Rotary Club of Amherst
Amherst, New York, USA
 

An American in Hanoi - Rotarian Paul McAfee's Experiences in Vietnam

 
 

My last college lecture of the week, on Operations Management, ended today at 2:30 pm.  To relax a while, I visited a café called Face, located within the Hacinco student village, where my classes take place, and where many of the students live.

Sitting at the Face Café’s outside deck, where I can view and hear the busy street, I ordered a Local Vietnamese beer – called Hanoi Beer.  The warm sunny day gradually darkened.  Eventually, the skies opened up with another of the regular torrential downpours that are typical of this rainy season.

 

As the rain started, the friendly Face Café staff ran outside and invited me to come inside. When I declined, because I wanted to continue to enjoy the street scene, they moved a large umbrella adjacent to my chair, and ensured that I could relax outside in the downpour and remain dry.

Vietnamese motor scooter riders – there are millions of them in Hanoi – were caught in the sudden heavy rain. The riders I saw just laughed and put ponchos on to provide a little protection. These monsoon rains happen daily, and sometimes several times in a day. Yet the people passing on motor scooters outside the café were good humored and seemed to take the rain in stride.

An hour of relaxing and watching these wonderful people, drinking a refreshing local beer, cost me 75 US cents. When I walked through the café to scurry back to my hotel in the rain, the staff all laughed and wished me well.

Because of the Vietnam War – they call it the American War here – many of my American friends wonder why anyone would want to visit Vietnam.

I served in Vietnam in the US Army in Pleiku, a village on the Ho Chi Minh Trail in the Central Highlands, for a year in 1969. I’ve asked my Vietnamese students how they feel about Americans, and even how they feel about my serving here during the war. Their simple answer is, “That was then, and this is now.” Americans may want to adopt the same perspective and visit this vibrant and beautiful country.

I am an American who is happy to be in Vietnam.

You can follow my experiences on my Facebook Page:

 www.facebook.com/PaulHMcAfee