Thursday, 13 October 2005


I'm still digesting what I think of Vietnam before saying too much (although I could say the same thing about China and it has been almost 2 years...). However, I wanted to tell a story about something that we overheard on our last day.

We were walking around Marble Mountain, which is a group of mountains in Central Vietnam that contain a substantial amount of marble: hence the name, and went down into a cave for a look around. I was staring up at the large holes in the roof of the cave, watching the rain drops fall and head slowly towards the ground when an American tourist entered the cave with his Vietnamese guide.

He pointed to the holes in the roof of the cave and said "So that is where the Americans bombed the cave?"

"Yes" his guide replied.

"Bullseye!" He responded, clearly excited. "So this place was used as a hospital? How many people died?"

Charming, just charming.

A similar 'ugly tourist' event happened again here today. I was sitting in a cafe downtown, doing some PhD reading when a couple of guys came up with a young child and sat down. Shortly afterwards, an older woman who may have been their mother came up.

"Its so hot." She complained. "I've seen some things today. I should be Prime Minister of this place. I'd clean this place up. I'd show them how to landscape. They need to fix up this place."

I turned around at glared at them and her son gave me a nervous glance.

"What? Don't you think that's a good idea?" She asked him.

"They're working on it." He replied quietly.

I wanted to shout at her. "You arrogant American. Why do think that you can do everything better than everyone else? Laos is one of the poorest countries in the world and you come from one of the richest and look at the poverty in your own country! You guys were so brillant at dealing with New Orleans, weren't you?"

Instead, I just closed my book and left. I was too angry to speak rationally (besides the fact that she wasn't actually speaking to me and it would have been very impolite to just interupt them).

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