Ai dậy sớm? (Surprise, it’s us)

After waking up at 6:45 this morning, we began our day with a session centered around the potential challenges associated with development in the Mekong. Our lecturer, Dr. Dang Le Hoa, was an experienced researcher who spent many years studying the rural expansion of this area. I was intrigued to learn that the acquisition of housing in Vietnam is much different than what I imagined. Compared to the United States, the country’s government owns 100% of the land. When you purchase a section from the CPV, you are given a “red book”, an indication that you own the rights for your new property. To a Vietnamese land owner, this book is everything. It’s impossible to borrow money from the bank without using your red book as collateral, which greatly surprised me.

After our class, we met with the UEF students in order to continue our Vietnamese lessons. Our second language class proved to be tricky. The use of 6 different tones, all of which depend on the accent mark, make learning Vietnamese almost impossible for an international student. Fortunately, my patient partner never gave up on me — even after having to repeat herself two and three and four times over.

The most exciting part of our day came with our first site visit, an industrial park known as Phu My Hung. Almost 30 years ago, a joint venture between the Vietnamese government and a Taiwanese investment firm came to life; together, they are credited with creating the first master plan for Ho Chi Minh City, referred to as Saigon South. Currently, they operate (so far) one massive industrial park, more specifically a region with developed housing and additional amenities (parks, pools, and so forth).

I would definitely say that the apartments in Phu My Hung are targeted at an ideal demographic. From its brief mention of price point, it appears that each unit can sell for a large amount of money. Certainly not every demographic in Vietnam is suited for such high demand-based pricing, so I assume its community vibe is much different compared to the “outside” city. However, they seem to place a lot of emphasis on remaining sustainable and environmentally conscious. Whether it be the amount of spacing between buildings or the area reserved for parks / gardens, Phu My Hung really tries their hardest to protect Vietnam’s natural environment.

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