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PostVisit to Vietnam (Robert Crow, US) (John Eipper, USA, 05/19/06 1:20 pm)
Robert Crow writes: Recently, Ronald Hilton asked me to give an account of a vacation that I took with my family and friends to Vietnam. What instantly flashed in my mind as I thought of a WAIS-length account was a college freshman assignment to write a pr cis of Thucydides Peloponnesian Wars. In this nutshell rendition, I will focus on impressions rather than description. If anyone is interested, I will be happy to go into more detail or try to address issues not covered here. We went to Vietnam only because my daughter is a U.S. Foreign Service Officer in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). I am of an age that, had I served, I would have probably been a captain or a sergeant in the Vietnam War. Thus, I was a bit leery of the reception I would get. However, we were always treated amiably. Optimism and putting the past in the past seem to be Vietnamese traits. There was much less evidence of its authoritarian government in the form of uniformed personnel than in China. If I did not know that its economic core is communist, I would never have guessed. From the tourist s superficial perspective, the economy is overwhelmingly free-wheeling capitalist. One did not have the feeling that the government was particularly oppressive in either politics or economics, but we did not attempt to engage in provocative political conversation. Industry and services are booming in the major cities, but agriculture is still traditional in practices and technology. I have visited almost all countries in east and south Asia: mile for mile, Vietnam is the most beautiful. Its coastline is longer than that of California, so it has a variety of climates and environs. We had a seven-person private tour and sampled the country pretty thoroughly, from Sapa in the northern mountains to the Mekong Delta. The scenery was often spectacular, and food and accommodations were excellent: I have never eaten so well on a trip, including several to France. Saigon and Hanoi are prototypical Asian great cities scooters and chaos, but clean and safe. We also went to Siem Reap in Cambodia to visit Angkor Wat and environs spectacular beyond all expectations, reasonably safe, and really geared up for a tourist explosion. It is difficult to serve the two masters of brevity and richness; but I will be happy to expand on my comments, either privately or through WAIS.
RH: WAIS would welcome more details. Surely the French should be given some credit for the beauty of the major cities?