Friday, 10 February 2012

Nam … Communist ?! Socialist?! Capitalist?!

I have always wanted to visit Vietnam, not bucket list like the Northern lights ... but high on the agenda, images of pristine country sides, terraced rice paddies, bamboo hats, unusual food, cheap massages and service always with a smile, trips up the Mekong, sounds romantic eh?!

Well sadly my bubble was burst … There were elements of course that were amazing, but whilst the country is communist, run by a party calling itself socialist, capitalism has well and truly arrived.  The construction is 10 times greater than Dubai 7 years ago and the requests and expectations to tip is even greater than the states …  don’t get me wrong there are elements that are beautiful, but overall I was slightly underwhelmed.... why ?

The blog does most recent post first ... but given google cancelled me... I am now doing about 20 blogs in one ... as a result I am posting oldest first read below for more Vietnam including Mekong and Cambodia.
Now, I arrived in Nam during Tet (Lunar New Year),  I was advised just before I left that I was the worst kind of luck for Vietnamese at this time, over a certain age, single female is apparently worse luck than someone that has lost relatives throughout the previous year, and as a result I was advised not to be offended if I was not invited into homes … WTF!!
The thing that impacted me the most in Vietnam however was difference in thought between the folk of the North and South.  The war between north and South Vietnam is still deep in the thoughts of those today, especially as it is still the current generation that were impacted.  The south (Saigon) HCMC and supported by America and allies v the North and communist Russia.  Despite the damage done especially in the south and the use of Agent Orange, the southerners I spoke with were devastated when the war ended, when America withdrew and when the country fell under communist rule.  You can see the old European influence in HCMC today, before the communist party took over post war, the country was liberal, progressive and dynamic,  despite now being under communist rule for 30 years, the place is more advanced, service is better, attitudes more liberal and there is a real want to progress. When the north conquered the south overnight children were removed from school if they had ties to the south Vietnamese army, families lost their fathers as they were put into camps for re-education for years to become communist, women could no longer work, rationing was implemented.  Even today a policeman cannot marry a woman if she has had ties to the Sth Vietnamese army.  In 1986 Vietnam opened its doors to travel and foreign investment and now capitalism has really taken hold like I mention above.  (Not to mention Vietnam ranking something like 5th on world corruption tables) The Americans get condemned for entering Vietnam, yet what makes me sad, is that the whole war was to prevent capitalism and western ideals and remain communist, yet only a few years on… how did the Vietnamese communists become the worlds’ biggest capitalist!??  what was the point … hummpphhh ….  political rant over… now to the holiday ..

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