Day 2-5/8/2-18-American Mall at PhuMeHung and forks

The Phu Me Hung development corporation and the section of the city that they had developed was much more wealthy and American than the rest of Ho Chi Minh city. In the city, most businesses are owned by individual Vietnamese and are not large corporations. Of course there are a few chain restaurants but it was nothing compared to the development. All of the restaurants in the development were corporately owned and part of a chain, and the mall was filled with American stores like Gap and Calvin Klein. There were also a lot of Korean restaurants because the development has a large Korean population.

The lack of self owned Vietnamese stores in the development shows how globalization has touched Vietnam in inequitable ways. The population of the development was 68% Vietnamese-a far lower proportion than the rest of the country. Foreigners are attracted to the development because it is safer and more luxurious than the other parts of the city. Residents of Phu Me Hung get to enjoy a more luxurious life and get to feel the benefits (and face the costs) of globalization more than the other residents of Ho Chi Minh. Since economic wealth is a benefit, and it clearly takes a great deal of wealth to live in Phu Me Hung, the development also speaks to the inequality that must be present in Vietnam.

The tour leader also said that the government sees the development as the new face of HoChiMinh. This concerned me because there was no Vietnamese culture at all in the development. I have enjoyed getting to learn about the culture and its people in my time here and think that the government would be making a big mistake in pushing out the culture which makes this country great. This is another downside to globalization that Vietnam must deal with and unfortunately a downside which the government seems to be perpetuating.

The development also seems at risk for floods and climate change related disasters. The leader of our tour said that they followed a master plan and filled in the land. But he also showed us the flat swampy marshland that the development used to be. The ability to terraform is limited to science fiction movies and so the marsh and swampland still exists, even if they are able to divert some of the runoff to man-made lakes. It did not seem like the master plan contained protocol for rising sea levels or a potential disaster and the development seems very at risk to me.

My quest to learn how to use chopsticks was derailed at lunch today when I accepted the kind offering of a fork from the waiter. I refuse to give in to that temptation for the rest of the trip.

This is what the development looked like before construction began
Happy to have a fork
This is not an American mall



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