The Vietnamese Women's Museum

Since January 2007, the Women's Museum has been undergoing an extensive expansion and renovation, and that was  still the case in 2010. The ticket taker assured us that repairs would be complete by the end of the year, but that's what he said last year.

What's left are two small exhibits: one on the first floor, honouring the historical domestic role of Vietnamese women, and another on the third floor, on the business and social achievements of contemporary Vietnamese women. The latter is entirely in Vietnamese and not all that interesting. 

The first gallery is worth the price of admission though, displaying the possessions and paraphernalia of Vietnamese women through modern history, including the diary of a woman living the in Vinh Moc tunnels in the DMZ during the bombing campaign, and other touching and evocative artefacts, such as a pony tail cut off by a young woman as a memento before losing all of her hair to dioxin poisoning. 

Another photo shows young women cheerfully transporting goods along the Ho Chi Minh trail, with a caption informing that shortly thereafter, they 'died heroically'. The small exhibit is actually a powerful reminder that women on the Northern side really did fight in the war side by side with men. 

Pictures of young girls laughing with each other with machine guns slung over their shoulders may seem like a quaint piece of history, but remember, that cantankerous old woman in her 70s who is overcharging you for a bottle of water may have shot down several American planes with a shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missile launcher.

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