Using our Dong in Vietnam

Trip Start Apr 30, 2006
Trip End Mar 25, 2007

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Thursday, December 28, 2006

Vietnam. Chinese influence, a long history of war, deep traditions, and a hard-working society make this long, narrow country a great one to visit. However, as an American in Vietnam you cannot help but feel a bit uneasy. This feeling does not stem from any leftover animosity that the people currently have towards us. It's self-induced. As you walk around the streets you'll be guaranteed to see people disfigured from Agent Orange (The defoliant (super-weed killer) that the U.S. poured over the land to reveal Viet Cong (VC) movements). An estimated 3 million birth defects occurred directly because of the 21 million gallons of Agent Orange we scattered throughout the country. You'll notice men, women and children missing limbs from volatile unexploded bombs dropped 30 years ago, and in general, a country just now able to get its feet on the ground after years of devastating war.

But Americans now travel through Vietnam without any issues. So why are the Vietnamese so friendly with Americans even after we unloaded our entire military arsenal on their small country? Our theory: They are just glad to be done with war. They've been fighting someone (Chinese, French, America, Japan) since the late 1800's. One Vietnamese man told us "War has been going on for over 100 years..... the American war only lasted for 15 years. You guys were easy". The Vietnamese don't refer to the American-Vietnam war as we do in the states (The Vietnam War) - they refer to it as the American war - a war in which they defeated the world superpower quite decisively. They are a proud people and have reason to be. They have been invaded, fought and eventually won every foreign invasion for the last millennium.

From a traveling standpoint, Vietnam is not a relaxing destination. There's a strong Chinese influence so you get the spitters and hawkers; the trash on the streets and the "interesting" street food dangling from the stalls. The people are not the most friendly in the world, the scenery is not that distinctive and their are more motos on the streets than deep fried chicken feet (which are also abundant). Sound good? It is.... in the same way China is a amazing destination. The culture is very different from our culture, the food is incredible, traveling is cheap and the affects of history are tangible and apparent in everyday life. We spent a total of 2 weeks in Vietnam, 10 days of which we were with our good friend Von Johnner Goforth. Amazing portion of our trip.

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