Day 12. The end. 

How do I share my story on this last day? We woke up decently early to head to the gym for soccer, tug of war, and other games with the Vietnamese. I cannot express enough how humid it was in the gym and how much sweat came out of my body. They awarded men’s soccer to the Vietnamese although the score was actually 5-5 which was questionable to us. We clearly tied but I can’t complain because we won every other competition. Afterwards, we exchanged gifts and took so many pictures with all our new friends here. I can EASILY say I am done with taking pictures for a while once back in the U.S. I can only image my sweating face in all the pictures taken. 

We raced back to the hotel to eat the lunch and the hotel and then Steve and I went to Loterria to finish our hunger. I have been dying to get to this restaurant since the day I arrived and it lived up to the expectations. We had mozzeralia sticks, chicken sandwhiches, and wings and I have never felt more American. USA USA. But in all seriousness, the trip has been incredible and I cannot wait to write about everything experienced when I get home!!!!

A few comments that have been left out of the blog so far. I was shocked to see Ho Chi Minh lifting weights inside the gym on a poster telling everyone as an advertisement to work hard. Almost like a LeBron James posters at home but here it was just awkward with an older man lifting Dumbbells. My stomach has struggled through the trip but I am glad I tried the foods that I did. 

Can’t wait to talk about the wonderful and spectacular Victory Hotel on my review!!!!!!! One of the greatest hotels I have ever visited and it should be branded immediately in the U.S.!!!

Signing off for the last time. 

Vietnam forever 

Day 11 – II – VI Visit and VSIP Visit 

The last full day here is wrapping up in South Vietnam. Time is absolutely flying with our busy schedules in country and I honestly couldn’t have had a better experience. We spent this Thursday taking a trip about a hour away from Ho Chi Minh City to Vietnam & Singapote Industrial Park and II-VI which is inside the Park. It was a great day to be an engineer as both sites, especially II-VI, involved procedures which they have learned the past two years in school. However, both companies described their business adventures in the market so it was quite interesting to see the processes on top of that.

Wifi on the bus made for an easier drive to the industrial park. When we arrived inside, we were greeted by a marketing worker from VSIP in which we went over two huge models that VSIP has the thoughts of building. Almost like the Phu My Hung visit, VSIP was focused on creating an area of preferred choice for all to live, learn, work and play. The main difference that separates the companies from being full competitors is that VSIP is more focused on creating areas for manufactures. Through the presentation in the meeting room, we covered topics from Vietnam’s growing economy to their locations in the industrial park that takes up over 2,200 hectares. It was interesting to hear about how they are differentiating in the market though with going into retail of dorms, apartments, and houses. In addition, we were able to ask about the regulations they must follow from both Vietnam and Singapore’s government and the tension sometimes both have. She also described how well the investments have been with the land because it ranks #1 in successful Industrial Parks in Vietnam and holds most of the market share. 

With II-VI having leased buildings in VSIP, we had our presentation with one of their engineer managers, David Baker, who previously was from Florida and moved to Vietnam when the company extended internationally into Saigon. That was one of the topics after covering what materials II-VI sells (the company is named after the material used in the periodic table). Mr. Baker described the advantages of going internationally with low-cost able and incentives from the government of the nations to start there. On the other hand, I was able to ask him about the personal issues he has had with adapting with the Vietnamese Culture over the past 10 years. I was shocked when he said that he would never go back to the United States to live and only visit which gives the impression on me that you can be successfully and love Vietnam without knowing the language. He took us around three separate sites around VSIP covering optics and thermo-electric modules. As an accounting student, these are procedures that I never see in the classroom so I found it appealing to see how they built their products and how detailed it can be. We couldn’t take pictures there so I cannot show what the process looked like but it involved heavy machinery and labor. 

Lunch was provided inside a state of the art mall at a Japanese Hot Pot Restaurant. I can honestly say it was even more delicious than the Melting Pot at home (for the all Pittsburghers tuning in) because of the array of meat we cooked in the two flavored soups. From ice cream to sushi, it was the perfect buffet styled food. 

As there are no more topics to cover, I’d like to talk about to less serious topics as the trip comes to an end. First, I want to talk about my body’s condition and how it has kept up during the trip. I can easily say the first few days were difficult with adapting to the local cuisine and my body felt worse than it ever has earlier last week because of a cold I picked up. However, by just 2 days, I was able to get used to the fresh food and my body feels healthy going back to the U.S. Lastly, I tried McDonalds here twice and its INCREDIBLY better than at home. It is clean and provides the customer with actual real American burgers. 

Tonight will be full of local food and finishing the final presentation for tomorrow. Oh and also preparing my body for the games tomorrow morning. 

Goatee is still going strong on Day 11 if anyone is interested. 

Signing off till tomorrow. 

Pictures and Videos so Far

Day 10 – Reunification Palace Visit and Saigon New Port (SNP) Visit – Required Topic #3 Company/Professional Issues

Good afternoon from Ho Chi Minh City (or for the older Vietnamese listening in Saigon) Our last Wednesday in country took us on a two visits today and outside of the classrooms at UEF unlike yesterday. We first took a trip to the Reunification Palace in the middle of the city (close to the hotel) and then we spent the afternoon in SNP for a interesting company visit about 45 minutes away from the city. Like the past blogs, I’ll be covering both visits and then afterwards I am going to discuss the organizational culture found at SNP.

The palace was only a few minutes from the hotel as it was in front of the main street in the city. At night we have noticed beautiful lights that lead up to the wide palace and it is a known location to all Vietnamese. We arrived around 9 am and were guided around the 3 story building covering rooms from the President’s office to the banquet halls to the radio/bombing room in the basement. We were told about the history of the building and how it actually was rebuilt after the bombing of building before the Vietnam War. In addition, we covered each room with its architecture and also how creatively it was created with the natural light from outside coming in. Furthermore, the guide explained the important of the building during the war and the gifts and guests who have been in the Palace. Lastly, we talked about the day the Southern Vietnamese Liberation broke down the gates and took down the flag of the Republic of South Vietnam.

After taking a short break at the hotel, we rode to lunch at a hotel which was buffet styled. I was able to have two different types of rice, chicken wings, corn, and a vegetarian salad. It wasn’t as great as some meals in country but it was more Americanized so it wasn’t difficult to get down.

Once we finished at lunch, we headed to Saigon New Port which was a decent drive from the center of the city. SNP is the largest shipping port in Vietnam and one of the biggest in the world with high exports all across Asia and the United States. Their location in Southeast Asia is ideal because of the world routes for ships. Their organizational culture involves a strong influence from the government because the navy is based into their company. The culture involves a large work force because of the amount of work they are enrolled in (they even own 10 separate trucking companies) because of the large market share they have in the market (84% in Vietnam). The company seems more formal because of the hard labor used during a typical work day in the port and not creative with methods because it seems methodical with the procedure. I say formal as well because when we were told navy officers were uniforms around the world area it seems very serious and hard-working.

Two company visits tomorrow as we wrap up our last full day in Vietnam

2-6 tomorrow as well

Signing off….

By the way, McDonalds is fantastic here. I will be bringing in a bunch of samples back home.


Day 9 – Lecture Part 2 of Vietnam Culture, Vietnamese Language Class, Buddhism Intro Lecture – Visit Buddhist Temples & War Remnants Museum – Required Topic #6 Individual/Personal Issues

Hello all tuning in to the blog as the program is coming towards its end this week. Today we took a small step back from the visits around South Vietnam and stayed in the classroom for most of day with lectures involving culture and Buddhism and our last Vietnamese language class. Afterwards in the later part of the afternoon, we drove around a few districts of Ho Chi Minh and visited a two Buddhist statues/temples. To end the day, we drove to the War Remnants Museum for the Vietnam War which actually was only about two blocks away from our hotel. I think today, with the events experienced, is a great opportunity to talk about the topic of individual or personal issues. Overall, it was yet again a fantastic (but humid) day in Vietnam and I was able to take a lot away knowledge wise when it comes to another religion so dominant in Vietnam and also with information of their view of the Vietnam War.

