Saturday, July 16, 2011

Vietnam - day 3

A one-hour drive along the river from Saigon to embark on RV Marguerite at My Tho.  My Tho was the traditional gateway to the Mekong Delta, and is still the embarkation point for exploring the Mekong.  However, the port does have a very intimate, small-town feeling about it.
View from Saigon hotel room

Port at My Tho - RV Marguerite left, wood barge right

Timber being off-loaded 

Info from the guides:
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam has a population of approx 90 million!
Vietnam is the world's second largest exporter of rice, coffee and spices.
Vietnam is the world's second largest consumer of tobacco.
Most building blocks are 4m wide. (Often rising to 6-7 storeys high.)
Planning permits are for negotiating.
Bank interest rates are about 24% pa.
No-one trusts banks so everything is paid for in cash - even $1m+ houses.
Petrol costs about the same as in Australia; Vietnam has large reserves of oil, which is mined and sent to Japan for refining then exported back to Vietnam.
Family inheritances go to the youngest son, which is usually hard for the youngest son's wife as she is subsumed into her husband's family and must look after everyone in the extended family.
Vietnam has a communist government and a capitalist mind-set.
Education is compulsory to age 18.  Good news - except that it costs, a very high proportion of annual income.
Average annual income is approx $700-800.

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