Tra Vinh      Ngoc Bien     Binh Ha Phoc    Mekong    Cu Chi & Cao Dai

Children in front of one of many memorials to a battle in the American War.

Most Vietnamese behave very graciously toward Americans, preferring to build the future rather than well on the past. Over 60% of the population was born after the end of the war, and in popular memory it is rapidly becoming just one of the many times the Vietnamese have had to repel "invaders."

Official histories deny the concept that the conflict was a civil war, dismissing the South Vienamese government as an American puppet.

Decorated dashboard of a van passing through Tra Vinh province, Mekong delta.

Typical stretch of National Road 22, northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, taken from the back of a tourist bus.

The guide had just informed us that near this spot the famous photograph was taken during the American war, of a terrified young girl burned by napalm dropped by an American bomber.

Cu Chi, northwest of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

Guide demonstrates the use of secret entrances to tunnels used during the war by Viet Cong guerrillas.

Exterior of the Great Temple at the Holy See of Caodaism.

This girl first approached me saying that she wished to practice her English. Once I took her picture, she switched to a strident sales pitch for chewing gum and bottled water.

The pitch became increasingly strident when, in walking toward the temple, I crossed an invisible a boundary past which temple officials prohibit non-believing peddlers.

Devotee of Caodaism praying at the Great Temple near Tay Ninh, northwest of Ho Chi Minh City.

A syncretic religion founded early in the 20th century, Caodaism reveres the three men depicted here as prophets of the "Third Alliance Between God and Man:" Chinese revolutionary leader Sun Yat Sen, 19th century French novelist Victor Hugo, and 16th century Vietnamese poet Nguyen Binh Kheim.

Cao Dai priest preparing for daily worship in the gaudily and idiosyncratically decorated Cao Dai temple, dominated by a large globe whose most prominent feature is an all-seeing eye borrowed from the traditions of the Masons.

Caodaism is one of the more flamboyant manifestations of Vietnam's two centuries of evolution in reaction to the outside world. The best explanation I have found of this process, and of the American experience in Vietnam as well, is Neil Jamieson's Understanding Vietnam.

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