Jun 17, 2008

Even Ho Chi Minh is for sale

Vietnam feels nothing like the drab communist countries that I'm familiar with. This place is alive with markets, expensive shopping malls, designer stores and (comparatively) expensive restaurants. Of course most of it caters to foreigners, but with China's rising prices and shortage of skilled labor, Vietnam is being looked on more and more as the next affordable place to do business.

The business climate here is of interest to my MBA side, but I'm more intrigued by the lingering ghosts of the war. I look into the nameless faces of the young men who drive the cabs or ride their mopeds inches from mine and all I can think about is what it must have been like facing them in the jungle forty years ago.

I'm here to photograph landscape that has been reclaimed from the effects of agent orange. It's a metaphor for the whole country I think; the pain is gone but the scars still remain. Capitalism helps to soothe Vietnam's psyche, but like a replanted jungle it's never what it was originally.

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