Day 2: A Range of Developments – 5/7/19

Day 2 started out just as great as day 1. On the ground floor of the hotel, a huge breakfast buffet awaited us. I filled my plate with delicious watermelon, bananas, sweetbreads, and steamed buns. After our breakfast feast, we headed over to UEF, where we listened to a lecture about rural development in the Mekong Delta and the challenges that came with development. This lecture was so insightful, and really highlighted the theme of the Plus3 Vietnam program. The development within the Mekong Delta is slow-going, as many people still have small family businesses and religious beliefs that prevent them from adapting to climate change. For example, some of the older generations does not believe in climate change because they believe that their god wanted this to happen, so there is nothing that they can do to adapt to this change. In addition, the infrastructure is fairly poor, as there are very small footbridges that look dangerous to traverse and the buildings are more similar to shacks. However, the officials and farmers there are trying to compromise on the most important issues to address first, which will help the Mekong Delta to develop. After our lecture, we took a trip to a tea and coffee store, which was interesting to see popular drinks in Vietnam. After our quick field trip, we went back for our language lecture, in which I learned so much more. I still struggle a lot with the inflection of my voice, but I felt that I definitely improved. Once again, all of the students were very encouraging and eager to teach. After our lecture, we took a bus ride to the Phu My Hung City Center where we had lunch at a place called Tokyo Deli. I had the most delicious curry that I have ever had in my life! It was also such a unique dining experience because we sat on cushions on the ground and had to take our shoes off. After lunch, we went to Phu My Hung Development. Phu My Hung City Center was very intentional and planned out while the rest of Ho Chi Minh City is developing in more of a mish-mashed way. For example, Phu My Hung development created a master plan and collaborated with many foreign countries, including Japan and the US. This master plan took years to develop and perfect in order to ensure that the new city center would be set up in a desirable and organized way that would last in the long-run. Ho Chi Minh City seems to be developing piece by piece, and since much of the infrastructure is already established, it must develop around this infrastructure. In addition, the Phu My Hung City Center had both apartments for rent that were affordable to the average Vietnamese citizen and luxury apartments that were available for wealthier residents. In addition, Phu My Hung is occupied by 40-42% of foreigners, which creates a unique mix of demographics. The foreigners have had great impacts on the development of Phu My Hung in that they help to raise rent prices and keep them stable and boost business for restaurants and shops. They have also helped to globalize Phu My Hung in that many authentic Japanese, and Korean restaurants have become very popular there. In addition, Phu My Hung has international schooling for all levels, which also further demonstrates globalization. A huge difference between acquiring housing in Vietnam and in the US is the price. In Phu My Hung, rent for a nice apartment ranged from $600-$1000 per month while in New York City, rent for a small, dirty apartment can be greater than $1000. Also, a difference in the use of land due to differences in government is that in Vietnam, no one actually owns the land, they only have the right to use it. In the U.S. people and companies can own land, although the government does own land as well. With respect to protecting Vietnam’s environment, Phu My Hung’s selling point is the low density of its City Center. This means that they will leave plenty of space between buildings for plants and parks. It also means that this will allow air ventilation, which will prevent polluted air. In addition, they planned the city around the river so that they would not damage its delicate environment. They studied tide patterns of over 100 years so that they could ensure that its environment would not be upset by the development. They also added a 30-meter buffer, which will be a park, between the city and the river to prevent further pollution of the river. After walking around the Phu My Hung Development building, we drove through Phu My Hung City Center to see the views. This City Center was much less crowded than the rest of Ho Chi Minh City. It also seemed to have a lot more foreign influence, which is due to the large foreign population. The new, modern buildings of Phu my Hung City Center slowly transformed into older buildings and modest shack-like structures as we neared the rest of Ho Chi Minh City. The traffic got heavier as well, which showed a true contrast between the steps of development that each part of the city is at. Finally, we returned to the hotel, and now we are anxiously awaiting our dinner and trip to a rooftop cafe with the Vietnamese students! Bye for now!

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