just a few of my impressions
so much energy, so many people, all the young people out at night, in big city saigon and tiny chao dac, the kids are cruising on their motorbikes, girls and boys, sometimes as couples, sometimes one on a bike... zoom zoom, the air is warm and moist, the streets are full of action. it is a country full of young people, full of families with 2 and 3 kids, everyone wants a better future, sees a chance to do better than their parents did. not yet so rich, but hoping for more. there are too many people for too few jobs, young men lounge on their motorbikes, hoping to do taxi duty.. everyone has a small side business, maybe selling boat rides, or taking tourists on tour, or promoting some business... but for a country that was devastated by years of war and then by embargo, there has been enormous progress to a modern economy where everyone has enough to eat, a cell phone, and now even a motorbike...
people express friendship toward the US, seeing the difference between the people and the past government actions. yes, we are now friends.. but there is anger still at the legacy of the war, the lasting and still acting effects of agent orange, of dioxin, the poisoned land and poisoned soldiers who fathered deformed children.. the children are grown ups now, but still the dioxin persists. 10 years ago clinton promised help, but not much has been done. do we even know what to do to fix the problems? only recently did we even acknowledge that american soldiers were also sickened by the chemicals... it is so much easier to destroy than it is to build.
the government seems to want to encourage business. met a fellow on the boat to cambodia, said he and his family are here to set up sending "silage", food for dairy cows, from alberta canada to VN! and if it looks like it will work, the government will be one of the investors... not enough land here to grow alfalfa, and the cows are just eating farm leftovers, so they aren't producing much milk... he thinks that they will make enough more milk to justify shipping hay to vietnam... says the soldiers don't have strong bones and teeth, not enough calcium as kids... i think it is a very odd, probably bad idea... not so local to ship alfalfa!! there must be other ways to get calcium that would be a lot more ecological, or at least logical!!