What does Vietnam mean to you? The most likely answer is the Vietnam War. I know the basics - it's a war that happened before I was born, ending April 1975, I was born November 1975. For me it's a history lesson. My trip takes place 34 years and one month following the war and here is what I saw.
My initial thought was I could fly in Sunday night, stay at a local hotel and get picked up the following morning by our factory GM. My boss laughed at me and said no, you are not flying into a 3rd world country alone and without a guide. I was surprised, I've yet to fly into a country that doesn't have hotels nearby and taxi's to ferry one around. Welcome to Hanoi - it's an airport in the middle of a green field. In the drive away from the airport I didn't spot a hotel until we were at least 1 hour into the trip.
In the 2.5 hour drive to the factory I took photos from the car. My photos are all a little blurry from shooting through the window. My impressions are solely taken from the sights seen from the car and commentary from our factory GM who is from Korea and has found life in Vietnam to be very enjoyable.
Notice how they all have solid concrete sides, all are long skinny buildings and only the fronts are decorated. I was fascinated by this unusual architecture. SY, our factory GM, said the current leader of Vietnam decreed that all people should have houses and to make room, all should be long skinny buildings.
Scooters, bicycles are 90% of the transportation. The middle line is merely a suggestion as car drivers thread in between scooters beeping at every one to say get out of my way, I'm a car and want to go faster - seriously the car drivers use the horn every 5 seconds.
Scooters/Bikes are used to transport a variety of things. I saw chickens, dogs, balloons, food and building materials. The most people I saw on a scooter was 4 (dad holding baby in lap, mom on back holding baby in lap). I can imagine a couple getting started in life gets their first scooter like American's get SUV's. Before you express any major concern for the babies on scooters, note everyone drives 20-25 miles per hour. It's pretty slow and I'd say they mostly drive on the slow side of that number.
On the road into the factory I saw a stream of people with these items headed into the city, and on the way to the airport the following evening I saw them leaving with empty baskets. It's a bustling economy, it seems that everyone is selling something.
Along the way I saw people selling food in carts, on the ground, in little tents, under a bridge. It seems like where ever there is space, someone is selling something.
Vietnam is a wet country. I saw water everywhere, next to buildings, throughout the fields, etc. Very wet. The humidity was thicker then South Florida, it reminded me of New Orleans. The two days spent in the factory were suffocating, they even have decent fans set up on both sides but it's still hot to the initiated. On that note, here are photos of the factory production -
Baby Tinkerbell - sans clothing
Minnie - waiting for bows
Minnie - embroidery eyes
And that's all.