Return to Vietnam?

So many people ask me if I’ve returned to Vietnam since the war ended. The answer is no. I have no desire whatever to go back. Vietnam is the place of my nightmares. I don’t want to relive them.

A good many men I knew there have revisited the places where they fought, and a few have even gone to Hanoi. They talk about what a beautiful country Vietnam is and how happy and welcoming the people are.

I agree that there are beautiful places in Vietnam. But there are also some ugly ones that the government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (the new name of the country, replacing the old name, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam) do not allow tourists to see.

I am inclined to remind the visitors that the population is under the strict control of the government. It is, after all, a police state. The people are required to look content and friendly to support the tourism industry. They have no personal freedom at all. Were tourists allowed to go to off-limits locations, for example the slums and the highlands, they might encounter a very different attitude.

But I don’t speak my mind. Let those who return reach their own conclusions. Let my nightmares remain private. I vent them in my writing.

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