GROWING UP on a steady diet of movies like Full Metal Jacket and Platoon, my vision of Vietnam was defined by war and suffering. I knew Vietnam had so much more to offer, however, and went with an open mind. But as my plane descended through the clouds towards Hanoi, I felt an unexpected sadness at the sight of verdant rice paddies far below.
Half way into the trip I asked my guide Lan about the war: “It was a long time ago,” she said smiling. “We don’t forget about it, but we move on. Everybody just tries to make a nice life for themselves.”