June 13: Visiting Ho Chi Minh

From Adrianna ’16 

To the parents and family members who are reading this update: I can tell you that we’re all alive and extremely happy, but I cannot write down what we’ve experienced because it wouldn’t do this amazing place justice. I can tell you, however, that coming here was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. Expanding any further would sound cheesy and I simply cannot do that. We send you all of our love and we’re anxious to tell you ourselves about everything we’ve done.

From Chanel, Vietnam trip co-leader

The Ho Chi Minh masoulem is an experience of a life time. As George School delegates, we were able to skip the long lines and move to the front. There were flowers with a George School sash which were presented to honor Ho Chi Minh. In order to see Ho Chi Minh for about 10 seconds, people stand in a line that winds for 1/2 a mile for at least an hour. The level of security is warranted as he is such an honored and important leader in Vietnamese history.  Seeing that he died in 1969, it is incredible that his body is in such good shape! Every year, it is shipped to Russia where they are experts in preserving the deceased. In addition to being silent while waiting to view this national hero, one must show his/her respect with the proper attire — no shorts or hats; pants, skirts, and dresses must be below the knee. If rules are broken, security will pull you out of line. We had the fortune of having an amazing tour guide named Mike who has given tours for about 15 years. We heard not only about the history of Vietnam but also the details of Ho Chi Minh’s life prior to his presidency. As such a humble man, he wanted to live in the smallest house on the property instead of the palace which was built for him. We were also able to see the Ho Chi Minh musuem, the Temple of Literature, and the Ethnology musuem.


From Cheri, Spanish teacher and Vietnam trip co-leader

At the Temple of Literature, we saw where the mandarins of the emperor taught the most promising and privileged students at that time. The temple was erected in the year 1069 and has undergone many renovations. The 82 stone tablets built on the backs of stone turtles were impressive; on the tablets we saw inscriptions about the mandarins. The turtles represent longevity; therefore the teachings of the mandarins on the tablets resting on the turtles’ backs may live forever.

In the Museum of Ethnology, we learned about the 54 different ethnic groups that make up Vietnam. Outside the museum, we visited a few replicas of buildings typical of some of the ethnic groups. All this, in 97 degree heat and humidity!

Lunch was very different today: we stopped at a local restaurant where the food of Hue was a speciality. Hue is a city in central Vietnam, not far from Da Nang. The food had lots of gelatinous rice, much mint, and plenty of texture! The restaurant was overflowing with food and people.

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