Viet Nam et de son économie intérieure réussie.Perspective
Việt Nam và nền kinh tế thành công của nước mình.Written by Imelda V. Abaño
Thursday, 03 September 2009 21:17
HANOI—More than 35 years have passed since this once-troubled land started the long road to peace after a devastating war that left it triumphant over a world power, yet left its land scarred by bombs and so many of its people wounded or orphaned. For many years after the war, Vietnam as a destination was relatively unknown. But a new generation of entrepreneurs, artists, store owners and local businessmen is eager to make the country a serious player in the modern world.
The country is changing fast. Apart from China, it has the fastest annual growth rate in Asia. Vietnam is now the world’s second-largest exporter of both rice and coffee. The country is still nominally communist, and its leaders remain socially conservative, but young Vietnamese are rising, absorbing and remixing global culture.
Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, its two most famous tourist places, are packed with young adults on any given day, and now boast of numerous developments compared to a decade ago. Food stalls are everywhere, vegetables and meat abundant and fresh. There are also many karaoke bars and shopping venues.
These two cities are noisy, chaotic, crowded and lively, especially during rush hour, when motor bikes and cyclos account for much of the traffic, and the honking of horns is unimaginable. Crossing busy Vietnam streets with a degree of calm takes years for one to practice.
Data from the Ministry of Transport in Hanoi show that in the first six months of 2009, there were 5,827 road deaths and nearly 4,000 injuries.
Of course, in both cities—and throughout Vietnam—the most devoted crowds may be found in sidewalk cafés where locals and tourists alike are seated at plastic tables half a meter off the ground, drinking bia hoi or draft beer and eating pho, a Vietnamese national dish made of rice noodles topped with beef or chicken and spiked with ginger, cinnamon stick, onion sleek and fish sauce.
Hanoi, the capital of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, is an elegant city located on the banks of the Red River with tranquil Hoan Kiem Lake at its heart. The majestic lake is comparable to Baguio City’s Burnham Lake, except for the weather which is hot, humid and often rainy.
Hanoi’s population of more than 4 million is constantly growing, a reflection of the fact that the city is both the economic heart of northern Vietnam and also the country’s political center.
The streets are always alive and bustling. Economic activity starts at 6 a.m. with restaurants opening for breakfast, shopkeepers getting ready for the day, and street vendors arranging their wares.
The local tourist industry does cater to “war tourism,” but the overwhelming sensation you come away with is that this is a country more preoccupied with the present and the future than the past.
The bustling streets of the famous Old Quarter are among the most attractive tourist sites in the city for both domestic and foreign visitors. Young and old local businessmen sell their wares, from bags, clothing, shoes, paintings and souvenir items.
The rising Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon, is the most important city in Vietnam after Hanoi. There are many rising luxurious hotels, karaoke bars, fast-food restaurants and shopping venues.
The Filipino fast-food icon Jollibee can also be easily spotted in the heart of Ho Chi Minh. Although it is run by a Filipino businessman, not a single worker is Filipino. There are nine branches of Jollibee in Ho Chi Minh.
Like any part of Vietnam, there are many traces of war in this city. The War Remnants Museum has some truly chilling exhibits of pictures during the war. But the most notable building is the Reunification Palace, which was constructed to be the home of President Ngo Dinh.
The building is a symbolic part of the fall of Saigon, when Viet Cong tanks crashed straight through its gates. Though it was a presidential palace in the past, today it functions as a museum. The palace was one of the predominant symbols of the South Vietnamese regime, but today it still serves as a symbol for the reunified country. Visitors can tour the private quarters, dining rooms, entertainment lounges, conference halls, communications equipment and old maps, casinos as well as the president’s office.
Not far from the Reunification Palace is the Ben Thanh market, a crowded, lively indoor market in downtown Saigon catering to local and foreign tourists. Here one can find cheap shoes, bags, T-shirts, pants, silk scarves, caps, fruits and other souvenir items.
The floating life
A visit to Vietnam is not complete without seeing the floating market in Can Tho City in the South—a bustling confusion of boats, goods, vendors and tourists. The biggest floating markets in the delta are Hang Be Market in Tien Giang Province, the Phung Hiep Market in Can Tho and the market in Cai Rang.
Each morning, hundreds of junks and small boats congregate, with all trades taking place on the water. Vendors typically hang samples of their wares from a bar set above the boat’s roof to attract customers, while their stock is stored below deck. They carry mostly fruits but also coconuts, vegetables and fishes. Durian, rambutan, pineapple, jackfruit and other kinds of fruits as well as vegetables are tied over the junk’s roof. Many Vietnamese live on their boats, traveling throughout the delta. At the back of the boats, life on the water is mirrored by the sight of people cooking or washing their clothes.
Like many people in a country undergoing so much change, Von Thuy Bihn, 28, is worried about his country’s future.
“We wanted foreign tourists to come and see the beauty of Vietnam,” he said. “But if the cultural atmosphere in our city is destroyed because of too much modernization, I don’t know what to say.”