HCMC Dining Guide

Thursday, November 22, 2012

In Case of War

Two things before I start:

1) Happy Thanksgiving to all of my American readers! I hope you have a great day of eating and family, sadly I won't be having much of a meal this year.

2) I've changed the settings on my comments, so you now have to enter a word to verify that you are a human. I've been getting tons of spam lately.

I played badminton this morning, and the first court we went to was part of a high school. While we waited to  find out if there would be space for us to play I glanced inside the gym and noticed a man holding an AK-47. After doing a double-take a noticed he was a teacher. He had set up a target and a class of students was watching his every move. I asked my Vietnamese friend what was going on and he said every student at every school in the country is taught the basics of handling a rifle.

I'm currently reading Vietnam: Rising Dragon by Bill Hayton, one of the few prominent books on contemporary Vietnam. In one chapter he mentions how Vietnam's education system is often criticized for failing to teach its students things like history, while focusing on making sure they can sprint 100 meters or hold a rifle. I hadn't realized how accurate that is.

I looked closer and noticed 10 more guns, all decommissioned, on the floor. After the teacher gave instructions some of the students picked up a rifle and began following his lead, practicing aiming while standing, aiming while prone, and taking apart the gun. Vietnam has a storied martial past, with its legendary victories over China, France and the U.S. In the brilliant movie "In Bruges," Colin Farrell repeatedly expresses his admiration for the ruthless killing efficiency of the Vietnamese. However, watching these soft high school students try to reload banana clips and crawl with a weapon the length of their legs didn't inspire much confidence. Urban Vietnamese youths, with their fake Gucci bags, iPhones, and reliance on KFC and their parent's money aren't exactly the toughest people around. I realize they aren't actually in the army, but I'd be a little worried if something happened and they were forced into service. I'm sure training like this happens in many countries around the world, but I had never seen anything like it.


  1. It's true that schools in Vietnam are teaching student useless military stuff and not focusing on more important issues. I asked a class of 12th graders when I was in Vietnam, where China was on a blank map, the majority of the class didn't know and pointed at Australia. New Zealand was Taiwan, and Thailand was Cambodia.

    1. I had similar things happen when I was a teacher, pretty sad to hear answers like that.