Vietnam has recovered from shortages of food and electrical power which it suffered earlier this year.
Vietnam has recovered from shortages of food and electrical power which it suffered earlier this year. In Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital, the pulse of life has quickened as food and power problems have eased. More than two years after the Vietnam war ended, Hanoi's citizens appear less austere and tense than before.
SYNOPSIS: The scars of a generation of war are disappearing from the face of Hanoi. manholes along the sides of the city's lakes and streets that served as air-raid shelters from American bombs have been filled in. Traffic has always been heavy. But now many trucks carry building materials for reconstruction, instead of ammunition and weapons heading for war fronts to the south. Posters condemning 'imperialist lackeys' have gone. In their place, new posters exhort the nations's youth to obey family rules, the country's laws and traffic regulations.
Shopping for food is less of a frustrating ordeal than in previous months. Vietnam's food supplies were reduced by unusually cold weather and lack of rain throughout the last spring and summer. Now the rationing has ended. Slowly, Hanoi is becoming a little more consumer-oriented. When the war ended in 1975, Japanese motor-cycles were a rare sight. Now there are plenty of them buzzing through the downtown traffic, amid the bicycles and trams.
As ever, one of the busiest places in Hanoi is Ba Dingh Square, site of the shrine for the country's late revered leader Ho Chi Minh. Each day, long queues of people from all parts of Vietnam form and shuffle slowly forward. Well over three million visitors a year pay their respects. Correspondents who have know Hanoi in times of war and peace report its citizens are less severely and drably dressed than they used to be.
Official calls for volunteers to help with civic projects draw big responses. In a western sector of Hanoi, more than 4,000 government officials and citizens have come forward to build a water park. This, and other projects, are proceeding under the wordy slogan: Make a beautiful and affluent capital by means of the labour of the people. Much more toil will be needed to remove the ugly marks of 30 years of conflict.