Once again, we started our day at UEF for a lecture of Rural Planning and Development of the Mekong River Delta from an Architect and Urban and regional planner, Vu Thi Phuong Linh. The Mekong Delta is the 3rd largest river in the world. The area is nicknamed the “Rice Basket” because it is so fertile. People have created a water productive landscape and started living with the water. Vietnam is a leading rice exporter in the world even though they get very little recognition for it. The Mekong Delta River is able to provide income and produce 17% of the country’s GDP. However, it is in danger with many people attempting to dam the river upstream to construct hydropower dams. The dams would have many negative effects on things such as inland fisheries, food security, aquatic biodiversity, and the lands system. Also, the salinity levels are rising due to global warming and damaging the rice crops that rely on the river as rice cannot survive in that environment. Sea level rise for the Mekong is predicted at 17 cm by 2030 and 30 cm by 2050. The typical Mekong Delta River family has an annual income of $5,400. The Mekong Delta is a beautiful area that we get to visit this weekend.
We then had our third Vietnamese language class and certain words and phrases are starting to stick from repetition. It is such a tough language to learn and listen for because there are so many tones and the tones are all different. For example, any word ending in a “g” is pronounced like an “OM” with a closed mouth and puffed out cheeks. We learned about a few occupations today and how to ask what someone does for a living.
For lunch, I had my first ever “Pho” pronounced like “phuh.” It is a soup with rice noodles, meatballs, and vegetables. It is the most popular dish here, and the most popular Vietnamese dish outside of the country too. It is like a salty chicken broth, and it tastes so delicious. I am not used to eating the hot soup when the weather is in the 90s with over a 90% humidity, but I would make the exception again for pho.
Glass Egg Digital Media was the next item on the schedule. It was in a tall office building on the 16th and 17th floors. We entered into their offices and walked through their floors. Glass Egg is an art outsourcing studio and a game developer with almost 20 years of experience. The started out with creating cars for companies like EA to include in their games, and have now expanded to characters and environments. They work with companies like Microsoft, insurance companies, and nuclear power plants. For example, they made almost every single car to ever be made for an insurance company’s app. The app allows customers to pull up the car they own in the app after they have gotten into an accident and bang up the car using a baseball bat and other items to destroy it similarly to the accident they were involved in. This allows the insurance company to help quote and see the damage. Glass Egg is facing a few challenges within their industry. Their main challenge right now is trying to break into the Japanese digital game industry. The Japanese are very particular about Glass Egg employing Japanese translators and are insistent on many factors about their English and Japanese skills for example. This factor creates a harder gap for Glass Egg to span in order to obtain partnerships with Japanese gaming companies which could be a HUGE industry for Glass Egg to enter because Glass Egg employees speak mainly English and Vietnamese. Secondly, as most media comes from China, Glass Egg has been toying with the idea of breaking into their industry. They are wary because there are so many rivals they would need to compete against in China and developing there is much more expensive. That is also a benefit to Glass Egg doing business in Vietnam. They have very few rivals in Vietnam. Also, their office in Vietnam is owned and operated by a business in the Brittish Virgin Islands where they are able to avoid paying the local taxes to the communist government. Thirdly, Glass Egg has pretty much obtained the car market for creating 3-D and 2-D cars for games, that they are having a hard time proving to companies that they are able to do much more than cars. They are attempting to break into creating environments for video games. Glass Egg is rapidly expanding. The are set to gain around 45 new employees by the end of this year. Glass Egg wants to expand in two main places. One being the Japanese market because there are so many games being produced that there is a large market for their services. Two, is moving more into creating full environments for games. Adding on to their ability to produce cars and stationary objects and proving they can do much more at the same quality.
At night tonight, we walked the walking street with our UEF friends. We walked the entire street and found it did seem to be like their own “Times Square” as some signs had suggested. Many families and couples could be found lounging or walking there. I tried my first ever “Peach Tea” which is a very popular and sweet drink here. They make peach black tea and put it over ice with real peach slices in the bottom. It is almost too sweet for me but was still very delicious. We also walked down to a waterfront where we had a really pretty view of the city.
Below are two pictures from our nighttime walk on “The Walking Street” in HCMC.