Sunday, February 9, 2014

Day 166 - Ho Chi MInh City and a Chance Meeting with Missionaries!

We started our tour day at 9 a.m. today and went to the Imperial Palace first.  This is where the President of Vietnam lived and it had some nice looking rooms.  It also included a 50-seat theater room and a bunker in the basement.  There was a lot of old equipment from the 60’s still down there, but it was mostly to show what they used.  The walls in the bunker were almost a meter wide.  The Palace had been attacked once in the 60’s when a bomber from North Vietnam got through and damaged the west wing of it.  They rebuilt it so that it looks more modern.  The original one had been built in the 1870’s. 
Imperial Palace.  

The Cabinet Meeting Room.

They put the tail with the head because in order to have a good ending, you have to have a good beginning, as the saying goes.

Old machines that were in the basement bunker.

While we were at the Imperial Palace, we noticed a man and his wife that were wearing white shirts and white tags, and he had a tie on.  Maybe that doesn’t sound so unusual to you, but he noticed that some of our group had BYU shirts on.  It turns out that they are Humanitarian Service missionaries for the Church and they are stationed here in Vietnam.  They invited us to their branch that was meeting at 2 p.m.  We tried to figure out how to make it but we had a lot of problems figuring out how we could work it out.  They didn’t have an exact address for us (they just go there and the people around here just know where the “Church” is located at, so they didn’t know the address).  We would have had to hire taxis to drive us to a park that is close by, and then call the missionaries to meet us and take us there.  None of us have cell phones that work in Vietnam.  It would have been great to have gone to their meeting.  They are a newly formed Branch, just a month ago, from the other Branch.  Elder and Sister Perry were at the Palace because they had family come in from out of town and they only had one day for a visit, so they were showing them the Palace.  What are the chances that we would all be there at the Imperial Palace at the same time and be able to meet out of all the thousands of people that were there at the same time as we were!  It was so interesting to learn about the growth of the Church in Vietnam!

After that, we moved on to the Vietnam War Museum.  This was a depressing place to go and it also had a “North Vietnam” slant to all the displays.  There was also a place where they showed what were called, “Tiger Cages,” places of torture and cruelty that just made you sick.  The Tiger Cages were not necessarily from the war in the 60’s, but from an earlier time in Vietnam history. 
Depicting the walls that were around the Tiger Cages.
There is a beautiful Catholic Church near the Post Office and that is where we went to next.  The church wasn’t open at the time, so we just took an outside picture.  Then we crossed the street to see the post office that had been built in the 1880’s.  This is an impressive building architecturally that is still in use today.  They had some shops to sell lots of souvenirs, so we walked through them and then left.
The Catholic Church.

Inside the Post Office.  It was magnificent.  Many comment that it looks like an old train station inside.

It was time for lunch, so we were driven to a hotel that had a buffet and was located next to our hotel.  There were some interesting foods there as it was traditional Vietnamese food again. 
This was the boiled clam shell salad that was part of my lunch.  Too spicy for my tastes though.

This was the boiled pigs ear.  It was just cartilage and didn't taste bad.

The afternoon was a free time, so we decided that since David had been given the authority to administer the Sacrament while we were on this trip, that this would be the perfect time to do that.  We invited the others to come to our room at 2:30 and we had nine of them come.  We sang a song and had the sacrament, then we talked about meeting the Church Service Missionaries and how we felt the Lord’s hand in how we met.  It was wonderful to have this experience today.

We decided to go to a show this evening in the opera house called, “A O Show.”  A talented troupe of acrobats has choreographed scenes that depict the life of the Vietnamese.  All the props they use are made from bamboo and it was just amazing to watch.  Some of it was also juggling, but juggling with 20-foot long bamboo poles!  The music and lights all added to the effect and we all loved it.  We stopped for ice cream on the way back to the hotel.

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