Vietnam today is, of course, a different place than in the previous century. Changes have been significant in government, infrastructure, morale and population assimilation. Wealth is available and products that wealthy people want is visible in the shops. Urbanization is underway up and down the country. But many people are still poor. Nevertheless, they labor, mostly with a smile. Evidence of their work is everywhere.
Every area of Hanoi is packed with sellers of goods and services. People live and sleep in their shops. Some streets and sections of the city are dedicated to particular items. Being an admirer of color, I am particularly drawn to the floral displays and flower stalls, many supplied by vast fields of flora cultivated along the banks of the Red River in the suburbs of Hanoi.
Rice and food production also remains key to the country’s prosperity and health. In the 10 years since I previously visited the North, however, the rice fields seem to be shrinking. Also, it was a different time of year on this visit so rice harvesting was not as evident to me. Vietnam is one of the world's richest agricultural regions and is probably the second-largest (after Thailand) exporter worldwide and the world's seventh-largest consumer of rice (Wiki). In the Hanoi area it is the upland rice variety that most common. Larger areas of rice growing occurs in the south in the Mekong Delta.
Rice fields, northern Vietnam (2008)