No need for new museum, but spend more on those existing
Last week, Viet Nam News asked its readers what they would expect to see in a prospective VND11.3 trillion (US$537 million) National Museum of History in Ha Noi and what their favourite museums so far in Viet Nam were. Here are some replies received.
Starting in September, Quang Ninh People's Committee has officially banned tour boats in Ha Long Bay, a famous heritage site in the northern coastal province of Quang Ninh, from stopping at floating fishing villages during tours.
The move aims to prevent tourists from being disturbed, overcharged or even ripped off. The Ha Long Management Board says it has received many complaints from both international and domestic tourists about rip-offs and fraudulent activities.
The board estimates there are about 650 floating fishing houses scattered around the bay.
However, many tourist companies believe the decision would not solve the problem and residents of fishing villages worry their livelihoods would suffer.
What do you think about the move? Have you visited floating fishing villages in Ha Long Bay? What kind of experiences did you have? Do you think there are other ways to prevent tourists from being ripped off and still allow them to experience this facet of the bay?
Please reply by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by fax to (84-4) 3 933 2311. Letters can be sent to The Editor, Viet Nam News, 11 Tran Hung Dao Street, Ha Noi. Replies to next week's questions must be received by Thursday morning, October 4.
Rie Watanabe, Japanese, Ha Noi
A National Museum of History should showcase Viet Nam's history with very large displays covering every period. Regarding this, I think the current National Museum of Vietnamese History in Ha Noi satisfies all I want to see. As a result, I don't think a new museum for history needs to be built. Still, I cannot imagine what should be displayed in the museum rather than what we are enjoying now in the museum located next to the Opera House in the city.
In my humble opinion, the best museum in Ha Noi at the moment is the Viet Nam Museum of Ethnology. It earns the number one slot for one simple reason: diversity. Not many foreigners know that much about the diversified 54 ethnic groups of Viet Nam. In this museum, people will find a large collection of photos and displays representing the culture and lifestyles of many different ethnic groups in the country. On special occasions, visitors can also participate in events hewing closely to the museum's theme.
Natalie Tolkacheva, Russian, HCM City
My favourite museum in Viet Nam so far is the War Remnants Museum in HCM City. The second must be the collection at the Doc Lap (Reunification) Palace. They both show me exhibits relating to the American phase of the Viet Nam War, about which I would love to learn more during my stay in Viet Nam.
For those who want to see real military equipment such as helicopters, fighters, bombs and tanks, I highly recommend the War Remnants Museum. I am also interested in the exhibits covering the effects of Agent Orange and other chemical defoliant sprays, the use of napalm and phosphorus bombs, and atrocities such as the My Lai massacre.
The war is over. Coming to the museum reminds me how lucky I am to live in a peaceful country.
Momo Orchid, American, Ha Noi
I find the Viet Nam Museum of Ethnology more interesting than the others. It has a large area representing different regions of the country. I feel as if I am travelling around Viet Nam.
I can experience the traditional three-roomed wooden house, the tilted house and even the clay house. I can see the daily clothes of the Kinh people and the colourful traditional costumes of ethnic mountain peoples. I learn a lot about the country by visiting this museum.
Another reason that I enjoy going to this museum is that this is among only a few places in the city that offers children a large open-air playground. My children can also join in traditional games.
Viet Nam should create more of this kind of museum to attract more expat visitors.
Julia Wang, Singapore
I visited the National Museum of Vietnamese History and the Ha Noi Museum during my trip to the city last month. I think I've learnt quite enough about the country's history through these museums.
The National Museum of Vietnamese History was a beautiful building, blending French colonial and traditional Vietnamese architecture and showing me all the history of the country from the ancient age until modern times. Meanwhile, the Ha Noi Museum was a new building showcasing photos and relics collected over a long period of time. But the displays in the Ha Noi Museum are still limited and unfocused, maybe because it's still in an early stage. The managers should invest in more relics to put on display.
Well, if another national museum of history is going to be built, I hope they will have more things to show us about Viet Nam in different periods of time. For example, they can re-present the lifestyle of people in feudalism or create models of wartime. Such displays would be more imaginative. Also the new museum should invest more in preservation.
Satoh Kumiko, Japanese, Vinh Phuc Province
I'm not really interested in museums in Viet Nam though I've been to several in Ha Noi and HCM City. Most of them are not curated well and the relics are badly preserved. Also the shortage of displays and lack of updates make museums in the country less attractive to me. As a result, I do not see any point in investing a lot of money - something like $500 million - to build another museum. Why don't they just use the money to upgrade the existing museums? Some have very interesting themes.
If I had to choose my favourite, I would say the Viet Nam Museum of Ethnology in Ha Noi. Everything is organised and preserved well. It is also one of a few museums in the country that have open-air displays for visitors. Both the indoor and outdoor displays do a good job of representing the lives of different ethnic groups of Viet Nam. — VNS