Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Day Two

Eating breakfast in the window seat of our hotel during rush hour is incredible.  I can't help but stare at the crazy motor bike congestion, and the Vietnamese on the bikes are equally infatuated by us.  However, it's only day number two and we're gradually getting used to all the attention we're getting.  After breakfast we went to what has already become our usual coffee place, but today we could say hello and goodbye in Vietnamese which really surprised the cart owner because most visitors to this country don't learn any of the language.  

Off to UEF we went for a presentation regarding the economics of Ho Chi Minh which taught us about the past, present, and hopeful future of this region.  I particularly found it interesting to see how the government plans to decrease motor bike traffic and increase the use of public transportation.  

We had our first company visit today.  It was to a company called Phu My Hung which is located in the very newly developed South Saigon region.  The company has done incredible things in the few years it has been in business as it has completely transformed acres and acres of soggy marshland into one of the wealthiest parts of Ho Chi Minh.  Company officials gave us a briefing about how the company conducts their business and the future of Phu My Hung which was surprisingly unpredictable (at least their future development in Vietnam) because of the uncertainty in government actions when the land they are developing is turned back over to the government of Vietnam in just 30 years.  Following the briefing, we took a short tour around some parts of South Saigon where Phu My Hung has completed a few of their projects then headed back to hotel for the day.

It's hard to believe, but today was both more hot and more humid than it was yesterday so the pool was the first thing everyone did when we got back to the hotel.  I cut my pool time short to walk around the city, and then we met up with the Vietnamese students for dinner.  We went to a roof top Vietnamese barbeque restaurant right in the heart of Ho Chi Minh where we ate goat, beef, and shrimp.  The coolest part about it was that the food was brought to the table raw and we cooked it ourselves, but the most shocking part was that the shrimp (which were skewered) were still alive when the waiters brought them out!!!  However, once I got over the initial shock, I ate the shrimp and it was easily the best I've ever had.

We're doing so much fun stuff here, but at the same time I'm learning so much.  I did a lot of background reading before this trip about Vietnamese culture and beliefs, but I didn't understand what I read until I started experiencing it first hand.  That's all for today.  Xin chao!

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