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Mimishu1995's avatar

What do you think of Vietnam as a country?

Asked by Mimishu1995 (20033points) 1 month ago

If I came to you and asked this out of the blue, what would you say?

What do you think about the country, the people, the food, the economic… whatever? (except the government. This question doesn’t concern the government in any way)

I’m testing something I seem to notice around the Internet lately, and I will tell you what that is after some answers. Right now I need to hear your answer without that context.

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31 Answers

Brian1946's avatar

I guess it seems prejudicial to say this, but my first response would be that you’re more evidence that Vietnam must have many pretty women.

My second would be that, although I’m glad I wasn’t there during the war, I’m very happy that I finally got enough money to visit now.

I’d probably find it to be hot and humid, but I’d love to experience one of your monsoons in a bathing suit. :p

When it comes to your food, I might even try an insect dish, but I’d probably avoid any food that contains ink. ;-o

Regarding your other questions, I don’t think I’d be able to make a judgment until I’d spent some time there.

gorillapaws's avatar

Of course the echoes of the Vietnam War ripple through my initial thoughts. I read a fairly graphic novel: “When Heaven and Earth Changed Places” written by Le Ly Hayslip in high school that recounted how French colonialism and the subsequent war with America was absolutely devastating to the people there. Several of my grade school friends were the children of families who immigrated here after the war.

In a more modern context, I tend to think of it as a nation successfully recovering from centuries of imperialism. I also tend to think of Vietnam as the less-well-off “cousin” of Thailand, but much less chaotic than Myanmar. I rarely think of Cambodia or Laos or hear them mentioned.

Vietnamese food is very good (especially with some of the French-fusion that occurs like
Banh Mi). It’s light and flavorful. I do tend to prefer Thai flavors more however (sorry, it’s just my preference).

JLeslie's avatar

I immediately think of the war, and how sorry I feel about so many people dying and harmed.

I also think about when I was younger and my Vietnamese friends (I’ve lost touch with them) and how much fun we had working together and at parties. That’s not really answering your question, but the people always come to mind when I think of a country, even if they are here in the US.

One of my mom’s favorite foods is Vietnamese, so we often go out for it when she visits.

I picture the country how I see it in tourist clips and from scenes of the war. Large cities, beaches, verdant jungles, and rice fields, especially the rice terraces, I don’t know what else to call them, where the rice fields are up a mountain.

Seems like it would be beautiful to visit. I assume there are impoverished areas also.

Lastly, I’m aware it’s a communist state, but this is the last thing that comes to mind. I wonder how free the people really are and how different their life is compared to the US and what I’m familiar with. I wish people like you could come visit the US and see what it’s like, spend a few weeks or months here, because it’s so varied across America in climate and even people, and I’d like to do the same in your country as long as I would feel safe. I do admit some parts of Asia make me nervous because of the governments or if there is anti-American or antisemitic hostility.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Honestly, I don’t, very often.

Vietnam – nowadays – comes up as a major manufacturer. I look at the label on my shirt, and it says Made in Vietnam. Or something electronic.

The war ended almost 50 years ago. That really doesn’t enter my estimation. I remember it, sure, but it isn’t something that I think about.

rebbel's avatar

I think of the Napalm Girl, of rice, of big circular hats, about spring rolls, refugees on boats, Billy Joel, Paul Hardcastle, Vietcong.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Minus the government, I love everything about it.
The beautiful rice fields, the beautiful jungle, every Vietnamese I’ve met (besides jealous little girls) are very kind and welcoming, friendly people.
The food is amazing, we have a few Vietnamese restaurants here in Missouri we love but home-cooking is the best.
Of course, as others have mentioned, the war also comes to mind. The good people we lost as well as the destruction of your country, so sad.

Demosthenes's avatar

Vietnam seems to be a place that enchants Westerns who visit it. Anthony Bourdain said it was his favorite country to visit and I’ve heard similar things from other Americans. It seems to be a place that you can’t visit without it making a significant impression on you. I would love to see it someday. I love Vietnamese cuisine and I’ve studied a bit of Vietnamese and Austro-Asiatic languages.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think hot, humid, sweaty and 2 step snakes.

seawulf575's avatar

If you walked up to me and asked that, I’d tell you I don’t know much about Vietnam. I know the pictures I’ve seen show an absolutely beautiful land. I’d be able to tell you that some of the cuisine I’ve had was delicious. Beyond that I’m not a Vietnam aficionado.

Of course the same could be said about many countries around the world.

flutherother's avatar

Vietnam doesn’t have a strong identity in my mind. I still associate it with an unnecessary war and its aftermath. I have the impression it isn’t a rich country but is very beautiful. The closest I have been to Vietnam is Xishuangbanna in China which is one huge botanical garden with lots of elephants and peacocks and a very laid back lifestyle.

filmfann's avatar

I’ve never been, but I have been trying to talk my wife into a cruise there.
I know a couple from Viet Nam, and they are wonderful people.

kritiper's avatar

Honestly? Really and truly?? I’ve heard that shit can be smelled as soon as you step off the plane.

