Friday, October 03, 2008

Not Hello Kitty nor a Silver Strapped Ensemble nor Soup

"On June 8, 1972, nine year-old Kim Phuc, severely burned by Napalm, ran from a misplaced air strike over her village in S. Vietnam and into the eye of history. Her photograph , one of the most unforgettable images of the 20th century, was seen around the world and helped turn public opinion against the Vietnam War." - from The Girl in the Picture by Denise Chong (a book I'm reading now).

I know what you're thinking:

1) This is a very disturbing picture to place on a blog that has pictures of Hello Kitty and soup and Princess Di silver strapless ensembles.

but that you are also thinking:

2) Marjie has been in Ho Chi Minh City for over a month and she has not gone anywhere! I am about to stop reading her blog because all she talks about are her new dresses (got another one today: silk, brown, with gold embroidery) and massages (today is the only day of the week without one) and her driver.

I am very sensitive to my readers' needs, so I am getting out of the city tomorrow. I walked to the Backpacker's District after school and bought a ticket to Tay Ninh...on the road to Tay Ninh is where this very famous photograph was taken.

Here is more about it, from Wikipedia:"On June 8, 1972, South Vietnamese planes, in coordination with the American military, dropped a napalm bomb on Trang Bang, which was under attack from and occupied by North Vietnamese forces. She (Kim Phuc) joined a group of civilians and South Vietnamese soldiers fleeing from the Cao Dai Temple, located in the village along the road, to safe South Vietnamese positions. A South Vietnamese pilot mistook the group as a threat and diverted to attack it. Along with other villagers, two of Kim Phúc's cousins were killed. Associated Press photographer Nick Út earned a Pulitzer Prize for the photograph."

So I will see this road and village, I will see the Cao Dai Temple, which I am more excited than words to see, and I will also see the Cu Chi Tunnels. I can't wait to see all of this, and I can't wait to write about it and show you pictures (because I've read all about the Cao Dai Temple and it is wacky and wonderful!). However, what I am looking forward to most is seeing the ground. Yes, the road. My Uncle Rex, who was here 40 years ago as a part of the196th Light Brigade, 175th Engineer Co. from 1966-67, built the roads around Tay Ninh - the southern part of the Iron Triangle, with his "'dozer. " Last fall around this time, when I was in Billings visiting my Grandma Willis for her birthday, my Uncle Rex talked about his year in Vietnam and how he would like to see the Black Virgin Mountains (NE of Tay Ninh) again someday. Of course, at that time, no thought of going to Vietnam had entered my mind. Of course.

But that's what I am doing tomorrow. So the next post should be good. I'm ready to explore. It's been a good week at school.

Sorry for the picture. Actually, I would be so interested to hear some comments from those of you who remember seeing this photo at the time it came out. I was five, and I remember Watergate (I understood it as "Alligator") but knew nothing about the war. Oh, and Kim's story isn't all bad, either. She lives in Canada now, with a family. Just so you know.

I just googled "Happy Picture" in an effort to juxtapose the first one and this is what I got: Smiley on the Beach. It's hard to write anything about the war, actually, because I know and understand so little about it. Which, I guess, represents the confused consciousness of the country about it, and that is also what the picture is about...Discussion anyone?

On to other disillusionments:

Brian, I'm sorry, it's not grapefruit. It's pomelo. Alice brings me some today and I say, 'I just love Vietnamese grapefruit', and she gives me this really funny look. Anyway, I guess you will never like grapefruit. Maybe that's why it doesn't really look or taste like it. See, look how thick the skin is, and look at how green it is and look how big and juicy the sections are. I just had a pomelo juice on the r

And, speaking of juice, when I return home from school a little early today, Neighborhood Watchwoman of the candle-holding fame had a bicycle with a cart behind it parked right in front of our entry gate so that I couldn't get in (parking is a problem in the alley). I look around a bit and when she sees me she is very apologetic. She opens her ice chest, fills a cup with ice and then takes out a juice and pours it in for me. She makes this gesture from her heart: this gift is from her heart. I really am starting to love her.

Something cool: the security guard on my floor is absolutely great. He, along with most of the security staff, lives at the school and showers in the locker room. They are on duty all day long. During classes, most of them just sit out in the hallways, or even nap on the stairs (remember, I told you that the cleaning ladies nap on the floors of the bathroom). Well, this week as I walk to my room, I see my guy sitting at a desk with a book: it's a beginner's book on learning English. So now I stop and talk with him when I pass and he tries to understand. I start my Vietnamese classes this week, too, so maybe I will finally understand Chatty Cathy...and possibly fourth floor security, too.

That's all for now. Stay tuned for what should be some great pictures of the Temple. And some great pictures of the road getting to the temple.


Brian Bowker said...

Isn't it amazing that you can travel all the way to Vietnam and find some of our family history? Blows my mind. I'm so excited to learn more about the area through your reports!

I, too, would be interested if anyone that was around during the war is willing to post some comments about what it was like, and what pictures, TV images or news articles affected them.

The earliest "big news" story that I remember is when Elvis died. We were in the car with Mom when it came over the radio. I was four.

marjie said...

What...was the grapefruit thing too much for you to comment on? Too disillusioning?

Yes, I remember the Elvis Drive. We were on 196th, near what used to be Albertson's, and mom pulled the car over to let the news sink in. I think she cried. Yes, she did.

Brian Bowker said...

Disillusioning? No. More life-affirming.

amyt said...

Yes, you shocked with the photo, but it's good. There is a world in that photo, not just a war. Anxious to read tomorrows post.

I told you I sent Halloween junk. I couldn't send skulls (and everything had skulls). I don't know if spiders are culturally insensitive, but "creepy" has cultural differentiation. You'll tell us about your history tour AND how you approach the Day of the Dead.

Carol said...

Gosh, I remember nothing about the day Elvis died; however, I do remember exactly what I was doing when JFK died. Perhaps I did cry -- I was a huge fan of Elvis, but I can't remember............does this mean my mind is going?


Cecilie Eftedal said...

I cannot say that I know much about food and ingredients, but being married to a grocery guy, I actually have eaten pomelo!