I was invited to Vietnam by my couchsufing friend Anh which I had met in Japan in 2015. She invited me to stay in Vietnam with her family and introduced me to her friends. This was a very special opportunity for me, only few people have that chance.
Coming from China I reached Ho Chi Minh City for a visa free stay of 14 days. It’s very simple: you show your ticket, get a stamp and a remark for the last date of departure.
My Vietnamese Biography
I was influenced in my Biography very much by the Vietnam War. In 1968 and later our political consciousness in the student’s movement developed. We were upset about the American aggression and the inhuman consequences. We had many manifestations and protests saying, the Americans don’t fight in our name and don’t defend our democracy at the Mekong as they pretended. Many of us became communists because of the American policy.
I remembered well so many places like Da Nang, My Lai, Saigon and others.
Visiting the former South Vietnamese President’s palace ( now Reunification Palace) I recalled the news reports, knew the locations and the roof from where so many people tried to escape at the end of the war hanging at the helicopter skids.Napalm, Agent Orange, mass killings, burning people, brutal forces… All these memories came up in me.
The Vietnamese and the American War
Young Vietnamese seem to know the war like my generation felt the Second World War a peace of history. Their knowledge about it is not very detailed. The generation of active participants don’t like to talk. The consequences are still alive for many people, even in the youngest generation. Many families suffer from genetic defects caused by Agent Orange.
In Hanoi we visited the Ho Chi Minh museum. „Uncle Ho“ was an important man for us as students. So I was little disappointed about the exhibition. The good side: not a Stalin or Mao like heroism. But his life is shown as a mass of protocols and papers. Not much the background I had expected.
Just watch this video
I guess more than 20 times more motor scooters than cars are on the Vietnamese streets. For a Westerner no traffic rules are visible. Everyone tries to be the first. It reminds me the traffic in Italy or France 50 years back – but with many more participants. A scooter is often used like a transporter. up to 4 people, complete families, wide screen TVs…
Main means of transportations are taxis and couchette buses for the long distances.
I’ve driven rent cars in many countries. In Vietnam I couldn’t. Even statistics say it is one of the most dangerous countries with many deaths every year. Our flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Thanh Hoá in a thunderstorm seemed to be much safer than the short distance by taxi to the house.
I’m very thankful for Anh’s family at Tây Ninh and later near Thanh Hóa. They accepted me like one of them. I had the impression of being very welcome. The many children played with me and I taught them English pronunciation.
I joined the everyday with them, shared the delicious food, the jokes and happiness. Verbal conversation was difficult sometimes, but with gestures and some laughters we did it.
The family structure is much different from ours like in most parts of Asia. It is the Confucianist order which still takes strong effect. It is a system of authorities and obedience. Gender and age are most important. Girls stay in the family discipline until they get married even when they are adult. This is not questioned in the traditional families and is the base of a peacefully shared life. Young people in the west would not bear it.
It is changing in the modern structures in the cities, but the tradition is strongly alive.
Delicious, various, the pictures can describe it much better than words…
to Anh, her family and friends for their hospitality and kindness for all what I could experience and learn in Vietnam. We will keep contact and meet again – for sure.