What is Saigon like nowadays? Bookworm just spent eight days in Vietnam and three days in Laos. She writes,
Wherever we looked, people were buying and selling things. Saigon (a name the Vietnamese seem to prefer over “Ho Chi Minh City”) seems to be made entirely of storefronts, with the shops’ owners living above or behind their shop.
…A little confusingly to this Westerner, all the stores sell precisely the same merchandise and are all next door to each other. That is, one entire street might have nothing but stores selling toilets — and they’re all the same toilets (ironically, I saw a lot of “American Standard” brand toilets and baths).
…Our guides informed us that the distinction isn’t which store offers cheaper, better, or different goods; it’s whether the customer has a relationship with the seller. That was true whether the product at issue was clothes, appliances, or even food from the endless little kitchens/restaurants set up on sidewalks in every quarter of any town or city we saw.
…Indeed, there were only two things that felt communist (or maybe just Chicago). One is the the fact that each guide said that there are only two ways to get rich in Vietnam. The first is to have a relative who escaped to America in the 1970s, made it there, and is now sending money back to Vietnam. The second (the Chicago way) is to be in government. To hear the guides tell it, there is rampant corruption in Vietnam, from the police officers who must be paid off when they stop you to higher officials who won’t move without money.
…My overall impression of Vietnam is that this is a bubbling, energetic country working as fast as it can to position itself fully in the modern world, a la Seoul. In that, it differs a great deal from my impression of Mexico, which always seems caught in the grip of an overwhelming malaise.
As I’ve said before, the Left’s open door policy at our southern border doesn’t just harm the US by bringing in people Mexico is glad to see the back of. It also harms Mexico, because, along with the criminals, we get the energetic, innovative, hard-working people who see no future for themselves amidst Mexico’s chronic malaise.
Read more here.