When I think of Vietnam, my first thoughts tend toward the Vietnam War (which I’ve taken a liking to calling the “American War” as they do locally), and not that they are one of the few remaining communist states. This fact was immediately brought home as we left the airport and were greeted by banners displaying the hammer and sickle draped from every lamppost. I laughed to myself.
From all outward appearances, it’s “communism in name only” after the market reforms of Doi Moi (similar to perestroika in the Soviet Union) that occurred in the late 1980s. Vietnam today is booming. That said, they still go all out with the communist symbolism, albeit with a warm and flowery kawaii-esque makeover. I’d call it “pastel propaganda”—much of it related to the Tết Festival that was happening while we were in HCMC.