Sunday, October 5, 2008
The Colonel vs. Uncle Ho
The longer I'm here, the more apt I realize the title of this blog is. What I have come to see (in the infinite wisdom that six whole days in Vietnam has afforded me) is that this is a country that for a long time put guns before butter, because they had to; throughout their history, the Vietnamese had to grapple with invasion attempts from the Chinese, the French, the Japanese, and...well, you know who else. But for the past thirty years or so, they've been trying to turn this around, if we take butter to represent not just food but consumer goods in general--"butter" must be understood ironically in any case, since anyone who's ever been here knows that it is not an easy thing to find in Vietnam. Is it too late to change the word order in the title of this blog?
The argument could be made that it's gone a bit too far; Pepsi seems to have a monopoly on the restaurant awning market and there are more KFCs here than in the states, no joke. Cheap Chinese plastic crap seems to be the number one import. I guess I was expecting something a little less capitalist from a place called the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. But hey, universal health care, right? Right???