Train Journey From the East | 01 Vietnam – The Route of Forgiveness


Train Journey From the East The Route of Forgiveness Hello, where are you? When is the train coming? It is already 1:30. The international train from Beijing arrives at Platform 1. Dong Dang This is the name of the border station here in the northeast of Vietnam. The train from Beijing China arrives. Borders have always fascinated me. New and unknown border makes me nervous The fear of the uniform will they let me pass? Each time I am curious how the one side goes with the other side Only over the last years, the atmosphere at this border station has become relatively relaxed China and Vietnam are traditionally enemies Time and time again there was a war The last time was in 1979 This station was then also completely destroyed Vietnam has fought quite a few wars against the Chinese, against the French against the American Now there has long been peace En route to Hanoi A long journey is waiting for me I am travelling by train from Vietnam to Europe via many eastern countries cradle of great cultures and of five world religions I am looking for people and their stories ordinary travellers train staff the train as the ideal place for meeting people and a casual or fiery moment I ask everyone of their ideals success and disappointment How do you go with this era when the world seems smaller and smaller Is it a threat or rather an opportunity On this train there are people from different countries. I feel very honoured that people from other countries come here to visit Vietnam Before it was difficult We had many problems During the war it was difficult to get along with the foreigners Many things were destroyed I have mixed feelings about the war We had to go through many sorrows A lot of sorrows and worries But we had to live on Now is the relation with other countries much better I think we Vietnamese have a strong mentality We try to leave the past behind us We will forgive and look to the future In terms of religion, I am not a believer But I strongly believe in the future of this country Of my beautiful country The song in me sings about the peace The heavy past is becoming more bearable In my sad song The song lightens my soul My child time is far gone The sorrow and the care of the past have become songs My voice flies high The beautiful voice flies high in an afternoon but the tears make the afternoon wet The time sings The past is just a voice from afar The song is about my childhood about the difficulties in my childhood but now it is part of my success and a part of my soul that speaks in my songs that I sing every day I was born on 19 August, 1975 four months after the war with America I have not experienced the war My mother told me about it that she feared a lot The influence of not one, but two wars on our life is unavoidable But the influence slowly decreases It was the heaviest for my grandparents and parents But it is smaller on my generationM My children’s generation will almost not feel it any more For me it is still there. I will never forget… that we at school sang the war songs At that time we all sang them If you now hear the texts, they sound weird There are a lot of such songs I can remember, for instance with a pencil I draw an American soldier I draw his black eyes and his mean mouth A weird song in peaceful time, but I found it normal then my childhood is far gone the sorrow and the fear of the past have become songs and my voice flies high The beautiful voice flies high in an afternoon and the sun shines above the old streets the love is everywhere and my voice flies high in an afternoon but the tears make the afternoon wet the time sings the past is just a voice from afar Our country has experienced a lot of pain, poverty and wars It is the dream of us all to go out of poverty Everyone dreams that Vietnam becomes bigger and stronger When we were children, we only knew the life in isolation Vietnam did not know people from other nations The only wish is to survive We were then all happy Only until I grew up, I knew to look far, to look at the world I now have a dream and I hope it will come true that I will sell 100,000 CD’s in the US in the future to all those who love Vietnam and my voice I hope that because my music is also a bridge… that connects people from different countries Different cultures meet each other If my songs are accepted, it will be a nice step My Linh is one of the most popular singers in Vietnam an idol of all young Vietnamese As a little girl she dreamed of standing on the stage and singing for a large public Once an old man predicted that she would one day become happy and well-known Her songs are of all times about love about the cafe around the corner or about a visit to a temple Buddhism has a great influence on the people There are many Buddhists Most people believe if you do something good we will be blessed by the gods And we will have much happiness in our life It it good to believe that It is good for your internal peace I am as happy as my children to be a good Buddhist They also believe good deed will be rewarded Before I do something, I always ask myself it is good or not I try to do the good and go the right way I believe my children will then have much happiness I remember still very well the night of 16 April 1972 how the Americans bombed our city Hai Phong I wonder why the Americans would conquer my country Why they had to kill our people I knew one idea: The Americans are malicious In my husband’s family both his parents were killed His brother was shot dead as a child My husband lost his parents when he was five It would be very normal… if he had hateful feelings But I know my husband is a real Vietnamese He still feels the pain that his parents and brother was killed But still, he does not choose to hate the Americans It has to do with our religion and our East Asian way of life And that leads us to be able to forgive The Americans value that In particular the soldiers who did that in Vietnam It is difficult to explain why we can forgive The Europeans cannot forgive such things Vietnamese can although they can never forget the war It would be good if the Europeans also can forgive You must not hate too long, but you should also not forget Wars of centuries ago will be told to the children So they can have the determination to defend the country My parents said… how they were evacuated from the city during the war I was still young and I cannot remember anything But my parents always tell… how long they had to stand in queue to buy food You had to wait hours to buy small amount of rice I am now grown up, but I can hardly imagine about that time It is hard to feel how it is for the older generations But for us it is the past I have never felt how