Winner Winner Chicken… Feet? Investment Firms and USBs

After a late night at the karaoke bar, and downing a tired breakfast this morning, it’s time for another day of lessons at UEF. The same lecturer who teaches us Vietnamese language was our teacher on Vietnamese history. Vietnam has had a long tumultuous history of being ruled by foreign powers, with China for millennia, the French for decades, Japan during WWII, and each other for a couple dozen years. The first time in over 2000 years Vietnam claimed itself as an independent country only came in 1945 when Japan had surrendered in WWII but within the next 2 years the French already moved in again to reclaim their old colony of “Indochina.” With the French out, and eventually the Americans, too, unified Vietnam could finally focus on becoming their own country.

After a quick coffee break, (I like coffee now apparently because Vietnamese coffee is SO GOOD) it came time for another language lesson. I learned how to count to ten, then twenty, then a hundred, then a thousand all in a matter of an hour or so. I also learned how to tell time and say phrases such as hom kia which means “the day before yesterday.” With this new knowledge, my Vietnamese tutors finally made me volunteer to speak in front of the class after not wanting to for the past few days. I got up, spoke pretty well in my opinion, and for some reason I was the only student who volunteered to win a fancy glass 15GB flash drive.

With the flash drive in my backpack, the bus took us to a Vietnamese cuisine food court where I got a spending card to get some spring rolls and a bowl of Hanoi Crab Tofu Soup. All of it was delicious, and then I found out that there were fried chicken feet available, and thought, “When in ‘Nam.” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ It wasn’t bad, but it honestly just tasted like a really tough, scrawny chicken wing. Glad I tried it but wont be having it again.

The group walked from the food court, down a block (if even that) to the base of the building where VinaCapital, an investment management and real estate development firm. Once getting off the elevator in their offices, we had a meeting with their Chief Economist, Michael Kokalari, who’s also an engineering graduate from Stanford University, who told us about the interesting ins and outs of doing investment in Vietnam, and its place in the global market. Fun fact, one of the biggest winners of the China/US trade war is actually Vietnam, as its booming manufacturing economy becomes more appealing with every tariff traded back and forth. Once we got a lot of interesting information about how investment in the rising Vietnamese industry sectors, and how difficult the real estate development process can be in Vietnam, he turned his time over to Nghia Tran, the Director of Finance and Human Resources for the VinaCapital Foundation. The Foundation helps tens of thousands of children get the medical attention they need for cardiac problems, deafness, and un-diagnosed issues, as well as running a scholarship program for ethnic minority girls to help them attend college. Overall the company has a very interesting portfolio of work and is doing a lot to help the development of Vietnam both domestically and in the global economy.

Now I’m back in the hotel room as it pours down rain in Saigon, patiently awaiting what the city has to offer next. Apparently its Wrap and Roll Vietnamese cuisine, sightseeing and shopping for tonight, and a visit to the US consulate (former embassy of South Vietnam) as a birthday present tomorrow.

Leave a Reply