This morning, we sat in a little street side cafe watching the scooters whizz by. We’d bought some 10,000 dong banh mi from a small shop down the street, and ordered our ca phe sua da – ice coffee with sweetened condensed milk. It’s kind of cathartic, to be sitting back in a quiet (ish) spot while the streets around you buzz with engines and the honking of horns.
After breakfast, we checked out the Military Museum. It’s massive, several stories high and sprawling. There were more buildings around it too that looked like they housed even more relics, but we didn’t check them out. Best part, it was all free!
The museum chronicled Vietnam’s military past – everything from fighting for independence from the French to the Cold War and defeating the Khmer Rouge. There were lots of relics, from old weapons to military uniforms. They also added in lots of visual aids – statues, paintings, and maps (with lots of LEDs).
One of my favourite parts of the museum was that the role of women was prominent. Unlike other military propaganda I’ve seen, women were front and centre in paintings, statues, and photographs. Their role in Vietnam’s victory was clearly showcased. There were statues of women carrying mortars and assembling bullets, pictures of women carrying heavy boxes of ammunition, and tributes to “Heroine Mothers”. I thought that was neat!
Outside the museum was a collection of artifacts from various wars, many taken as “booty” from the Americans. A big open shed housed burnt out helicopters, old planes, and cars. Next to it was another shed with more Vietnamese military equipment.
Overall, the museum was interesting and well made. It was a little bit propaganda heavy, but understandably so – after all, the winner always gets to tell their story.
That evening, we went on a walking tour to check out some good eats in Can Tho! We were joined by an Australian couple and a Dutch family, and let around the city by a nice Vietnamese guide who showed us a few of his favourite spots.
We had a selection of foods that we might not have tried on our own and had a lovely evening. We tried some deep fried savoury “muffins”, DIY rice paper spring rolls, field mouse, ceramic pot cooked meat and eggplant, and a coconut rice waffle dessert.
Oh, yeah, I did say field mouse. Our guide asked us who wanted to try, and the three guys in the group all put up their hands (Tristan included). We were told by our guide that mouse is actually pretty special, since it feeds only on rice and has to be caught by the farmer before being transported into the city. I’m sure nobody would have known the difference between a rice-fed field mouse and a sewer rat caught out back, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt!
Almost everyone ended up trying a very small piece (there’s not a lot of substance to a mouse, surprisingly). It was pretty decent, tasting a bit like pork I think. But all the little bones are a nuisance, so I don’t think I would recommend it..
Despite trying lots of food (and spending way more than our usual amount on dinner!) we weren’t really full, so we got some more banh mi after the tour.. but it was a really fun evening, with lots of good conversation and new experiences!