I’ve loved the musical “Miss Saigon” since I was in middle school – I remember going to see it with my choir, and over the years in my high school choir, a group sang the song “Bui Doi” every year at the year-end concert. As I wander the streets of this insane city (insane really is the only word for it, though I would characterize it as controlled insanity), I hum my favorite songs from the musical in my head.
You are here like a mystery…I’m from a world that’s so different from all that you are….how in the light of one night…did we come…so far….
The story, for those who don’t know and Drew assures me that MOST people don’t know, is about a GI who was here during the war, fell in love with a Vietnamese prostitute, went home, and found out later that he is the father of an illegitimate baby (They’re called bui doi….the dust of life…conceived in hell…and born in strife…). He goes back to Vietnam to make it right. The end.
I was interested in Saigon not only to witness the traffic for myself, but also to witness the impact of the Vietnam War. Do people still have feelings, positive or negative, about what happened here in the 60s and 70s? The short answer is, not really. This is a very young city and many people are too young to remember or weren’t even born. There are several monuments and museums dedicated to Vietnamese history, from back when it was a French territory, through its war of Independence from the French, to what is now widely referred to as the American War, but like most museums, the audience is mostly (all?) visitors.
I choose to celebrate Vietnam for its welcoming people, it’s buzzing motorcycle culture and for the progress it’s making internally, diminishing the poverty levels, reinvigorating the environment, etc. It’s a wonderful place to be.