Buddhas,Warlords and ethnic Vietnamese :Ho Chi Minh City’s History Museum

Ho Chi Minh City is famous for a number of tourist sites including its Post Office,Notre Dame Cathedral and its Harrowing Vietnam War Museum.What is not so well known is the city’s history museum telling the story of the country for the last 30,000 years.

Tucked away in a side street off a main road next to the city’s botanical gardens this gem of a museum includes numerous artifacts dating from the Stone Age to the present day.

Big frieze across the entrance of museum
Inner courtyard entrance to the museum

When you get there you are greeted by a large Buddha in a room full of Buddhas from different Asian countries.

This-is the Buddha that greets you

The Buddha here is a reproduction of the oldest known Buddha in Vietnam dating back to the eleventh century

These fine stone sculptures date from the eleventh century when a warlord triumphed over rivals and led to a leap in artistic culture

The museum had some fine costumes and an interesting exhibit showing how ethically diverse the South Vietnamese with no fewer than 34 different indigenous groups in the country .

historic Royal finery and pottery

The sad thing is that we weren’t able to see the whole museum including more modern exhibits.officially designated as disabled friendly some of the rooms were inaccessible to wheelchairs because you had to go up a flight of steps.Also the ramp to the entrance was so steep that I needed the assistance of some fit young Vietnamese lads to get to the top.

Our taxi driver also helped Margaret get up the stairs to the museum’s cafe. On the plus side it had a very good accessible disabled toilet.

Fascinating exhibit showing the 34 different groups making up the Vietnamese nation

Finally since we were last in Vietnam the number of scooter boys and girls has grown on the roads. See a previous blog. So much so the latest new expressway has a a segregated lane for the daredevil scooter drivers Even there they move faster than some motor vehicles weaving around to overtake each other – just like in Ho Chi Minh City.

Off the Western tourist route: Kuala Lumpur’s amazing Islamic arts museum

On the edge of the centre of Kuala Lumpur – a city dominated by huge skyscrapers and apartment blocks – near the greenery of Lakeside Gardens is a modern museum dedicated to Islamic Art.

Ornate metalwork at the museum
Two huge metal candlesticks
Stunning costumes and textiles from India

The Islamic Arts Museum opened as recently as 1998 is not on Cunard’s shore experience programme and consequently has few Western visitors.But this is not a local or even a Malaysian national museum but an important international one.

It has over 12000 artefacts, a large reference library and tells the story of the spread of Islam from the Middle East across Asia and China through Islamic Art.Missing are artefacts from Spain after it was occupied by the Moors.

The collection is impressive. It covers metalwork,ceramics,textiles,jewellery,weaponry, manuscripts, China and furniture.

A 16th century illustrated Koran

With 12 galleries it is almost too much to take in but it also a very cool Restuarant and Cafe to have lunch and a break. What is fascinating is how Islamic art adapted from Turkish carpets to delicate China through a rather extravagant costumes in India.

One of the most intricate China pieces in the museum

There was also an interesting collection of weaponry including heavily decorated rifles as illustrated below.

Malayan rifles

Textiles and ceramics were well represented.

Examples of ceramics

The light and airy building makes the museum pleasant visit especially as Kuala Lumpur has very high humidity and temperatures often top 33C.

Batik carpet