MY WIFE Sharon and I visited Vietnam just after their New Year in February, 1996. Although everyone was at peace, I felt somewhat uncomfortable being in a communist country.

Everyone seemed quite friendly and I made friends with two of the former North Vietnamese. Since my trip I have ordered some souvenirs from one of my contacts over there and we have exchanged letters. This Vietnamese has a niece who works at the airport in Saigon and when we got off the plane, she was holding a sign up with my name. She processed us through customs in an expedient and professional manner. I work with her uncle, and he made arrangements for us to meet prior to my departure.

What I remember of going to Vietnam was like going to another state in the U.S. or some other country at peace. A far cry from my first visit. I noticed there were no wire coverings on the windows of buses, no sandbags at strategic buildings or hotels, no sounds of bombs exploding in the distance, no artillery going off, no automatic weapons fire could be heard, and no vibrations of scores of helicopters all around you. Believe it or not, this is a country at peace with itself. For a vet, it does take getting used to.

My wife doesn't care much for history, so this trip for her was less than desirable. She did not like anything about it, as I knew she wouldn't, but I wanted her to see another culture and to witness the heat, the humidity, as well as the terrain and the people. I told her, "look on the positive side, it will never be any worse than this, no matter where you travel."

To sum up, everyone had the right-of-way as in the old days, and all night all you could hear was the constant honking of the horn. The country, to my observation, hasn't changed a bit, even after 30 years.

Copyright © 2000 Marion L. Ellard - All Rights Reserved