Why is Vietnam still as poor in your eyes as it was during the war?

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Have you ever been to Vietnam? Why is Vietnam still as poor in your eyes as it was during the war?
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I’ve been to Vietnam many times and can tell you that Vietnam is like any other country. It has it’s rich people and it’s poor people. But since the war there are definitely fewer poor people. In fact Vietnam’s economy is growing rapidly and many foreign investors are taking advantage of the situation and conducting lots of very profitable businesses and providing jobs for the country’s growing middle-class. It’s not at all like it was during the war.

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I was a soldier for two years in what is now Baria-Vung Tau Province and in Saigon during the war. The rural poverty in B-VT was desperate, with not even enough water for the people and none for the crops during parts of the dry season. In Saigon there were war refugees on suburban footpaths living in tiny huts made from scrap metal, wood and cardboard. I also visited Vietnam five times between 1993 and 2000 and lived there for twelve years between 2001 and 2015.

For the last thirty years the Vietnamese economy and society have been growing exponentially, with better roads, hospitals, dentists, shops, supermarkets, airports, bridges. The government has specific poverty elimination policies, also rural development, electrical power, clean water, health and education policies. Rural poverty has almost been eliminated and Vietnam is on an express train to the future.

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I travelled to Vietnam twice during the last ten years while I was working in China. Vietnam is certainly poorer than China, not to mention the US, but it is developing fast. The most disappointing thing to me about Vietnam compared to China is its much poorer public infrastructure. Every city in China is connected by fast trains, but Vietnam has none. Train travel is slow there. Nearly every Chinese city has a subway system. As of the time I was in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, they had none. Vietnamese cities are extremely dense with noisy and polluting gasoline-powered motorbikes and motorcycles. Nearly all those in China are electric. As I walked around Saigon (one part of Ho Chi Minh City), I was often next to roads congested with hundreds of motorbikes. The noise and air pollution were exhausting.

On the other hand, Vietnamese food, both local and foreign, is typically better than in China. I found even average restaurants were excellent. There were foreign restaurants, such as French ones, that would beat even the best foreign food in China. Perhaps Vietnam’s long and sad experience with colonialism did leave a positive legacy on the variety and quality of the food, at least.

Vietnamese weather is usually lovely, outside the rainy season. The beaches are better than most in China, comparable to the best in the Philippines and Thailand. There is much lovely mountain scenery too.

There does not seem to be much abject poverty in Vietnam anymore, probably less than in the Philippines, even if the average income is not as high. People are generally well dressed, with cell phones and personal transportation, if only a motorbike most of the time. There are lots of personal cars too, but I think fewer per capita than in China. Motorbikes rule the streets.

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The people of Vietnam have been battered by many foreign powers, and that can be reason for their poverty and misery but none greater and more vicious than being subjected to rule by the Vietnamese Communist Party. At least foreign invaders left, but the internal oppressors remain. Freedom and prosperity will emerge when democracy prevails, as is so in many former communist countries.

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I’ve been living in Vietnam recently.

The war was over 46 years ago. That time length should have given Vietnam enough space to recover.

Of course it looks better than during the war, but when compared to neighboring countries such as Thailand and the Philippines, Vietnam is still way behind.

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I’ve been back twice. It was more than clear, Vietnam is no longer a third world country. Their gross GDP proves it beyond any doubt also. It also offers a multitude of reasons to visit or live there full time. The Vietnamese are friendly, interesting people who hold no grudge with the US, and go out of their way to welcome us and let bygones about the war be bygones… both countries are recognizing we have a common enemy now: China.. it’s much more relevant now to strengthen our ties and stand together; not quibbling about a war that ended in 1975…

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I was there before the pandemic started and I must tell you straight, you're kind of misinformed. Vietnam is one of the rising stars in South East Asia. They might even surpass the rest of their neighbors(countries) in 5 to 10 years. If you could travel again in the future make Vietnam your first stop. See for yourself how industrious they are. Don't believe too much of those damn American War movies. Though they're the cost of it. But that's another story that we won't touch for now.

Pics of Saigon.

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Another view from Mekong River.

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Lastly visit Bana Hill in Da Nang. That the Americans accidentally bomb during the war(Vietnam war).

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