Hard News by Russell Brown


Modern Endeavour

Quang Trung Software City reminded me of two other places I've been: the park around the old film studio in Wroclaw in eastern Poland, and Avalon in the Hutt Valley. In other words, it is both a memoir of socialism and a slightly retro testament to modern endeavour.

The terms offered by the people's committee of Ho Chi Minh City - 50 year leases, an array of generous financial breaks - are intended to encourage construction, and there are shiny new buildings dotted amongst the scruff of old military barracks and unmown grass. It doesn't quite look like the Powerpoint presentation -- yet -- but the plans are impressive.

I have my doubts about the integrity of some of the buildings: one that we visited, owned by a company that runs a training course for embedded programmers who contract to spend at least two years coding 12 hours a day for Japanese electronics companies - looked to have leaky building syndrome. It was kind of empty, but they're building another next door.

I spent quite a bit of the day (including lunch and dinner) with the Augen Vietnam staff, who struck me as a really nice bunch of kids; several of them are already interacting directly with New Zealand clients and making design decisions. Some of the companies at Quang Trung are coding sausage factories; this clearly isn't. Bonus points: one of the staff made round two of Vietnam Idol.

Today we're having lunch with Mark Fraser, a New Zealand lawyer with a practice here, and in the afternoon I'll try and hook up with a local blogger. In between, I think it's market shopping time. Tomorrow, a group of us are taking a boat down river to the coast, where we will ride motorbikes, swim and play beach football (the two fat white guys -- "strong", the kids say diplomatically -- have already been designated in goal). Then it's dinner with Mitchell's family and guests, to which I am greatly looking forward.

Anyway, you should read Graham Reid's very nice post about Vietnam and I should be getting about my business.

There are some pictures from the last two days in the gallery for this post. And I took a little movie of some street scooter action. This is actually relatively restrained.

Oh, and screw Ihug. Again. Apart from a brief, glorious hour when I was actually able to both send and receive email from my Ihug accounts, it's gone again. This is very rotten indeed.

Songs I'm loving on the road: Patti Smith's version of 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' from 12 - she's one cool old lady; Jimi Hendrix's version of 'Like a Rolling Stone' at Monterey Pop (now available on emusic!); Santo Gold's version of the Jam's 'Pretty Green' off the choice new Mark Ronson album; and, just so it's not all cover versions, MIA's 'Boyz'.

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