LuckyGuy's avatar

If I am buying a consumer item I prefer something made in Vietnam rather than China. The product quality is consistently higher.
I would love to visit some day.

JLoon's avatar

I’m probably ignorant about the things that matter most, but I heard from my Army vet dad that “Vietnam was a beautiful country ‘til we fucked it up.” And I’ve read that historically Vietnamese people have been ingenious in adapting to change, but fiercely independent. Then there’s the food. And you…

So it seems like someplace worth visiting.

Mimishu1995's avatar

Thank you everyone for your answers. So from what I can gather here, the experience ranges from neutral to positive with the exception of @kritiper. Almost everyone thinks of the war but that’s inevitable and not really what I’m aiming at :P Overall, apart from the war and stuff, people here think Vietnam is a generally good and beautiful country, or just don’t care at all.

And with that, I have enough evidence to debunk the conspiracy theory I heard on the Internet.

So here’s the context: recently there has been a surge in arthouse movies made by Vietnamese people and sent to movie festivals in foreign countries. Most of them deal with controversial subjects, most win awards from the festivals, and most are hated by Vietnamese people back home although most people back home haven’t seen the movies yet. As an example, this is a recent movie that got into hot water. It’s about a Nigerian guy who went to Vietnam to be a soccer player and got fired after an injury. The guy is then stuck with a low-paying job, then gets involved with a bunch of middle-aged women and becomes some kind of gigolo for them. I haven’t seen it yet and I don’t know where to see it because it’s banned here, but there are some screenshots of it around and people base their opinion on the screenshots and the summary and call it a piece of trash that pretends to be art. That piece of trash won an award in a film festival as far as I know.

So with all of that, people here are really confused as to how those horrible movies could win awards. And a conspiracy theory was born. Someone noticed that the one thing those movies have in common is that they all depict socially rejected people living in horrendous and suppressive conditions, and an implication on the unfairness of society. They speculated that the reason why the movies got the awards is that they depict a Vietnam foreigners especially Westerners want to see: am underdeveloped country full of poverty and unfairness, a country that is still stuck in the colonial time with people who don’t even know what “enlightenment” is. Those movies trigger some kind of “white man sympathy” in the foreigners. Coupled with the “trendy” stuff like black people representation like the movies in my example or LGBT right and that’s how the movies won the awards.

I call the theory BS, but this thread is the damning evidence that those people are really out of their mind.

Side note: a lot of backlash for the recent movies is because of the sex scenes and the fact that it has a black man. And that’s just stupid.

product's avatar

My father took part in the imperial adventures of an invading army back in 1968–1969. He went there, did horrible things, and seemingly lost his soul in the process. My thoughts of Vietnam have always been colored by an incredible guilt at what my country and father did.

I’d love to visit someday.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@Brian1946 my first response would be that you’re more evidence that Vietnam must have many pretty women.

Thank you so much for that. I hardly call it a prejudice :D

When it comes to your food, I might even try an insect dish, but I’d probably avoid any food that contains ink.

You are telling me you won’t eat squid? :(

But to be honest, I haven’t really tried any insect dish either. Those grasshoppers you see on TV, they don’t sell them here in my city. Maybe in other places, but not here. The closest to an insect dish is silk worm cocoons. But they are so common here we don’t think about them at all when talking about Vietnamese dish. But they are much less gross than they seem, so I highly recommend it to anyone who want something out of the ordinary but not too strange.

@gorillapaws Yeah, we are getting there. I don’t care what people complain about Vietnam being so poor, I think we are doing a great job, considering all those years of wars. And yeah… not many Vietnamese know about Laos and Cambodia either, and we are right next to them :D

@JLeslie We still have a lot of jungles and rice fields and stuff, but they are becoming less common these days. Not everyone likes a quiet life on the farm, and one of the biggest dream farmer parents have is to send their children to the cities to get a well-paying job so that they don’t have to live on the farm anymore. I don’t know how many people realize that the farms and fields are actually what attract foreigners.

And by rice field up the mountain, do you mean this?

I do admit some parts of Asia make me nervous because of the governments or if there is anti-American or antisemitic hostility.

To be honest it saddens me a lot that there is anti-American sentiment here too. But most of that is confined in the Internet. There are a few places on the Internet like FB or some extremist forums where people post conspiracy theories and just general hatred about Westerners, and those places are just horrible. But you won’t experience any real-life physical violence in Vietnam. Everyone is generally friendly toward foreigners. And the majority of people don’t share the same extremist view on Westerners.

About Jewish people though, Vietnamese people seem to idolize them. Here they are regarded as the most intelligent people on Earth and have cool methods of doing things. I still remember that time when the bookstores were full of books about how to live like Jewish people. I’m not sure if the stereotypes are true though.

