Ho Chi Minh was a wonderfully strange experience. But the place that really made an impression was the War Remnants Museum.
I can be considered a newbie traveller. I've mostly gone to nearby countries and most of my travels are too short to even begin to scratch the surface of knowing/experiencing a culture. So travelling to Ho Chi Minh where most a lot of the tourism revolves around war was, at least for me, a very different experience.
The War Remnants Museum features many exhibits on the past war including some really painful photographs of its aftermath. If the goal is to make people realise that war is indeed, not good for anything, then mission accomplished. It isn't a place where you would take your family for a good time, definitely.
However, the whole experience is a big eye-opener. When you go through the different exhibits, you'll see what the Vietnamese people had to go through and how much they have had to change in order for them to be a more open country. And let me tell you, moving forward as a country after something like that isn't easy. I would know. My country (Filipino here) is still recovering, even after more than 3 decades of relative peace.
Check the topmost photo of the execution of Nguyen Ngoc Loan. It was taken by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Eddie Adams.
Quote on the predicament of the photojournalist, especially in the time of war. Do you help or do you just stay behind the lens and don't interfere?
Even if visiting the War Remnants Musem wasn't really a "happy" experience, it was still a good one. Isn't that what travel is supposed to do? It's supposed to expand your horizons, open your eyes to both the good and the bad.