Asia | Dominik Mayer – Products, Asia, Productivity

Vietnam

Communication

I recommend you to get a SIM card from one of the three large telco companies:

  • Viettel, operated by the Ministry of Defense
  • Mobifone, operated by the Ministry of Information and communication
  • Vinaphone, not operated by any ministry but a subsidiary of VNPT, the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group considered the “Operator of State Servants”

Make sure to check out the promotions they are running. It might also make sense to buy a second-hand SIM card that is eligible for a menu that is no longer offered.

Each of my two Viettel V90 menus gives me 2 Gigabyte of data per day (!) for 90.000 Dong (3.90 USD) a month.

Air

Depending on where you live you might need one or two things:

An air filter. I recommend the Sqair. It’s inexpensive, silent, effective and beautiful.

Less obvious: A dehumidifier. Humidity goes up to 85 percent. When I realized that there is an issue the backpack and toilet bag in my closet were already covered in mold.

Today my dehumidifier gets eight liters of water out of the air of a 27 square meter studio.

Transportation

The easiest way to get around is on a scooter. Tigit Motorbikes has good guides that help you with selecting your bike.

Saigon

Furniture & Home Accessories

Moving to Saigon one of the hardest things was finding things like (affordable) duvet covers, usable toilet paper. Some recommendations to make your life easier:

Health Care

I’ve had good experiences with all kind of departments in FV Hospital, both inpatient and outpatient.

Unwanted guests

You might find ants, cockroaches or mice in your apartment. I had a good experience with Absolute Pest Control who took professional care of an ant problem for a reasonable price.

Shanghai

Multiple Days

There are some things that I’d say are essential, like Pudong, the French Concession or the Bund. Here some advices which might help you to plan ahead.

Century Park → Lujiazui

You can take Line 2 to Century Park, one of the largest parks in the city. After crossing it you arrive at the Shanghai Science and Technology Market with its large underground fake/tailor market.

Then you walk the whole Century Avenue (or take the metro to save time/energy) to Lujiazui, the area with the highest skyscrapers. You’ll find the Shanghai Tower, the World Financial Center and the Jin Mao Tower as well as the Oriental Pearl Tower and (if you like to go shopping) the Super Brand Mall.

This trip should end with a scenery of the Bund at dawn, seen from Pudong. Preferably at the weekend as I don’t know if it’ll be illuminated during the week. Depending on the time you spend shopping, I think that’ll take half a day to one day.

Xujiahui → Huaihai Lu

Xujiahui is a large conglomerate of Electronic Markets in Xuhui District. You can get off, look around, maybe visit a nearby church and then walk Hengshan Lu to Huaihai Lu through the French Concession with its villas and plane-lined alleys. You can continue on the high priced Huaihai Lu to People’s Square. Takes a half to one day. (If you only want to do the French Concession then go to South Shanxi Road and continue from there.)

Moganshan Lu

The art street. Moganshan Lu 50, a former factory, is now home to many artists and galleries. Everytime you go there things have changed, new exhibitions open every week, there are concerts and other events. Especially on Friday/Saturday. I’d advice to go there around lunchtime, visit the galleries, take a dinner somewhere and return for a concert.

Nanjing Lu, People’s Square

Two of the most famous places in Shanghai. Not necessarily the most beautiful ones but definitely members of the “must have seen” category. Half a day should be enough but you can spend much more time in the numberous museums around there. Although not quite as famous as the East Nanjing Road, the West Nanjing Road is, in my opinion, more beautiful. Very elegant and high priced. It leads to Jing’an Temple.

Bund → Old Town

Starting near the Old Town you should walk the Bund up on the riverside to see Pudong and down on the other side to enjoy the buildings. Then you can continue to the Old Town. Should take half a day to one day.

Old houses

That’s something I highly recommend. See one of the poorer neighbourhoods that are being torn down to make place for uniform appartment buildings. In these places you can still see little food markets with living animals (with broken feet…), meat lying around in the sun and things tourists usually don’t see.

More

A friend adds that there is another interesting place in Hongkou District, Duolun Lu, a street where many famous Chinese writers have lived. Knowledge of Chinese history might be helpful. I haven’t been there yet.

Maybe you also want to visit the Campus of Chinese Universities. Either Tongji, where I studied, or Jiao Tong.

24 Hours

If you’re not afraid of walking:

  • Take the subway to People’s Square and walk east to the Bund. You can either take the popular but very commercial East Nanjing Road or one of the roads running parallel like Fuzhou Road with a lot of stationary and book shops.
  • You’ll get to the Bund at the Huangpu River and have a great view at the tall buildings in Pudong. Walk south along the river until you reach the old town where you can visit the Yu Garden.
  • After that, go west until you reach the subway station South Huangpi Road on Huaihai Road and take line one to Changshu Road.
  • You’re now in the French Concession. Walk down Hengshan Lu until you reach Xujiahui Park and the big electronic stores at Xujiahui.

Here’s a map:

In the evening, you might enjoy the great view over Pudong and Puxi at the Vue Bar in the Hyatt on the Bund.

The story of my life in China is here.

Latest Posts

How Vietnam Fought a Pandemic and Won  

For VnExpress Phan Anh retraced how Vietnam successfully contained the Coronavirus in the first and second wave. It all started way before other countries realized what was going on:

Despite its best preventive efforts, Vietnam recorded its first Covid-19 cases on January 23 in HCMC: two Chinese nationals, a father and a son, who were quarantined at Cho Ray Hospital after testing positive.

Immediately afterward, on January 24, Vietnam suspended all flights from and to Wuhan despite the World Health Organization (WHO) saying there was no need for widespread travel bans at that point in time.

More flight suspensions followed in the days after that as more cases sprouted up until finally flights to China were completely stopped on February 1.

Vietnamese Helmets

“What’s the danger with Vietnam’s motorcycle helmets?”, asks Govi Snell in the Southeast Asia Globe.

“What isn’t?”, I would reply.

But it’s not that easy. From the article:

Vietnam’s first helmet law, which passed in 2001, required motorcycle drivers to wear helmets on specific roadways. With limited enforcement of this legislation, the use of helmets was estimated at 30%. In June 2007, the government passed a decree that made it mandatory for all motorcycle drivers to wear a helmet on all roads from December of that year. With the law in place, helmet-wearing reached 90%.

Wearing helmets has been mandatory for less than 15 years.

Dr. Pham Viet Cuong, the head of the department on public health informatics at the Hanoi University of Public Health is quoted:

“When helmet-wearing reached 90%, we thought it was a great success and everyone thought that it would help to reduce the number of brain injuries and deaths initially. But after a couple of years, we didn’t see that happening,” he said. “We did a lot of studies and looked at a lot of issues and we saw the problem of unstandardised or low-quality helmets.”

It seems to me, that Vietnamese only wear helmets to avoid being fined, not because they value their head. When I refuse to take friends without helmet on my bike they would often argue that there’s no police around. And when they wear helmets, they choose tiny ones, that might only protect you from a rock falling from the sky. And they seldomly tighten the strap, reducing the already slim protection even further.

What I understand even less than Vietnamese wearing these helmets – they grew up here and everyone around them is wearing them as well – is that many foreigners go with them as well. As if everything our societies have learned doesn’t apply anymore. (Not buckling up in taxis is the same story.) As if the laws of physics would not apply in another country.