By: Channel 2 Action News employee John Smith
ATLANTA -- Vietnam -- what a country of contrasts.I just returned from my last trip there. It was the occasion of a reunion of old (and getting older) news people who covered the war. The gathering was a 4-day event in Saigon (none of that Ho Chi Minh City stuff for me.) It was mostly former and present wire service reporters, but included news photographers like me, and others associated with the conflict.
The biggest, immediate impression is WOW -- what a change ! The streets are clean, the tourists are here, and the building boom is outstripping space. There are new, bigger, taller skyscrapers.I was here three years ago and the construction was mind-boggling, but now the buildings are taller, bigger, and there are more of them.
They appear to love Americans, English is spoken everywhere. They are even taking English lessons. Prices are in American dollars and the people are friendly. A lot of money from all over the world is being invested here.There are new hotels, (Sheraton, Hyatt, Marriott) designer stores (Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Mark Jacobs, etc) department stores, night clubs, and banks.
The colonel in this town is KFC. Other American franchises are well established and doing well. The entire cab fleet has been re-conditioned with new sedans. The hotels will be glad to supply you a driver and a new Mercedes limo, for a price. Tourism is big here. There are a lot of Americans but also tourists from all over the world. The Vietnamese are taking full advantage of the influx. The famous tunnels that plagued American soldiers, with their hidden combatants, are now a tourist attraction. The Chu Chi tunnels are high on the list of treks. continued>>