upon a generation of Vietnamese people that had nothing to do with it. The special photography exhibit in the museum at the time of our visit was about the effects of the US Army's Agent Orange dioxin to the descendants, not only of the Vietnamese soldiers, but for the American soldiers in the Vietnam War as well. There were so many haunting and horrible photos of disfigured children that make you stop and wonder why there needs to be war and cruelty! The things people come up with to harm others can only end in tragedy for all parties. But I'll save my thoughts on that for another post before this one gets too long.
To end this post are some interesting food finds in Ho Chi Minh: