I'm gonna keep it real.
Vietnam is not about pretty beaches and lush rainforest, picturesque villages with artisans and craftspeople, developing cities with bustling neighborhoods full of individual personality and charm. It's about toil and grime and staying off the streets by hawking worthless knock-off shit to westerners.
It's about catering to all the fat, white tourists stumbling off their tour busses as they chug from town to town. It's about "Good Morning, Vietnam" t-shirts and authentic vietnamese lacquer "art" galleries and those rice paddy bamboo hats. It's a caricature of the worst kind because the Vietnamese in these villages don't care about their national image, they're trying to make a buck. And the tourists are promoting this fucked up cycle of what Vietnam "is".
We've quietly mentioned these observations to each other and have tried not to let it affect our overall perception of the place but it is creeping in. It's depressing really. We've tried to make light of the fun/scary things that have happened, like the bus incident (which really was both fun and scary simultaneously) or to focus on the food, which is the real reason we came. But it's hard when you're constantly face to face with misguided cultural supply and demand every second of the day.
Vietnam, we hardly knew ye.