There is more to Vietnam than the War
By Ha Pham, fixer
Do not get me wrong…I actually really, really hate articles about Vietnam with lead-ins referring the war. It is so formulaic and cliché. Come on, it was over almost 35 years ago! “Let the by-gone be by-gone” as Linh, the government official and Tony’s long time friend, quoted.
Tom, the show producer, once told me that now in the United States, food and travel shows are huge. It definitely reflects what the U.S. audience is hungry for. This is Tony’s fourth show about Vietnam. Great! Keep coming back Tony! We definitely want you to show everyone things that leave good taste in their mind and good feelings in their heart about Vietnam.
During the film crew’s stay in Da Lat Palace Hotel (a characteristic and charming boutique hotel, which I absolutely loved, and I hope everyone else in the group felt the same way!), I run into this lovely and handsome elderly Viet Kieu (a term for Vietnamese overseas) couple who was there for a visit. They currently live in the States but were originally from Saigon. Arriving in the States with 3 kids, they worked hard to give their kids the best possible education so they can thrive in their newly-adopted country. When one of their sons, Diep, told them he has decided to go back to Vietnam to start a business, the mother cried and begged him to stay. Now Diep is the owner of an extremely successful chain of coffee shops and restaurants called High-land café in Vietnam. He is married with 3 kids and his family is now based here in Vietnam. The couple since then has been coming back very often to see their son and grandchildren and they love it here.
On the other hand, Zach, one of the cameramen, told me about his uncle-in-law who is also a Vietnamese from Nha Trang (a very pretty coastal city in South Central Vietnam which is endowed with around 260 days of sunshine per year). He fled the country after the war and has not been back ever since. Zach, please show your Vietnamese “chu” (“chu” means uncle in Vietnamese) your beautiful footages of Vietnam, tell him the story of the Vietnamese couple we met in Da Lat, and bring him back to visit his home country.
I love traveling, and I loved my travel and working time with the ABNR crew. I believe nothing can help to promote cultural understanding and tolerance more than traveling. Tony, I believe your interests for food, travel and your special affections for Vietnam will encourage more and more of your country fellows to forget Vietnam dogma, to step out of their comfort zone and hit the road!