Nov.4 – We drove back to Saigon today from the southern part of the country. It was a long journey in hours but not in miles. The roads are paved, but they are full of dips and half hearted repairs. It was a slow trip to say the least.
When we arrived in Saigon and went to a museum which tells the story of the war from the north’s point of view. The people in the north and our guide really thought that they were saving the south as they took away their freedoms and private property and then placed them in reeducation camps, sometimes for many years. Several years later, the communist government realized that their brand of socialism wasn’t working and installed a free market economy. They also relaxed travel restrictions to some degree. Our guide speaks freely about the mistakes made but doesn’t mention the tremendous loss of life or of personal property.
We discussed health insurance and Vietnam’s system is like many other countries. They have high taxes to run a very inefficient system. Most people who can, buy private insurance. Of course, the leaders get great care and jump the line when ever they need to. Our guides wife and fellow employees get health insurance through her employer from an American company. Hum.
We went to the Catholic Cathedral and then saw the building made so famous as the last people left Saigon in those American helicopters during the fall of Saigon, just across the street. The Saigon post office is near by and we visited it also. It is a grand building with famous inventors busts over all of the columns along the outside. The inside is highly decorated and also contains small shops.
We had pho for lunch at a famous cafe. The soup was great, even after my wife added her dose of hot sauce. We leave for the border with Cambodia in the morning. We could see into the small busy kitchen as we were led to our table in the upstairs dining room.
We loose three more friends tomorrow as they must return to reality and home.
Sorry for the length of these dispatches, but some of this stuff is important for people to hear about and to understand.
I am still looking for these great health care systems that I hear about on the news. I have been to nearly ninety countries and still have not seen these dream like systems. Scandinavia has a good system but the population is so small and the taxes so high as to make it almost incomparable to any other country.
My wife’s family live in England and we are very familiar with their system. Most people buy private insurance if they can afford it. The wait for care can be long under National Health as the services are very limited due to lack of funding and technology. I have met several people who work in the system and have talked to them at great length. As in most countries, there is a lack of money and waiting for long periods is the order of the day.