you would be treated then Therefore, I do not hate the enemies of that time The past plays no role any more to our generation I think America is a country of a good economy and many stars The country of Hollywood. That how we know about that country. I have a family, a daughter of two She waved me goodbye yesterday at the station When I was born, the war had just ended Three months before I was born, the last bullet was shot It surely brings up feelings, but I have not experienced that myself My father has. He was a soldier. He fought on many battle fields and joined the army at seventeen To him and many other soldiers… the victory brings up a feeling of pride That has nothing to do with the meaning of the war For him it is about honour He told me about the war with pride He did not talk about the nonsense of the war that I read about in the books neither about the many damages the war caused in all related countries He did not talk about the sorrow, either He just talked about his own experience When I grew up, I learned about the war deeper I saw how ruthless the war was Not only on the battle fields, but everywhere With a strong will, you can win over the pain of such a war That should also be the case regarding all that one has done against the other I do not think it is about the political struggle between governments I learned a lot about the war at school How the war has caused sorrow to many, like those… suffered from the burning… or suffered from the napalm People were also tortured I hate those who have done these things I hate the conquerers and the traitors of my motherland But I would like… that we live in peace forever that we love each other We must help each other and never wage war We should never again hurt other people I was then eight and remembered… how our soldiers… freed or city I was happy, and from that moment on it became better and better with us We could live in peace Now I do not think often of that time The past should stay in the past I always say that to my children We must let the past settle in peace I would like to become a teacher I would like to become an architect Why? I would like to pass all my knowledge to other children So that they can build our motherland later I will make my city so beautiful that it becomes a model There will be no more beggars I saw so many beggars in the train that I feel compassionate I would like to help beggars and orphans In my city Da Nang there will also be no more thieves We shall live in peace and happiness My city will be expanded and everyone will be happy There will be wealth, and there will be happy children Yes, the children can happily go to school to study The train from Hanoi has arrived… We ask the travellers to get onboard quickly Please prepare your ticket… for checking Please board the right train When the war ended… my grandparents went to America illegally That was in 1979 They could only leave the country illegally They tried three times. It was not easy. They only succeeded in the third time But now they want to return to Vietnam When you are old, it is better to live in your motherland They are retired and have enough money to live here I have also become an American I do everything… that an American must do But I was born in Vietnam and grew up here My strongest feelings are linked to my childhood Therefore I feel happier when I am with Vietnamese people Even when I live now in America If I meet an American or a Vietnamese… I feel more comfortable with the Vietnamese They are more familiar to me as if I have met him before I have worked since 1984 with the railway first on freight trains Then I was promoted and now I am the chief conductor I work every day, from 5 a.m. to 11 at night I must solve all problems on the train On the train I am the one who must always be there Even when I sleep, I must find a solution I must make the decision Between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. I can take some rest When that is the case, my substitute will be responsible But he still should keep my informed Then I will see if I must get up or not Only when nothing happens at night, I can sleep quietly When I started working at the railway… it took 72 hours to travel from north to south Then it became 56 hours, 52 hours and 48 hours Now it takes only 30 hours This railway is built during the colonial time from Saigon to Hanoi But during the war with America, the country was split into two The railway was broken up at the 17th latitude After the war and reunification… the line was reopened This train is now called the Reunification Express a train that connects the north with the south In 1976, the train ran again for the first time The northern and southern Vietnam are again linked together From then on, it is called the Reunification Express The neighbourhood messages of Friday afternoon The staff have, with all residents… cleaned all streets and sewarage The following residents have not taken part in… Hang Dao Street 46, 68 and 88 They have, instead of cleaning up their own garbage… formed a gang They left everything to the garbage collector As a result, the street becomes filthy. We must learn a lesson from it Please put no moped on the sidewalk Shoppers should put their goods inside… not outside on the sidewalk These are bad examples for all of us It has a negative impact on our young people I understand during the development of our country… good and bad things happen Take the girls in our city as an example Before you never saw them smoking or drinking Now they do everything without thinking about others Also, I do not think it necessary… that they immediately go to bed with foreigners We call those girls who do that, taxigirls They quickly became lovers like what people do in the west Here in Vietnam, we do not have such traditions They were taken from the west The girls sleep with everyone before getting married The lovers pick them here Just like what they say in English: My choice It is indeed the fastest way… to get money out of tourists’ pockets I absolutely do not like it They take drugs such as heroine and ecstasy In the past, people did not know about them They now can be bought everywhere You can get them in many disco’s and bars There are also much more crimes For me, these are the bad sides of the tourism development In the past, Nha Trang was just an insignificant fishing village No foreigners came here, and the world is far away Over the past years, this place has developed into an attractive seaside resort that attracts more and more tourists from the west Almost everyone in Nha Trang is taking English lessons It is the prerequisite to find a job Nok works with this English diving company I am not shy. When my father was alive… he taught a little English When he saw