by Betty Martin
Vietnam: Land of the Ascending Dragon
Vietnam Shares Beauty, History
Viewers get a rare portrait of Vietnam, a beautiful and intriguing
country with much to attract American tourists and veterans,
who are met with warmth and enthusiasm.
Maps and a narration filled with myths, legends and ancient
and modern history take viewers from the northern capital
of Hanoi on the Hong (Red) River Delta, which opens onto the
Tonkin Gulf, south to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and the Mekong
River Delta. Conversations with the people and reminders of
the legacy of foreign occupation, along with geographical
and climatic conditions, help explain cultural differences
between north and south Vietnam.
A tour of Hanoi opens with a Tet holiday festival and images
of rice cultivation along the delta. There are scenes of Hanoi
University with a discussion of the influence of Confucius
on education; the historic Long Bien Bridge across the Hong
river; the Thong Nhat (Metropole) Hotel; the infamous "Hanoi
Hilton," where American prisoners of war were held, the opera
house, the French Governor's Palace, and the burial site of
"Uncle Ho" (Ho Chi Minh) in Ba Dinh Square. Viewers hear the
story of his life illustrated with old film clips.
A scenic journey over the cloud covered Hai Van Pass between
Hue and Da Nang in central Vietnam takes viewers to Da Nang's
Cham Museum, which houses relics from the 2nd-Century Kingdom
of Champa; to Marble Mountain, honeycomed with cave shrines,
and to the beautiful Huyen Khong Grotto that served as a field
hospital during the war.
A tour of Hue, along the Perfume River, includes pagodas,
the Golden Buddha and the Nguyen Dynasty Citadel, a city within
a city. Viewers attend a traditional musical show and watch
a performance of water puppets.
North of Hue, a series of tunnels called Vinh Moc reveal where
Vietnamese refugees hid during the war.
In Ho Chi Minh City, viewers see war relics such as artillery
and old uniforms and visit Madame Dal's Bibliotheque, an exclusive
restaurant housed in her former law office.
The narrator covers such things as Ho Chi Minh City's economy,
religion, fashions, and artisans and artists. Other stops
include Chinatown, the Ben Thanh hotel (formerly the Rex)
and the Dong Khoi (formerly the Continental), where foreign
guests can stay again.
by Delores Tarzan Ament
Seattle Times Travel Review
Vietnam evokes many things for Americans. Rarely do
they include vacation plans. A new travel video on the country
suggests it may be time to change our thinking.
Producer and director Janet Gardner shows Vietnam as a country
filled with settings of pure enchantment, and people busy
healing the scars of war as they build new businesses and
new lives. The long crescent of the land on the edge of the
South China Sea has recovered enough to be the world's third
largest exporter of rice, through it remains among the world's
Gardner's look at Vietnam is intelligent and thoughtful, balanced
between political history and tourist draws such as a bewitching
performance of water puppets, complete with fireworks and
a fire-breathing dragon.
One feels the breath of history as she reviews Vietnam's long
centuries of resisting foreign invaders, and shows a quick
history of Ho Chi Minh, who rose as a leader against French
Even those who never plan to visit Southeast Asia may find
this video irresistible for its look down the famous tunnels,
where thousands of Vietnamese lived to survive American bombing.
Despite widespread bombing, much in Vietnam is ancient. But
some attractions are new. A Women's Museum in Ho Chi Minh
City celebrates the heroism of individual women - "long-hair
heroes" - in many past eras.
But the newest draw could prove to be Vietnam's most profitable:
Vietnam's first international golf resort, under construction
last year as this video was being filmed.