Source : Google photo of Vietnam today
When I was 22, I went to Vietnam to serve as a volunteer agronomist to work with the farmers and try to improve their agricultural practices and introduce new high yielding rice varieties developed in other countries. That was in 1967 when the country was being devastated by the never ending war imposed on them by the Americans.
There were more than 500000 Americans in Vietnam at that time fighting a war the Vietnamese never wanted but had no choice but to fight the foreigners for their freedom. They had successfully fought the French and ousted them in the battle of Dien Bien Phu but now in 1967 they were fighting a much more powerful enemy that was well equipped and well supplied with arms and ammunition but the brave Vietnamese kept on fighting with their meager resources and sheer will to fight.
The whole world condemned the Americans for the war on a poor hapless country so there were worldwide demonstrations against the war but the war was to last many more years causing many more deaths on both sides and widespread destruction everywhere. I arrived in the middle of the war and saw the death, destruction, misery , the poverty, the prostitution, the drug abuse, domestic life disruption , desperation to seek a solution , constant danger from bombs, grenade attacks, helicopter attacks and the daily bombing of the country by the B 52 bombers that I never saw but heard the sound of explosions during the night.
At first I was sent to Long Xuyen to learn the Vietnamese language and later I was sent to Tay Ninh province to work there in the Agriculture office so I started working in various parts of the province where I was allowed to work. There were many areas where it was too dangerous for me to work but in fact no part of the province was really safe as I have mentioned in my biography in the Vietnam chapter so you can read it all there .
Many years later I went back to Vietnam to see how the country had developed and rebuilt its war torn economy and infrastructure so I was very pleasantly surprised when I arrived one night with my wife in Ho Chi Minh City that I knew as Saigon before.
I had never seen Saigon from the air at night before but now I could see a vast city with lights and neons that was so impressive. On the ground at the new air terminal the formalities were quickly completed and we stepped out to take a short taxi ride to our hotel that was near the Ben Thanh market. The parks were clean and very well maintained. The streets were clean and there was no sign of war like conditions that I recalled back in 1967. There were no American soldiers anywhere because the country was now peaceful with a dynamic government that was making all efforts to develop the country at a break neck speed.
I knew Saigon well in those days so I could see the changes . It was like a total transformation but many old places still remained like the presidential palace that we visited which is now a museum . We saw the Saigon cathedral, the BenThanh market and Xa Loi pagoda etc. There are new highways in all directions . The road to TayNinh was now a wide highway that brought us to the Cao Dai temple there but I saw many new office buildings in Cu Chi, Go Dau Ha and all along the road . The road to Phnom Penh was now also a wide highway and a new bridge has been built on the river in Go Dau Ha. I used to live in that village but it has been transformed into a well developed small town. There was no sign of any barbed wire enclave where the American troops used to stay .The fields on both sides were now green and well cultivated.
In CanTho in the Delta there was a big bridge under construction on the wide Mekong river there which I am sure has now been completed so you can drive to any part of the delta. CanTho used to be an ugly town but now it is clean and has beautiful riverside parks, wide roads, new hotels and new everything.
We passed through Long Xuyen on our way to Chau Doc and were amazed at the transformation of the whole area. There were markets and new buildings all the way from Can Tho to Long Xuyen and beyond. Chau Doc itself has been changed into a modern metropolis with lights and parks everywhere.
When we traveled to Dalat in the central highlands by bus, the roads were excellent and we could see kilometers of coffee plantations on the hill sides, orchards and gardens to show how industrious the Vietnamese were. Dalat itself has many modern hotels and good facilities where new parks near the lake are full of flowers and ornamental shrubs.
I took many photos that I made into a power point that I present here to show the new Vietnam that is so impressive. It is now growing its GDP at a fast rate so people are enjoying prosperity that you can see. There are thousands of mopeds, motorbikes and scooters everywhere that young people born after the war are seen riding. It is a good thing they did not experience the war that I saw when I was only 22 but the older generation remembers the sacrifices it made in order to win the war.
1.Power point Remember Vietnam
3. Vietnam today part two
These three power points are self explanatory so share them with anyone if you like them.
Here is a clip from the Oliver Stone’s award winning film called Heaven and Earth based on a true story of a girl in Vietnam during the war.
Source : U tube video .
Note : My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese languages at the following links as well as my biography: