Without context this phrase is meaningless, but (like so many conjured phrases in Vietnam) when I saw it on a T-shirt it made perfect sense. It was a deep and oblique commentary on the state of so many things: love, life, war, the future — it was the shortest Zen koan I’d ever seen, a wishful and fatalistic paradox that jammed me up for the rest of the day.
This woman and her boyfriend were too into shooting high-powered rifles not to be American.
Westerners posing in solidarity with a wax representation of a human they could never match up to.
Wait, let’s make sure to get a couple of foreign kids posing on top of the tank. Nice.
An attendant ushers tourists down into a Western-friendly mockup of the tunnels at Cu Chi. Though the mockup tunnels were built with Western dimensions in mind, down there cramped was an understatement (short video coming).
If you’re too rattled from popping off shots, gun range are attendants are happy to help out with photos.
A tour guide explains how the Viet Cong would use recycled rubber to make sandals that were designed to obscure soldiers’ tracks, just one example of the V.C.’s savvy.
Regular gift shop stops figured predictably into the Cu Chi tunnels tour.
At the Cu Chi tunnels — the Viet Cong’s underground base of operations that played a huge part in the Tet offensive — tourists wandered a mocked-up world of Vietnamese resilience and nationalist solidarity. Everyone paid a couple dollars to pose with tank remnants and diorama figures and generally feel like they’d “been there,” but the real lesson to be learned at Cu Chi involved the tenacity and cunning of the Viet Cong: “Secondhand, secondhand, everything is secondhand,” a tour guide told his group, pointing out the various items the VC and the National Liberation Front had made from bombshells and old tires: sandals, made from recycled rubber, had been designed to obscure tracks and confuse the enemy; other items were more mundane, but no less innovative. Oh, yeah: and at the gun range at the end of the tour, anyone interested could, for a price, shoot AK-47s at paper targets propped in front of a big pile of dirt. You know, war shit.