Twenty years after the north and south Vietnam reunion, capitalism dominates everywhere. Large advertisements about Heineken, San Miguel, Daewoo or Tide welcomes the visitor at the airport, where promotion of western goods runs parallel with warning- campaigns against AIDS.
In Hanoi, some 1100 miles north of Saigon, people does'nt go only to look at the -Hanoi-Hilton-, (famous Hoa-Lo Prison) where American POW's has been tortured, but this days it is possible the visit the local 'Hard Rock Café' as well.
Between buffaloes on the ricepaddies, where about 70% from the 75 million Vietnamese earn their -Dongs- (local currency) and the small grave monuments kept honored, farmers keep carrying buckets of water just the same way as centuries ago.
In contrast to the north where Vietnamese people occupies the streets with a cone-shaped hat or green Giap-helmet, colorful American caps are the favorites in the streets of Saigon. North and South Vietnam is covered these days with Karaoke bars, some of them with female hostesses.
On a boat trip along the Perfumed River in Hué, an American military thermo-bottle with inscription: 1968 lays on the bottom of the boat. But for the real stuff you got to be in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) again. Nowhere throughout the country there's such a huge assortment available as in the Dan Sinh-bazaar. From outside,it looks like a market about Motorcycles and car-parts. But inside the top-covered streets, the whole arsenal from the sixties is on sale. Gas masks, radio transmittors, army belts, airplane equipment, helmets, battleshoes, armyseals, mosquito-nets...It all looks similar which we saw in 1991 at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. But this collection has sometimes very personal remembrances as well: nameplates, family pictures or letters.
The French people still looks at Vietnam as it is a little bit their backyard, and they all wanna spend the night at the Ha Long Bay Hotel in the colonial atmosphere of room 208, where Catherine Deneuve resides during the making of the movie Indochine. But the reality is that French as a the second language quickly dissapears and has to make place for English. Officially, the country is still socialistic, but the connected private-owned shops along the main roads of the cities showing that their is no return to the early days anymore. The capitalism came back between a large amount of the Vietnamese population.
At His Mausoleum in Hanoi, large groups of students waiting in line to honor Ho Chi Minh, the Father of the Fatherland. At the universities, they still study a Vietnamese version of the marxism-leninism. But the enthousiasm of the students goes to the non-Asian languages en to the American technics of bookkeeping. A monthly salary in Hanoi is between 50 and 100 USD. But a well-educated person would be paid by the western company till ten times the amount.
In Saigon even double.
Highly recommended: Vietnam Hints & Tips - A good example of a full-exploration tour plus more. Go see it! Click the Hints & Tips image below.