“THANH BINH, Vietnam — I drove out through a watery landscape, the rice paddies shimmering, watermelon being planted in muddy fields. There were ducks on the canals, graves and shrines in the light green rice fields, the dead among the living, not hidden but recalled daily. Women in conical hats pushed bicycles over rickety wooden bridges. The breeze was warm, the viscous coffee sweet. Cafes set with hammocks, some advertising Wi-Fi, offered sugar cane juice pressed through small hand-cranked mills. Everything felt liquid, soft, fluid here in the Mekong Delta, an aqueous microclimate.
Yes, the dead among the living: four decades gone by since the war, the bombs and the napalm — twitchy young Americans at the other side of the world wondering what menace lurked in this lush vegetation. America mired in the mud of an unwinnable war.
Now, if anything, the Vietnamese wonder whether the United States military would protect them against the Chinese, if it ever came to that. The temporary enemy has become a partner of sorts against the eternal enemy. Annual trade between Vietnam and the United States has soared from a mere $220 million in 1994 to $29.6 billion in 2013.”
David Lindsay: My favorite comment regarding the piece below on the success of farming fish in Vietnam. Numerous commenters insult the Vietnames health standards, and low wages as dangerous to us.
New York Yesterday
Um – just to chime in: The minimum wage in Vietnam is $114-$146 USD – the variance reflects cost of living differences dependent upon location. The average income in Vietnam is currently $148/mo. in Ho Chi Minh City, $145/mo. in Hanoi – reflecting that the majority of Vietnamese earn minimum wage. Thus a $220/mo. income is considerably greater than the average Vietnamese worker earns.
Some commenters have questioned the quality of the fish – in 2001 a group of U.S. catfish farmers and processors traveled to Vietnam on a fact-finding mission. “We thought we’d find them growing fish in polluted water and processing them in crude plants,” says one processor who went on the trip. “But that’s not what we found. We came back scared to death.” The Vietnamese operations were vastly better than what we had expected.