There are a few countries in the world that evoke the same contrast of images as the Vietnam War and communism but also delicious food and exotic culture. To unveil this mystery and cover the many topics that encompass Vietnam, we bring you the 10 things you didn’t know about Vietnam.
10: The Vietnam War
The Vietnam War might well be termed the forgotten war. Because it has largely slipped away from the consciousness of most people in the world. As the years have passed and the generations that remember it vividly died out. However, out of all the wars the United States participated in, in the 20th century? It is virtually arguable that no other war has had a greater impact on the American and perhaps world psyche than the Vietnam War. Many decades after its end the late and former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara once in an act of conciliation called the Vietnam War a “mistake”. But if that’s what it was, it was a rather large one.
This was known as the resistance war against American Vietnam. The Vietnam War was fought between the years 1954 and 1975 when the city of Saigon fell to communist forces. Although, American involvement picked up a great deal during the 1960s. Nominally fought for the principle of containment against the spread of communism to South Vietnam? The United States spent untold resources in fighting this war, which must be duly noted, it lost. At the end of it 1.45 million people lost their lives, of which 59,000 were American. The Vietnam War was also the first war in American history to have received no official congressional declaration of war.
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9: Language of Vietnam
The Vietnamese language like many languages from the south-east Asian region is tonal in nature. Which means that meaning is carried in the tone of a word. That meaning can radically change the tone has changed. Standard Vietnamese has six tones one must master in order to speak and understand the language. The grammar itself by way of comparison to other languages such as Russian or Korean is fairly simple. Interestingly enough, for untold centuries Vietnamese use the antiquated Chinese character system. Like the Koreans in the 20th century, they decided to implement an alphabet based on the Roman alphabet with great success. The result was that literacy grew and a wasteful exercise in learning was done away with. Given the possible commercial prospects of Vietnam’s growing economy, it might be wise to invest the time and energy to learn the language.
8: Vietnam is a Communist Nation
Technically speaking, since the Vietnamese victory in the resistance war against America, Vietnam has been officially and decidedly communists. However, like many other nominally communist countries, Vietnam has had to adopt some capitalist principles in order to survive. As a matter of fact, Vietnam since implementing a series of free-market reforms in the mid-1980s has now become one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Vietnam has been on the fast track to becoming a modern and tech-savvy nation.
Investment in the Vietnamese economy is huge. All because the technically communist government only pays lip service to the doctrines of old. Vietnam might very well have served as proof that the true communist ideal does not work. Above all in today’s competitive global market of goods and services and instant communication via the internet. Still, if you ask any government functionary, he will tell you that Vietnam is a communist nation and always has been.
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7: The Mỹ Lai Massacre
Possibly the most troubling documented episode to have ever taken place in American military history. The Mỹ Lai Massacre was an event that showed the world the true horrors of war and the bestial savagery contained within the human age. On March 16, 1968, US Army soldiers from the Company C of the first battalion, a 20th infantry regiment, the 11th brigade of the 23rd infantry division participated in and committed mass atrocities in murdering, raping and mutilating between 347 and 504 unarmed civilians in South Vietnam. Allegedly under suspicion that they might be communists undercover.
Of course, no evidence of this was present. Even if it had been the case, nothing could have justified the level of brutality and savage killing instinct that was on display that day. Virtually all of the participants were in later years acquitted of their crimes. Despite massive evidence of their guilt. One gunner on a helicopter flying to intervene stated that he had been prepared to open fire on his fellow American soldiers in order to make them stop. One thing that will perhaps always haunt us about Mỹ Lai is that it showed us some of the worst aspects of human nature, aspects that possibly dwell within us all.
6: Vietnamese Cuisine
We can all bore you with tales of chicken and pork dishes but that wouldn’t be any fun. Instead, you need to find out about some of the more exotic foods available in Vietnam. Why bother with a conventional, when you can get off the beaten track and eat ragworms, silkworms, rat meat, dog meat, cat meat, and much more. That doesn’t even count the many delicious insect dishes you can get in Vietnam. So, don’t be shy again and remember, it’s all just protein.
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5: Pollution in Vietnam
Unfortunately, a byproduct of Vietnam’s rapid industrialization has been a great deal of air pollution. In any major Vietnamese city, it is not uncommon to see many people caught in an ocean of smog and filth. Above all Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and the beloved tourist destination Ha Long are being played by severe air pollution. Nitrogen dioxide or NO2 concentration is unusually high in these cities. High levels of nitrogen dioxide increase the chances of respiratory problems. It inflames the lining of the lungs and reduces immunity to lung infections causing problems such as wheezing, coughing, cold, flu, and bronchitis.
4: A large Number of Motorbikes
Pollution is definitely a problem and may be part of the problem is the abnormally large presence of motorbikes in Vietnam. In Vietnam, motorbikes are everywhere. According to the ministry of transport figures, from 2013, of the 90 plus million population, 37 million people were registered with the motorbike and only 2 million with a car. Owning a car in Vietnam is incredibly expensive because the tax is around 100% to 200%. So, it’s a luxury reserved for the very wealthy. The tax for motorbikes is far cheaper. It is a more affordable means of transportation for everyday folk.
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3: Vietnam is the Second Largest Coffee Producing Nation
If you like coffee, then Vietnam might be the right place for you. According to European Coffee Federation Statistics, Vietnam is the world’s second-largest coffee-producing nation after Brazil. Vietnam produces 16% of the world’s total coffee. Brazil is at 40%. Coffee in Vietnam is incredibly tasty, cheap. The iced version is a refreshing drink to cool you down during the warm humid months.
2: Ideal Skin Color
In the west, tanned skin is usually regarded as more ideal than pale white. Usually, a sign of being on holiday is the popularity of tanning beds. While in Asia, especially in Vietnam, the complete opposite is true. White is considered the ideal skin color. In any form of tanned skin is frowned upon because It’s just a sign of being labor working in the sun and consequently smacks of being from a low born station. For this reason, people above all women are always on the lookout for skin whitening products to make them look as pale as possible.
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1: No Fixed Prices
Unlike in the west for everything is a fixed price, you either decide to pay or not. In Vietnam, you’re more likely than not going to end up haggling for an optimal price. This isn’t necessarily because the merchants are trying to rip you off, although they will tend to sell at inflated prices. It’s just the nature of the culture in the country. However, if you’re good at it, you might be able to haggle down the price to below that of market value. Which makes the flexibility of a haggling scenario better than initially, it might seem?
That’s a wrap on our 10 things you didn’t know about Vietnam. What do you think about Vietnam? For more top lists just like this, you should check out other lists, and thanks for learning.