@KNOWITALL @Demosthenes @flutherother I notice that you all talk about the nature. It really irritates me that a lot of businessmen don’t seem to care about this when they develop their plan for tourism. These days people just seem to try to build big theme parks for foreigners. But I can see here that the things that attract you is the natural scenery untouched by modernism. I wish people could use that to their advantage instead of racing to build another big theme park.

@LuckyGuy I’m so glad you like Vietnamese products. Vietnam actually tries to compete with China by producing more thoughtful and higher quality products. A lot of people are put off by the higher price, but you show me that we are going on the right direction.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Mimishu1995 It looks very interesting to me, and yes I’m a westerner but it has nothing to do with any negative feelings towards Vietnam or the people, or anything like that. Because as you know, I have strong feeling’s about Vietnam with my father being there and many refugees as friends.

Don’t take this the wrong way, but during the Vietnam war I heard many of the ‘rules’ of society were broken with American men, including blacks and that anyone with mixed blood was considered trash by the majority of Vietnamese. We’ve seen that in several movies, like Good Morning Vietnam with Robin Williams, as well as others, and I heard it from friends as well. Only you can know if that’s the truth or not but that could very well be part of the issue.

To me the film looks like it’s more about surviving hard times and bad luck, and maybe about love, hard to tell from the brief clip, but that didn’t look like just sex. It was sad and desperate people finding comfort in each other.

I also know that ‘keeping face’ is very important in some cultures, but it really seems like prejudice to me, which we have plenty of in America and around the world. It always feels when you talk about these thing’s, that ‘someone’ want your people to think the world looks down on Vietnam, but I don’t think that’s actually true at all, as you can see for yourself.

And as far as @kritiper‘s post, just remember, San Francisco, New York and other urban American cities have actual feces on the streets where people walk. So don’t take it too personally.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Mimishu1995 As far as the land goes, businessmen see money, not as much beauty and tend to exploit natural resources.
My dream visit would be to visit a small village and be part of that village for a week. Working the rice fields or gardens, playing with the children, eating your food and enjoying the beauty of nature and making new friends.
We have plenty of big, ugly theme parks here and nothing could interest me less.

“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”-Counting Crows song

JLeslie's avatar

@Mimishu1995 Yes, the photo of the rice fields is what I meant.

The US is losing farm land also. Many farms are cooperate rather than family farms, and younger generations leave the family farm very often for different careers.

That’s interesting about the Jewish thing. I actually think about antisemitism in West Asia and Europe more than in your part of the world. I would guess there are very few Jewish people in Vietnam, and possibly they keep their religion and ethnicity very quiet.

kritiper's avatar

There may be shit on the streets of other cities, even in the US, but you can’t smell it. (Dog shit is everywhere!) But I have no first hand experience about any smells, it’s just what I’ve heard from people who went there years ago.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@kritiper Yes Vietnam has many farmers, makes sense.
I feel like the way you said it sounded like an insult but likely wasn’t intended as anything but truth.
Growing up in cattle country, I get it. :)

SnipSnip's avatar

I don’t think about Viet Nam other than to be sure I don’t eat fish from there. Actually anything from there.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@SnipSnip can you tell us why is it that you avoid everything from Vietnam? Just curious.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Mimishu1995 Some fish are not allowed to be imported here. See below. Tilapia from China’s fish farms, etc…, are also considered by many as bad.

Is it safe to eat fish from Vietnam?
Fish imported from Vietnam — like basa — has been found to breach standards for drug residues and to contain potentially pathogenic bacteria. Always ensure that basa is properly cooked before eating it to minimize your risk of food poisoning.

Mimishu1995's avatar

@KNOWITALL Some fish are not allowed to be imported here.

The moment I saw @SnipSnip‘s answer I immediately suspect that. I’m not very knowledgeable about this and most of my information comes from the TV, but from what I heard, Vietnam is currently banned from exporting fish to a lot of Western countries because our fish don’t meet the international standards. I don’t know what standards they are but Vietnamese fishermen are notorious for catching everything they can get their hands on, even baby fish. They don’t care, they just want some quick buck. This endangers the population of a lot of fish and that is one reason why we are banned. And also we aren’t that good at preserving fish for long period of time since most fishermen are more familiar with selling fish immediately to the market after catching. The government says they are doing something about it, but as long as people are poor and uneducated, I’m afraid this won’t change any time soon.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Mimishu1995 Yep you get it. It’s definately not just Vietnam. :)

It is sad that it’s not regulated there, conservation of that resource for your people is very important for future generations.

You may not believe the high fines we pay here for too small or out of season fish and game. Our rules in many states are very strict for conservation and each state is different.

Brian1946's avatar

@Mimishu1995

“You are telling me you won’t eat squid? :(”

Do you remember my tale about the time a tentacle traumatized my taste buds? ;-o

LuckyGuy's avatar

These Corona Comfort Gel garden trowels are made in Vietnam. They are the best garden tools I have ever seen. The quality, form, and function are top of the line.
I bought a few of them for my garage and barn.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Mmmm dried bbq squid and a cold Budweiser. It’s like great jerky.

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