April 16, 2019
Today I went to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels through my second tour group booking. The tour itself was just about what I expected, the tour guide, Ken, was amiable enough and made some funny jokes.
The Cu Chi Tunnels are a network of tunnels north of Saigon near the end of the of the Ho Chi Minh trail which was a supply line used by North Vietnam and allies during the Vietnam War.
Besides the sightseeing what I found distasteful was a conversation I overheard from my fellow sightseers. On one particular section we watched a brief film in the Vietnamese perspective of the war and complained that it was “propaganda.” It may very well be, but that is not the point. My view is that whenever you are in a foreign country, you were invited as a guest.
And just like it’d rude to complain and criticize the way things are done by a dinner host, the same can he said about traveling.
I suppose this is part of the reason why I’ve shown less interest in other travelers than in locals. Travelers tend to impose their own Western values on their first country, from criticizing how they do things to expecting locals to speak English while learning none of the local language in return.
Besides, I’ve found that American schools are slanted as well, instances such as Japanese war crimes in China during WWII, Cambodian genocide under Pol Pot and the Rwandan Genocide come to mind. These historic events are ignored or glossed over because it paints a negative light on the US and it’s allies. The fact of the matter is that both sides in the Vietnam War committed war crimes. What can be done now is to learn and reflect.
Kingston S. Lim
April 16, 2019
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam