Judy Ashbrook & Pablo Chavez – US Commercial Service and Lowe & Partners
The few days that we have spent in Vietnam have gone by really quickly, with so many things to see and do. Today, we had the opportunity meet Frank Joseph, a Commercial Officer with the US Commercial Service, and Indraneel Guha, Director of Strategic Planning Services at Lowe & Partners. Both visits gave us insights into both how to do business in Vietnam, and the Vietnamese culture and what it is like to work in Vietnam personally. What stood out about two of the visits was the differing perspectives between the two presenters. The US commercial service focuses primarily on providing assistance for US company’s to export to Vietnam, and his point of view was mostly small business oriented. Although Vietnam provides opportunities as an emerging market, Frank Joseph was realistic about the challenges of entering the market, such as government red tape, infrastructure, financing and education. From a Marketing perspective, the presentation at Lowe & Partners looked more closely at the local culture and implications for marketing products as well as the potential of the country as an emerging market.
Overall, the presentations gave the impression that there is a market to be developed in Vietnam, which has great potential, but there is considerable risk due to the cultural trends and political stability of the country.
In the evening, we had a choice to explore the city on a motorcycle tour or by ourselves. We traveled by foot from our hotel to the Ben Thanh Market, where the sights and smells were amazing. As you travel up and down the streets you see all sorts of items for sale such as souvenirs, luggage and Vietnamese delicacies to eat. The city is fascinating at night, lots of movement happening all around, with taxis and scooters. Truly an experience just to cross the street! We ended up going to Pho2000 where we experienced Phở – a delicious bowl of chicken, beef or vegetables served with rice noodles and broth. It was so good, we are all considering going back for seconds!
Margo Haines – Food Education: Moving Through the Streets of Ho Chi Minh City
For our first optional night Angie, Cody, Lauren, Wendy, our trip guide Michaela and I chose to see the city from the back of bikes, joining Moggy’s Mekong Madness, a motorcycle food tour of Ho Chi Minh City.
The tour began at the hotel and continued on through 5 of 7 districts of Ho Chi Minh City. The group were introduced to weird and wonderful local cuisine from the traditional phở to frog legs and local beverages. As the tour went through the city the guides were able to share local information and the history of Vietnam with us. The culture is so rich and to have the exposure to the districts and the differences between each of them was eye opening. The tour provided a feeling of safety while being able to immerse ourselves in the local culture. The experience of riding through the city on motorbikes, which is the main mode of transportation in Vietnam, and taking in all of the sites while eating the local cuisine was an experience of a lifetime!