I return to a post I did several years ago because I’m still getting asked if I have gone back to Vietnam since the North Vietnamese conquered the country in 1975. 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 know 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 Vietnam is an astonishingly beautiful place, filled with glorious wetlands and amazing highlands. But there are also some ugly locations 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 reality.
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.