Heads or Tails

Yesterday we visited the Reunification Palace in Saigon, also known as the Independence Palace. First built as a Franco-colonial Governor’s Palace in the 19th century, it’s had a storied history – including being the location of the end of the Vietnam War.

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The reception room for the First Lady.

 It’s been kept in the state it was in when that war ended in 1975. A place where time stands still as new Saigon grows up around it – opulent upholstery, carpeting, artworks and bunkers intact in all their 1960s glory. A monument to the transience of power.

The President's War Room, a small desk, a couple of old telephones, a few yellowing maps on the walls, all located several stories below the Palace in a concrete bunker.
The President’s War Room, a small desk, a couple of old telephones, a few yellowing maps on the walls, all located several stories below the Palace in a concrete bunker.

What caught my eye in particular was this wall of animal trophies – elephant feet, antlers, antelope skulls replete with the animals’ tails emerging from their mouths like strange, tufted noses.

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Stale symbols of another, ongoing kind of dominance.