Vietnam...a word that reminds me of numerous movies, classes taught in high school and college, papers written in retrospect, a word that I could never fully comprehend and although I've now seen a glimpse of what it encompasses, I can only begin to imagine what Vietnam means to the thousands of people from the US that were involved in the Vietnam War.
We arrived in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) by sailing up the Mekong River. The landscape alongside the river at first was green jungle/trees as far as the eye could see. Muddy brown water lapping up on the visibly vacant muddy shore.
There were little blue fishing boats moored in the river, presumably awaiting the fishermen that lived amongst the large expanse of jungle along the shore. As we reached Saigon, there were more fishing villages, large factories, transport ships, and barges rushing up and down the river taking exports out of
Our first day in
Now...the thing I found most difficult to keep in mind was that
However, compared to Cambodians, the Vietnamese are very entrepreneurial people. Our guide spoke English very well and told us a lot of about the "flexibility" of the Vietnamese government. Apart from his job as a guide, he also had a dry cleaning service to offer the hotel guests a more economic dry cleaning option as well as he had met a tourist from Michigan who had a boutique at home, and he acted as a middle man purchasing silk embroidered purses for her and took part of the profit selecting them and sending them to her to sell in the US. And apparently the government doesn't intervene at all in his businesses. Our guide told us so much that I can't even begin to reiterate in this e-mail, but basically the average age of a Vietnamese person is my age ....between 27-30 years old. And the majority of them want to make money, they strive to be successful, and they recognize that a Communist society will defeat those goals. However, they are able to live and accept a life of duplicity...a contradictory one at that.
They are ruled by a Communist government but operate under Capitalist ambitions. This is what they call "flexible".
The most affecting experience we had while in
After our visit to Saigon, we went to Nha Trang yesterday, which is a very pretty beach city in the middle of the