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IMBA Students In Vietnam

After two weeks of getting our bearings in Beijing, our group of IMBA Pioneers has moved from China for two weeks in Southeast Asia. Our first stop in Vietnam was Hanoi — appropriately dubbed Ha-noisy. The streets were crowded with scooters and motorbikes. Crossing the streets was an adventure. Our patient guide encouraged is to “walk slowly”, and sure enough the bikes wove in between our strides.

Hanoi is the capital of the country, once cut into two prior to the Vietnam War (which is known as the American War here).  An important stop on our walking tour was at the tomb of Ho Chi Min. We photographed our group in front of this impressive stone building that holds his body and stands as a symbol to the independent and unified Vietnam.  The day was dark with light rain falling, so our pictures are not great.  With a bit of work, however, I may be able to post one later.  Next was a visit to the Temple of Literature, a tribute to Confucius and later the first university in Vietnam.  The names of all the scholars, who became Mandarins, are engraved for permanent display on long marble steles.  We also visited the Hanoi Hilton, the prison built by the French for Vietnamese prisoners and later used to accommodate captured U.S. pilots — John McCain being the best known.

Our next stop was Ho Chi Min City.  We were using the politically correct name only to discover that locals still refer to the city as Saigon.  We toured the Reunification Palace, formerly known as the Presidential Palace, and the War Remnants Museum, a sobering documentation of man’s inhumanity to man.

Amid all the touring and excellent cuisine, we were honored to hear from several business people who are succeeding in this dynamic, growing, but often unpredictable business environment. Consultants, small and large business owners, ex-pats and returning emigrees shared their stories and their lessons learned.  Tomorrow we hear from other business people and tour a local brewery before heading off to Cambodia.  We know that communication may be more challenging there, but we will try to post some additional notes as best we can.  Meanwhile, the group is off to kareoke, an Asian bonding tradition.  Perhaps we may bring this “best practice” back to the U.S. business community.

Mary Ann

  • By Wayne Kimball, Jr. on 4.18.2014 at 3:37 am

    From Hanoi to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) we left no stone in Vietnam unturned. While there are many great memories from this trip that will always resonate with me, I must say that the visit to the Angkor Wat Temple, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is one that captivated me completely. I am always in awe of natural and man-made works around the world. I am very thankful for and humbled by the experiences that the IMBA program have afforded me; I continue to grow as a businessman and person. #IMBA14

  • By Samuel Horn on 4.19.2014 at 6:45 am

    I think the one lesson that everyone in the cohort can agree on is that when you come to Asia, check your expectations at the door. Vietnam in particular occupies such an interesting place in the psyche of the West that to see it now, with noise, lights, and excitement was an overwhelming experience. Also, being able to see how much the country has moved on from the Vietnam War, which was just another war in a long history of fighting for independence by the Vietnamese. Another thing that was amazing was being able to see capitalism at it’s rawest form; thousands of individually owned businesses that have sprung up throughout the country in the past two decades. Vietnam is a country that is rapidly growing and maturing, and it was an incredible thing to experience it from a first-hand perspective.

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