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Vietnam turns on charm for dollar-laden tourists

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I have been reading the reviews of "Saving Private Ryan," Steven Spielberg's statement on World War II, which is being widely praised for telling the bitter truth about fighting and dying.

But there seems to be more to war than just hell.I discovered this when I bought a magazine at the newsstand called Travel & Leisure. As you might have guessed, the publication has to do with upscale tourism.

In the magazine there is a major feature titled "The Flip Side of Vietnam."

"Holy Ho Chi Minh Trail," I said. "So this is what the Vietnam War was all about."

I opened the magazine, and there was a long article on Hanoi, including restaurants, sightseeing highlights and idyllic places to bring your picnic lunch. The writer, Peter Jon Lindberg, called it one of the most beautiful places in the world. "If Saigon is the nation's wild heart, then Hanoi is its calm, cool, colorful soul."

The thought occurred to me that now that Steven Spielberg has finished his brilliant film about war, he should do a follow-up on what happens when the guns go silent.

I'm sure the Vietnamese would cooperate, particularly if it attracts the tourist dollar.

The film could open with a busload of ex-GIs unloading on Hang Quat Street. Beautiful Vietnamese women decorate them with leis.

The smiling mayor, wearing his battle ribbons, greets them. "Welcome to our tranquil city, dear friends. We hope you enjoy the shopping. You will be happy to know we accept all credit cards as well as traveler's checks."

"Would you recommend a good restaurant?" an ex-GI asks.

"The Seventh Moon of the Tet Offensive is noted for its jellied eels."

"You have a great country. I'm sorry you didn't tell us what you wanted to do with it before the fighting started. It would have saved us all a lot of grief."

"Alors, enjoy yourself and smell the flowers. That is what Vietnam is all about."