Vibrant Vietnam - 2007

As we passed through one of the frequent toll booths, Lan gave us an example of how the people ignore their government and go on about their business of “making do” and “getting ahead.” A person will buy a ticket for the toll road for a regular sized car but drive a van through the gate and pay the toll-taker the difference. That person doesn’t tear the ticket, but returns it to the driver who can then sell it to another person. This is the economy below the official one. Lan told us there are hundreds of such schemes and scams. Everyone knows about them and uses them in a “go along, get along” fashion with no real interference from the authorities. WEST LAKE & SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN One last incident in Hanoi deserves reporting. As we were walking through the city streets, we passed a large lake near the town center. Lan informed us that this is called “West Lake” and said it is surrounded by parklands and walking paths. Then he offhandedly stated that it was into this lake that John McCain crashed landed when he ejected from his airplane. He was arrested at the water’s edge and taken to what we call the “Hanoi Hilton” to stay for the next 5½ years, undergoing torture, starvation and deprivation. McCain is a recognized war hero in the USA and his name is forever entwined with our memories of the Vietnam War. But for Lan, this bitter echo of the past for us was to him hardly worth mentioning

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