I came away from Vietnam with the impression that the south has prospered more than the north, although the latter won the war. Saigon seems to be bustling with more foreign investments. A visitor from another planet would not guess that the country had suffered from decades of war, unless it (I’m assuming gender is an Earthling problem) signed on for a tour of the Cu Chi tunnels upon visiting Saigon.
Like the United States, Vietnam battled a revolution (actually more than one or a long-standing one to rid themselves of Chinese, French, Japanese, and American occupiers) and a civil war (because of foreign meddling in their revolution). In both cases, the northern side won. Unlike in the US, where the southern rural economy languished and northerners plundered rather than aided development, Vietnam’s south seems to have benefited from benevolent treatment by the victors.
Of course, this is merely an impression gained from a fleeting visit and from outward impressions. The north is not suffering, as witnessed by many foreign factories, all exploiting cheap labor. Motorbikes clog the roads, with car sales being restrained by prohibitive tariffs. People seem happy, and government criticism is tolerated, which one does not expect in a communist country.
Hanoi and Saigon have always been different cities, each stamped by history. The stamping continues, which is evident to any visitor. Saigon looks like a booming Asian capital, while Hanoi retains the feel of its colonial past. Saigon wins the building crane contest. Perhaps, better river navigation has always aided Saigon.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.