IMG_0762IMG_0757

 

What a whirlwind trip! Yesterday we said goodbye to Saigon and flew to Daneng. We drove into Hoian and heard about the Vietnam War. Many American installations are still here.

We are on the water and it is lovely! When we arrived, we did a short walking tour of the old city which is a unesco world heritage site.

Today we did an eco tour and saw how people here farm and fish! We got to ride a water buffalo and float in the river. Lunch on the boat was delicious! We came back to the hotel for a little rest and relaxation before our flight tonight. I’m excited to go home!IMG_0763

Days 6 & 7: Winding Down

IMG_0757 IMG_0762 IMG_0763

What a whirlwind trip! Yesterday we said goodbye to Saigon and flew to Daneng. We drove into Hoian and heard about the Vietnam War. Many American installations are still here.

We are on the water and it is lovely! When we arrived, we did a short walking tour of the old city which is a unesco world heritage site.

Today we did an eco tour and saw how people here farm and fish! We got to ride a water buffalo and float in the river. Lunch on the boat was delicious!  We came back to the hotel for a little rest and relaxation before our flight tonight. I’m excited to go home!

Day 5: Brands and Startups

IMG_0733

Today was fascinating! We heard from incredibly smart people; dividing the day into establishing and established brands, and then startups and new businesses later on.

In the morning we learned about energy in Vietnam. It is a priority here like it isn’t in Cambodia, but at the moment the infrastructure is very similar. Our speaker discussed he market for back-up generators and the cost of energy here. I’m a little disappointed that coal and the technology from China is where the future of energy in Vietnam is going. There is hydropower but very little solar or wind and no investment in it. The speaker sold Kohler diesel generators, and we talked about who would buy the brand name and who would still need to purchase a generator but be more motivated by price and smaller competitors.

Then we heard from PNJ Jewelry and learned about their efforts at creating branded lines. It was so interesting to hear what worked and what didn’t, and how the local sales and exports operate.

Our final meeting of the morning was with Starbucks Vietnam and we started with a coffee tasting! The steps are: 1 smell, 2 quick spray, where on tongue does it sit, and 3 what do you feel? Starbucks in Vietnam operates under a license owned by a company in Hong Kong but the brand is still the same and global. We heard about the challenges and successes of operating the global brand in Vietnam.

For lunch, our Graduate Assistant and local guide Genie, took us to get real pho! It was amazing and everything I hoped for!

Our last meeting of the day was with Vietnamese startup entrepreneurs. One spoke about the fintech (financial technology) space, and the other talked about startups in Asia, but specifically in Vietnam. The government and community support for startups is impressive and there have already been a number of success stories. We’re all eagerly awaiting the first Vietnamese unicorn!

Day 5: Brands and Startups

 

Today was fascinating! We heard from  incredibly smart people; dividing the day into establishing and established brands, and then startups and new businesses later on.

In the morning we learned about energy in Vietnam. It is a priority for Vietnam like it isn’t in Cambodia, but at the moment the infrastructure is very similar. Our speaker discussed the market for back-up generators and the cost of energy here. I’m a little disappointed that coal and the technology from China is where the future of energy in Vietnam is going. There is hydropower, but very little solar or wind, and almost no investment in it. The speak sold Kohler diesel generators, and we also talked about who would buy the brand name versus the smaller competitors.

Then we heard from PNJ jewelry, and learned about their efforts at creating branded lines. It was so interesting to hear what worked, and what didn’t, and what the local sales and export market operate like.

Our final meeting of the morning was with Starbucks Vietnam, and we started with a coffee tasting! The steps are: 1 smell, 2 quick spray, where on tongue does it sit, and 3 what do you feel? Starbucks in Vietnam operates under a license, granted to a Hong Kong company, but the brand is still the same and global. We heard about the challenges and successes of operating the global brand in Vietnam.

For lunch, our Graduate Assistant and local guide, Genie, took us to get real pho. It was amazing and everything I was waiting for!

Our last meeting of the day was with Vietnamese start-up entrepreneurs. One spoke about the fintech (financial technology) space, and the other about startups around the world with the focus on Asia in general and the specifics of operating in Vietnam. The government and community support for startups and entrepreneurs in Vietnam is amazing, and there have been a number of success stories already. We’re all eagerly awaiting the first Vietnamese unicorn!

Day 4: Happy International Women’s Day!

 


This morning we travelled from Chau Duc to Ho Chi Minh City, or as it is also known, Saigon. After some normal travel hiccups, we had lunch at a fancy rest stop, and continued on to our hotel in Ho Chi Minh.

IMG_0721 IMG_0722 IMG_0724

Finally, we visited with a lawyer who represents global companies in Vietnam and the region. She spoke at length about doing business here, including the effects of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. It was interesting to hear how it has taken hold over a period of time. According to this lawyer, there are no exceptions for Americans doing business because bribery overseas can and will be prosecuted in the US. The interesting part was how local employees have adapted to talking about bribery openly since the law was passed and implemented. If you are wondering, as I did, how business still happened without “gifting,” it is with corporate messaging that the company will stand behind local employees who may make less money because they do the right thing.

Now we are at an incredible barbecue dinner to end the day!

image

Day 3: Cambodia to Vietnam

IMG_0710 IMG_0718

We took a boat from Phnom Penh to Chau Duc in Vietnam today! What a great way to travel four hours. The border crossing by boat was really interesting: quiet and efficient. We had to climb up steep steps on the river bank to depart Cambodia and then again when arriving in Vietnam.

Now that we are in Vietnam, it is beautiful and relaxing. We headed to a fish farm on the Mekong delta and learned about the fishing industry and exports in this area. Following that, we toured the Chau Duc village, which is predominantly Muslim. I didn’t know there was so much diversity in Vietnam, with 56 tribes and eight languages.

IMG_0715

Finally, we went to the village market which had lots of stalls and sold mostly food and trinkets. Most of the food was raw or dried fish (and fruits and vegetables), which has a distinct smell. I was surprised that so many of my classmates had never been exposed to this environment. I thought the food looked delicious and fresh!

IMG_0718

I’m excited to see what our next day in Vietnam is like!