Saigon identity

A British journalist travels around Asia to write a series on the fading of identity of megacities. He came to our house in Saigon.

Like many guests, Nick Van Mead sat by the window, squinting at the Saigon River in the early sunshine. The Guardian editor pointed to the tallest buildings in the city: "80% of Saigon is built according to modern architecture and looks like anywhere in Asia".

Compared to the Saigon of more than 10 years ago he came, there are so many things that make this city so normal that people will even leave without thinking about it. The character of the city is disappearing along with hundreds of old buildings destroyed for modern real estate projects.

Near the place where we sat, the fridge filled with magnet I spared everywhere. A Balinese mask, a coconut coconut curry rice plate, a Czech beer opener, a tuk tuk model on the streets of Bangkok, a foam beer in Munich, Germany, of course, Paris must be Eiffel tower or Vietnam are two girls wearing long dresses.

The editor looked at the fridge and asked, "What's the most special thing about Saigon?" Well, the Independence Palace, Cu Chi, the War Remnants Museum, the Cathedral, the Post Office, don't forget to eat pho. , bread, noodle soup, beef noodles, milk coffee. "Then I took Nick to Ton Dan Street, the street full of smells of all kinds of dishes.

While Nick was crouching with a bowl of duck noodles close to the roadway, I talked about "the street food of my country". Two young men ride a motorbike to inspect the shop. The back seat jumped down, coming to take Nick's backpack strapped to the foot of the table. Suddenly, the daughter of the owner of the restaurant shouted, "You, get out, get out!" A half-meter long aluminum ladle scooped up the water, smashing a dust bag into the thief's shoulder. "Ah," another scream, a round mother carrying her a few steps away.

Seeing the situation is not good, the boy climbed into the car and ran away. Nick gasped, sweat dripping down the bowl of noodles and vegetables. His hand still holding the duck bone. The old woman tore the wet towel from him and gave her jaw: "Eat, eat," laughing as if nothing had happened.

"The most special thing about this city is its people. It is the identity of Vietnam," Nick later complimented. I question the identity in his opinion, "is what makes people different from Saigon people to China or Bangkok, Singapore, with every other city on the earth."

Resident personality is a kind of unseen heritage. The Southern people, according to Nick, are very open, sincere and kind. They are optimistic and kind, easy to accept the reality but "not as many demanding as in my country".

The personality of a resident is the "genome" of the city, which identifies an urban identity, entices people to come here or remember it, talk about it. He for example, Americans are well-mannered, always smiling, fake, like in Bangkok; British poise, slightly cold but straight; French people are always close as relatives, but starting to work is not so. I feel comforted because in the vortex of coins that are turning Ho Chi Minh City into Singapore or Seoul, one thing has not been lost, it is the indigenous character.

A city is actually no different from a human. Those who glance at a place to travel, check-in with the eyes of "strangers" can hardly recognize its true identity without digging through the deeper layers of the surface of life. Every city is like that, with houses, alleys and trees, but the soul is the substance that permeates every step of the people in the alleys, mother alleys, alleys, alleys, alleys, " little bit. "

There are so many layers of layers of waves of thoughts, beliefs, aspirations, desires in the heart of a society whose taste and color are so sophisticated that superficial people never touch it. We live here, make a living here, reflect, observe and make choices. I know the hole in the corner, if it rains, remember to avoid falling, remember to close the window at night to avoid the karaoke and the smell of grilled meat across the street.

But in Nick's article, published in one of the world's largest English newspapers, Dong Khoi Street - Saigon's heart and global cultural brand is described as "going through a revival." of Gucci, Dior and Louis Vuitton stores "; The highlight of the Saigon River is "a showroom with a bright yellow Lamborghini Huracan and 3 different Bentley models"; "The city's historic center is being filled with architecture visible anywhere in Asia."

I can't ask Nick how many people have read that article. But maybe quite a lot, that's The Guardian anyway. It has become a scandalous travel advertising advertisement.

Identity of the community in destinations is considered a part of tourism resources, also known as indirect service groups. Impressions in the minds of guests about hospitality, cultural characteristics, behavior and local customs become special and valuable goods in this industry. It satisfies the spiritual needs of travelers: learning, increasing awareness, increasing exchanges, being respected, communicating and enjoying. More than 90% of spending decisions come from the hypothalamus of the brain that determines human emotions.

It is not difficult for you to find a foreign article praising the Vietnamese character as a plus point of the tourism industry. Hubpages voted Vietnam in the 10 most friendly countries in the world in 2013 because visitors here "were always surprised by the generous enthusiasm of the locals".

But it is not difficult to realize that the identity - as a resource - is not included in any planning map. "Saigon-style" or "Hanoi-style" living spaces are not defined by the cultural industry, not preserved by the urban development industry. It is struggling with "the revival of Gucci, Dior and Louis Vuitton stores". We have stated this in the Views section many times.

When the artificial borders are almost lost in human notions, the more modern the world is, the more countries need to assert their own identities. The economy is increasingly globalized, but the culture has to be more indigenous to survive without confusion. Without the identity, culture, community personality as a separate "genetic code"? One city, one country left?

In every evaluation and development project, the magnanimous and sincere personality of the South people; The color, the taste, the personality of the pace of life in the cities must be a soft priority for the nation and the city government.

A city should be proud if there is a showroom displaying 3 different Bentley models. But one thing to be proud of above all, is the way of life of the residents. Does that personality need a separate planning map, or will it be promoted in a city of "uniform" aluminum and concrete glass and air conditioning?

Hong Phuc