We were worried about coming to Vietnam and how we would be treated as Americans. We had heard stories of people wanting to leave the country more quickly than they had planned because of how they were treated - loud yelling and blatantly being ripped off were two common themes. We heard that after what happened in their country there was a sentiment that now we owe them.
Thankfully we haven't found this yet to be true (although we are headed to the North, Hanoi, tomorrow). Instead we have met the sweetest hotel staffs, friendly strangers on the streets, and people that shout out "hello" as soon as they see us motoring by. We have loved Vietnam, even in 100+ degree temperatures that mean we never really stop sweating.
While in Hoi An our friends Richie and Claire recommended a lunch that they went to, hosted by a former solider from the South Vietnamese army. We spent the afternoon with him, hearing his stories. It was surreal being there with a group of French guys, our two countries have so heavily impacted the history of Vietnam. He talked about how life was in his small village during the war and what it was like to have an Uncle and Cousin that were fighting for the North. He repeatedly said how much he likes Americans and how Americans are now the ones that will help protect Vietnam from China. There was a small language barrier so a lot of his thoughts he wrote out like this:
Today we stumbled upon a cafe that was decorated entirely with war relics. We sat on detonator fuse boxes and sat surrounded by flak jackets, motor shells, cooking utensils, ammo boxes, and parachutes. It was all really tastefully done, but yet another reminder of the recent war and American's role in shaping Vietnam's history. We have read two books about the war that we'd highly recommend for anyone interested in learning more: The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien and Dispatches by Michael Herr.
Click on any to enlarge: