Welcome in Vietnam,
Yesterday evening Naomi and me arrived in Vietnam,
On the way to Bangkok airport, I was a bit drowsy and I sort of dozed away…I opened my eyes, saw all the traffic, modern buildings
and thought: Am I already in VN?
This thought would have been impossible some 20 years ago, when I came for the first time to Vietnam! I remember stepping out of the plane and arriving in a totally different world.
My first visit was in 1991, just two years after the fall of the Berlin wall. Vietnam at this time was still totally isolated internationally. Their only allies, the Russian’s and Cuban’s were almost the only foreigners in the country. With
each step you were reminded of the "Vietnam War". The scars of the war were visible everywhere,
There were NO cars, just a few motorbikes, mainly bicycles, very bad narrow roads, all bridges were still destroyed from the war. The country was still so
poor. People wore military clothes and helmets and the so beautiful vietnamese women wore like soviet style suits...
By the way I remember walking in Hue in the street in 1991 and a crowd of kids surrounded me “singing” Lien
Xo..Lien XO…I guess this meant: “soviet”…with my blond hair they took me for a Russian lady…
In 1991 at the customs, in the airport, it still felt like a “military airport”. Everyone looked
at you with suspicion, very stern, no one smiled. We were checked from top to toe, had to fill out piles of declarations: how many CD’s, books, we bring, (the books and cd's were checked and some confiscated!) how much gold (they almost did not let us
bring out our wedding rings as we had forgotten to declare them when coming in the country) etc . The atmosphere was oppressive, like a coat of fear and suspicion was hanging over the country…
I told Naomi, there were like newspaper
“dealers” walking around at night in the streets as foreign news were forbidden and you had to buy “le Monde” “Herald Tribune”like drugs…hiding from the police… it was scary..
Son Nhat airport is a modern and efficient airport! NO visa declarations needed anymore if you got your visa in your country before hand! The customs and immigration formalities are quick and efficient, and I usually get a great smile from the immigration
officers when they see my name HA Vinh, and when I say a few words in Vietnamese to them!
We drove to our hotel which is in Dong Khoi street…We sat at night on the rooftop overlooking the river, enjoying the nice temperature, the
charming atmosphere and we were amazed by all the construction sites and all the new huge buildings everywhere!
I come two to three times a year to VN since 1991. Everytime I stay 1-3 days in Saigon, and every time the street, the district
I have walked in just 4 months ago has totally changed! New skyscapers, new shops, NEW EVERYTHING! Even some places were there was a new building some 5 years ago the building has been torn down again and an even newer building built instead!
who has been here in 2004 cannot recognize the city! She is amazed!
Yes Saigon is becoming more and more like Bangkok, skyscrapers, traffic jam etc…but it has this very elegant, so dynamic and stylish flair that makes Saigon so
unique! I really do like Saigon!
Today we just strolled around, visiting friends and family, enjoying every moment! For me it is a coming home:)