Post 105: Live from HCMC

Here I am in Saigon Ho Chi Minh City. My plane is running late, which I think is about to really mess up my Saturday.

The past few days have been illuminating. You’d think that in our webified world that flying 150 journos into one city to speak with the top tier of a vendor’s executive would be redundant.

Well it isn’t. Conference calls are turgid. Telepresence is in its infancy. So for the time being, we still need to move through meatspace to … erm … meet and get FF points.

The vendor concerned did very well to make the event lively. There was blessedly little PowerPoint.

There was also some time off, during which I walked t’earth. Or the streets of HCMC, anyway.

I do not understand the tendency of tourist districts to all be the same around the world. The shops carry more or less the same stuff (carvings, clothes, miniaturised version of local quirky transport/large building and [insert name of] local specialty handicrafts/textiles) and are hard to distinguish from one another.

One interesting variation comes from the fact that HCMC’s tourist junk is markedly different from Hanoi’s tourist junk. I was in Hanoi last year and up there it was all silk boxers and sleeping bag liners. I hardly saw either here.

Vietnam (now that I have seen both its major cities) seems poor but happy – I saw two begars today which is less than i would see in Sydney. There is a buzz in the cities. Commerce is being conducted. Connections to the world exist – Internet was everywhere and tolerably fast not-slow. It’s very warm and very moist. Things grow. My hotel room was on the 20th floor and a small plant had sprouted in the gutter beneath my window. And the fruit is divine.

This country has the fifth-highest headcount in Asia, after India, China, Indonesia and Japan. Poor but happy today will be something different and hopefully better before too long.

Indications are that the Christmas shoppping I accomplished today consumed about 20% of the average annual wage. Which is bad. Or good. Or something. I don’t know. No insights. Too tired. Will resume normal grumps later!

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