tourists, he said: Talk with them in English At that time I knew no more than hello and goodbye But I never stopped contacting the tourists, like the others in my village I would love to learn more English But when my father died, I had to work and earn money Here at Rainbow, I learned many new words With the foreigners, I must keep talking in English My English is therefore better and better Through contact with the foreigners… I also became more self-conscious Passengers should prepare for the departure Be careful of the departing train The train to Saigon is soon leaving Please board the train quickly Passengers on board the train please sit down so that the train may depart safely When I travel by train… I have much time to think That is important In Vietnam, we say every travel day adds to your experience I always look out of the windows on both sides Whether anything has changed along the railways For me, these changes… are the harvest of our hard working I am a little older So you think more often about the past When you grow older, you think how the past was Here we mostly think about the war at that time During the war, I often cam here, too There are now only memories, sad and beautiful In my life, I also had luck I experienced a lot in the war I stood eye to eye with the dead, but I have survived Should I be happy or sad? I think that was my destiny You cannot escape it; therefore, we call it your destiny Christians believe that one is predestined We Buddhists say piety will be rewarded Time goes past me, but I have nothing to complain Though people I loved died in the war… They were killed in different places Sometimes I am overpowered by the war memories But then I always look for something new that makes me happy It is called moving on, but I will naturally not forget the past That time has definitely gone But each time I think back on the war… I only want to be active. Look forward. In this way I make the sad past a little softer A worship service of the followers of the Caodaism Two times a day, this omniscient eye appears symbol of the supreme being The Caodaism spreads mostly here in southern Vietnam The religion has about 2 million followers The colours represents the religions that are brought together in Caodaism Red for Christianity Yellow for Buddhism And blue for Taoism Caodaism will not compete with any religion Caodaism is not a mixture of many religions We take over only the best of other religions Each religion has its own good things All that is good… will be taken over in this religion We adpat it in our way We do not want to simply mix the religions We only take the best So is it I have here a text that you may call our bible It is the basis of our religion The book decribes how to practice Caodaism How other religions are practiced is not my business But this goes with Caodaism This book is followed by Caodaists The train symbolically connects the north and the south I am happy that our conflicts are left behind us We should not think about it any more My brother had to join the army due to this war He was killed. It is a big loss. It leaves me in pain, but now the north and the south are united All of us have the same rights No country is occupying us The north is still totally different from the south We speak the same language But our lifestyles are completely different It is just different He is right. We have another way of life. But a country is just like a family Or like a hand with short and long fingers Like the fingers, our lifestyles are different Still I think we… after 20 years of separation between 1954 and 1975… are now again completely united Of course, we must deal with the consequences of the war Our country is always busy with that We must put down hate You always need forgiveness and grace for it That is the only way to further develop our country It is just like climbing a mountain. You will come to obstacles. But we will succeed in reaching the top The train is approaching Ho Chi Minh City So is the name of the former capital of South Vietnam For her residents, the city will perhaps always be called Saigon Here is the end of the Vietnamese railways and this Reunification Express What I found the most surprising of this journey… was the forgiveness of the Vietnamese people They have so many hope for a better future To reach it, there must be peace Everyone is looking for contact with the rest of the world also with the former enemy America In the beginning, I thought… the Vietnamese people only out of courtesy because I am a foreigner, that talked with me… in such friendly forgiving words But the more I heard the more I was convinced… that the Vietnamese people indeed are forgiving Saigon Here is the heart of Vietnam’s economic life 30 years after the last Americans fled with hands on the head Now 6 million Vietnamese live in this metropolis On my way to the Cambodian border almost nothing refers to the war or to the old enemies But this area was once the battle ground destroyed and poisoned by bombs and napalms That is a good shot. It looks great. Cu Chi is the name of the former battle ground With one dollar per bullet, you can shoot here with the machine gun Together with my interpreter I am on the way to one of the tunnels of the former Vietcong army war as a tourist attraction I will show you a secret entrance that was used by the Vietcong to get down to the tunnel Just big enough for the Vietcong soldiers It’s too small for American soldiers to get down From here it is easy for the Vietcong to go to everywhere The total length of the tunnel in this area is about 250 kilometers They had to come down one by one. Look at me. I’ll show you how to get down during fighting. You have to turn first like this And the camouflage Watch your head please. Be careful. Left right here Watch your head please Watch your head please. Turn right here. One shot for one dollar. One bullet for one dollar. One shot, five people die It’s shaking I think shooting here is not good. This was once a battle ground. This is so cool. Many lost their loves ones here. You should not shoot here. We are still looking for the bodies of the dead We cannot find them They are lying somewhere under the ground but we do not know where They cannot rest in peace It is painful I don’t want that It is painful That’s it? All right It’s so cool You feel good? In this area around Cu Chi, 12,000 people died Their souls are still roaming here today They are longing for eternal rest We, the young generation, cannot forget them The war is gone It is forgiveness but not forget The new era is waiting I arrived at the border station Moc Bai In front of me lies Cambodia Train Journey From the East
The Route of Forgiveness

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