900px-Flag of Vietnam

The Vietnam flag.


A poster advertising Vietnam holidays in 2015.

Vietnam was a country in Southeast Asia that was ravaged by a war from 1959 to April 30, 1975. After communist North Vietnam won the war, a government-planned economy and the emigration of educated and skilled workers, along with a trade embargo by the United States and Europe, caused isolation and economic disaster through 1985. However, the economy turned around in 1986, when the Communist Party of Vietnam began to allow private ownership of companies, and trade with foreign countries.[1]

By 2015, signs for USAir were advertising "Surf Vietnam", indicating that the country had recovered and gained a tourism industry. According to the Newsline column on the front cover of the October 22, 2015 issue of USA Today[2], the Vietnam Surfing Championships were due to begin the next day, with Rebecca Renner and Damian Kowal leading the U.S. Team.

In the 1985A timeline, President Richard Nixon, in his fifth term, promised that by 1983, the U.S. would pull out of Vietnam by 1985.

Behind the scenes[]

  • The "Surf Vietnam" advertisement seen in 2015 may have been an homage by Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis to the 1979 movie Apocalypse Now, in which Lt. Colonel Bill Kilgore ordered his soldiers to capture a particular village near a beach only so that he and his men could go surfing there.
  • When Marty goes back to 1955 later in Part II, the sign in front of the Ask Mr. Foster travel agency is advertising a vacation in Cuba. Both Vietnam and Cuba remained off limits to American travelers in 1985.
  • In real life President Clinton ended the US trade embargo with Vietnam in 1994 as part of his normalization of relations with the country, meaning the country is open to US tourists now.
  • In an alternate script for Part II, Trans World Airlines operated the flights to Vietnam instead of USAir.