Walking near the Sutro baths during a recent visit to San Francisco, we came upon this sequin adorned young lady performing an entire regimen of poses for her husband. My sweetheart offered to take their picture. They thanked her for doing so and snuggled up close for the shot. When asked where they were from they answered, “Vietnam.” My curiosity was piqued and I quickly snapped a photo for myself. It was my first interaction with Vietnamese tourists here in the U.S., and to me represents how much the world has changed in the last 40 years.
My first exposure to the country and people of Vietnam was during my childhood, watching the evening news with my father after dinner. In those days, Vietnam was a war-torn, agrarian country whose population was predominantly peasant farmers. For most, the economy and social structure were not conducive of travel outside their immediate area, with even fewer venturing outside the country. And while that is not entirely inconsistent with the country today, Vietnam is one of several Asian economies emerging into the developing world. Southeast Asia is a beautiful, fascinating and rapidly changing corner of the world. And I expect as its economies continue to grow, so will the prevalence of its people as tourists abroad.
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