Day 2: Growth of the Dragon

Our second day here in Ho Chi Minh City brought just as much excitement as the first.  The day began with two classes at UEF, the first focusing on the Urban Planning and Development of Ho Chi Minh City over the years, and the second on Vietnamese language.  The first lecture, in particular, gave very pertinent information for the day, as he detailed how Ho Chi Minh has been developed and expanded in the forty years since the war has ended.  This gave a good preface to the company tour we would undertake later on in the day.

After leaving UEF, we spent the lunch hour dining at an authentic sushi eatery, Tokyo Deli, which provided a meal of diverse and delicious foods including soup, salad, rice, and the sushi itself.  Everyone in the group thoroughly enjoyed the meal, but then it was off to the main event, the tour of Phu My Hung development corporation.

The tour began with a mesmerizing interactive video detailing how Phu My Hung, using their brilliant masterplan, built up the city center of Saigon South to the beautiful sight it is today in just 24 years.  This was a truly impressive feat, considering the size and scale of the construction needed to be completed over this vast area.  After the presentation, we were able to engage in a Q and A session with our guide, which gave great insight into the more specific details of the company and the city they have built.  It was here that we learned about some of the steps that Phu My Hung is taking to make sure the new city center is environmentally friendly.  Our guide detailed how the city has built waste treatment plants for both solid and liquid waste to ensure that neither end up polluting the river, and has also set aside a lot of land reservations to preserve the beauty of the area as well.

Furthermore, the guide discussed the price range of the condominiums and houses available in Phu My Hung, and consequently the market that this area of the city is targeting.  We were told that the cheapest apartments would be available for approximately $120,000, while the most expensive would sell for upwards of three million U.S. dollars.  The meant that clearly the target market was not the typical Vietnamese citizen, as the average income is far too low to afford any property even close to this value.  Rather, the intended buyers are the wealthiest Vietnamese citizens, as well as many “expats,” or foreign business men or women who live full time here in Vietnam.  Thus, this provides an interesting dichotomy, as even though the development of South Saigon seems to be very beneficial to Vietnam as a whole, it seems to provide very few, if any, benefits to the average Vietnamese citizen.

Lastly, we were given a bus tour of the Phu My Hung city center itself.  As we traveled through, I was amazed at the beauty of many of the houses, and it quickly became clear why some of the properties were worth millions of dollars.  The other thing that fascinated me was all of the different international schools present in the area, whether it be Korean, Canadian, Vietnamese, or other.  All of these schools were built so that the many foreigners living in Phu My Hung could send their children to a school in which they would feel the most comfortable.  This further proved the incredible thought and detail with which this city center was planned, and made me admire the men and women who developed the masterplan many years ago.

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