Starting at UEF, we finished up the second part of the Vietnamese Culture & History class with a lecture focusing on South Vietnam’s culture, the yin-yang philosophy of the Vietnamese and how it applies, and certain parts of the overall culture. We discussed how the South tends to be much more conservative and open-minded then the North. The culture in the South is more focused on international business and the North tends to have more individual leaders growing up. In addition, the lecturer explained how the Vietnamese have a nature that is rich yet most are poor because of the education that isn’t spread to the entire country. The yin-yang philosophy, which started long before any unification of Vietnam, has a strong effect in the history because of the sense of colors in Asia and infrastructure with the number system. He gave us a lot of information to take in about Vietnam and how interesting their culture can be so I am glad we can take the outlined slides home to read on free time.

Sadly today was the last Vietnamese language class which focused on the number system as yesterday and also going into ordering food in Vietnamese. I really enjoyed the instructor as she continued to make us stand up and move around the room to practice with other students the phrases she was trying to get across. I can easily say I learned the most from this class and I found it incredible to learn just the small bits of a language so different than English.

Lunch today was a little bit old styled. I compared it to the most famous shop in Oakland, Campus Deli. We had Vietnamese sandwiches with steak and lettuce (with a bunch of specific sauces) that made for a delicious sandwich. Luckily, there was a few extra so I was able to have two. I have learned that the food in Vietnam can be difficult to eat at first so food that is enjoyable immediately is crucial to eat just in case you run into that situation later in the day.

Our last lecture in UEF was the Introduction into Buddhism because of our visits of the temples right after the class. I had no knowledge of the religion so it was interesting to learn from the instructor about the foundations (dating back to the story of the woman who birthed Buddha) to the regulations of a follower now-a-days. Karma seems to be used when one violates (accidentally) a rule in the religion like let’s say kill an animal (even like an ant) because they believe that some consequence will occur because of the death to you even though you did not intend to kill the animal. The first worshipping area was decently big in the city with a beautiful carved metal in the back portraying the discrimination Buddhists have had in the past. The temple was colorful (nothing like a regular Catholic church) with a large statue of Buddha inside were individuals come in to “pray” or worship Buddha. In my opinion, it is fun to learn about other religions other than your own and one were you have to take your shoes off to worship definitely fits in that category.

The War Remnants Museum was arguably the hardest adaption during the trip just because of how difficult mentally it is to see the Vietnamese views from the war. With the help of a tour guide, we went through the three stories of history of the war from weapons, bombings, orange agent droppings (and its visual effects), techniques Americans taught the South Vietnamese for prisons, and air crafters/vehicles. Stories were told throughout the museum from deaths to how the war affected them. Pictures were unbelievably hard to take in because of the American cause and I honestly was speechless looking at the victims of the Vietnamese citizens because of the Orange Agent. However, I believe this was one of the best trips of Plus 3 in the country because it is important we see this side instead of being stubborn of the American side.

I’d quickly like to discuss personal issues so far in country and especially today. I would easily say the hardest cultural difference here is the language. Constantly hearing Vietnamese in the streets and not being able to understand any signs can be frustrating however it is something you must respect and adapt to as a foreigner from America. In addition, this applies to the recent trips out of the city, but the poverty is defintely a culture shock. You can see a family struggling to survive right next to a establishment and its nothing like a family struggling in the U.S. The people here with deal with conflict in a conservative way and don’t tend to be aggressive because of the Confucianism background. I have also seen a huge trend of welcoming foreigners in because of the business and attention to the company. They view Americans much better than I thought especially looking at the things we did during the war. I would say because of the younger generation (a large portion of the population) not living in the war and understanding the presence of the Americans in the international economy.

3 more days to go

Signing off