Saturday, August 12, 2017

Vietnamese Contradictions - the contradictory treatment of foreign tourists Part I

Besides the propaganda everywhere I had the feeling that every day life is quite unaffected by the ideology, the past wars and the differences between people.
No hard feelings towards American tourists. When I asked about the attitude towards the once colonialist French, the guy, and it was no dummy at all, didn't even get the question. So forgiveness - or forgetting - there, too.

mural shooting of a Viet Cong
"Communist from Dresden" or not - what I certainly do no like, is people shooting others holding the gun about five inches from their head. This mural depicts one of the three synonyms of war cruelty: There is the dying soldier by Frank Capa, there is Nick Ut's picture of Phan Thị Kim Phúc running naked from napalm, and there is this picture of South Vietnamese police chief Nguyễn Ngọc Loan shooting Viet Cong member Nguyễn Văn Lém in the temple, photographed by Eddie Adams.  

Today they are even some branches of American chains like McDonalds, Starbucks and Co.; thank God – or whoever is responsible in this part of planet earth – only very few of them and mainly in Ho Chi Minh City and some highly touristy spots like Nha Trang. Because it's absurd to bring fast food to the cradle of street food and a coffee chain to the second largest coffee exporting country.
Funny: You would think now that the country tolerates this beacon of imperialist capitalism, they can slowly take down the red flags and save a lot of money fort the extensive propaganda, but now, they exist side by side.

And I had to learn it the hard way that not everybody is that chilled when it comes to political ideas and the past.

It was on my two day trip to the Mekong Delta that I took with a bunch of tourists guided by a rather unpleasant Vietnamese guide. On the bus he asked who calls HCMC Ho Chi Minh City and who calls it Saigon. I’m not even sure whether the other people understood the ulterior motives of this question, however, I raised my hand to Ho Chi Minh City – it’s the present official name, after all. „Are you communist?“ the guy barked at me over the microphone. I’m sure that besides one Vietnamese lady who had migrated to the US many years ago and was for the first time back to her native country nobody really got what was going on and why.
„I’m not answering that question“, I answered the question.
„Do you like communism, or do you like freedom?“ the tourist guide insisted - over the microphone in front of everybody.
Golly, I wish the answer was a teeny bit as easy as the question.
And in that very moment I wished the tourist guide was there to make my vacation pleasant instead of making me feel uncomfortable – for calling this damn city by ist damn correct, official name.
„Are you from the GDR? Are you from Dresden“ I didn’t even pay attention to him anymore.

That much for how relaxed things seem to be - you cannot even call a city by its name without being categorized.

What surprises me, though, is that someone who is working as an official guide with tourists can be that openly a communist country plastered with propaganda.

Wanna read a precis on Viet Nam's recent history? I added it to my travel infos.

To get the complete travel info on Viet Nam just click here.

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