Over the long weekend of the mid-Autumn festival, I took a quick trip to the motherland, Vietnam. I didn’t have enough time to go west to my mum’s home town, Rach Gia, so instead, some of my cousins came to me in Saigon. Call it familial intuition, but they knew I was missing Vietnamese food and despite the trip being a 6 hour bus ride for them, had prepared and brought along my favourite dishes without me peeping a single word! That’s love 😊
I was born and raised in Australia, however it had always been very important to my parents that I knew my heritage. When I was younger, I probably didn’t appreciate their efforts so much, but over the years, I recognised more so why they wanted me to be able to identify with the place and culture that they grew up with, that also gave them so much sadness and suffering through the war and the years following, and that has moulded them into the people they are today. Having understood my parents history as refugees/prisoners/boat people (and as a soldier, in my dad’s case), I developed more appreciation for the sacrifices they made, the struggles they faced and the values they instil in me, and no longer roll my eyes when the “back in my day” line gets dropped. Though the horrible stories are now figments of the past for my mum and dad and countless other Vietnamese people, sadly that’s the reality that many migrants are facing today and my heart really goes out to them. (I’m not going to delve much further into that, but for a very thought provoking read, click here- No one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land)
This was probably my 9th trip back – the first 5 or so because I “had to” go with my parents, but the last few, on my own accord. It’s not the cleanest, most developed place in the world (it’s slowly moving in the right direction), yet the culture, the history, the food and the family ties always keeps me coming back. I just wished they could modernise the designs of bathrooms/toilets so that a properly designated section is actually cordoned off for showering!
Anyway, enough rambling – here’s some pictures!
However, despite seeing the exterior countless times, I had never been inside. I was really drawn to the walls along the cathedral, which were lined with these plaques all giving thanks to Mother Mary and the saints
On closer inspection of one wall, I could see various thanksgiving messages in Vietnamese, French and Chinese. Fascinatingly, many of these plaques originated during the years of the war – it’s a sobering thought, the things they must have been giving thanks for at the time