Vietnam has changed me (or at least I have changed while in Vietnam). I came as a visitor, university president 15 years ago on a short trip to develop educational partnerships. Saigon was slower then and there was a lone hotel - the Furama - on the beach in Da Nang; even getting to the beach was a challenge with few bridges and dodgy roads.
Fast forward, I've slowed down as Vietnam has sped up. Much of the charm of central Saigon is being obliterated, a new, long anticipated Metro system is tearing up the streets, high rises abound and giant cranes and billboards heralding new developments stretch in every direction.
Even Da Nang has emerged, but in a more orderly, professional manner - befitting its progressive leadership. As I've grown patient, Vietnamese are impatient with the pace of change - in the system, in education and a host of other enterprises. But, I take a longer view and notice the subtleties of change. Fifteen years ago, a foreigner like me speaking to locals was observed by local police; now its commonplace (the greatest risk in Saigon is not being mugged but being hit by a motorbike or mobbed by enthusiastic English practitioners in public parks). Internet was costly and regulated (now its better than most of the US); and where no English language publications were easily found, my guy on Dong Khoi Street in Saigon has next week's editions of NY Times, the Economist, and Time magazine. Even the VN Airlines executive lounge has, on occasion, a western publication or two.
Prices are higher, variety is greater, knockoffs of things American(and the real thing like Dunkin Donuts) are everywhere; but there still is the countryside, the highlands, and within the cities, those traditional neighborhoods for real pho, ban xeo, coffee and slowing down.