From Bay Bridge to Bong Bridge


It took 20 years for me to reconnect with a childhood friend.

The last time we saw each other was near the Bay Bridge.

This time, 2 decades have passed, and he picked me up on his motorcycle near Bong Bridge, in the heart of Saigon.

You might think that his ability to weave in and out of chaotic HCMC traffic is a sign that he is a local. But you would be surprised to find out that Hung Nguyen used to work for Electronic Arts, and now CEO of LogiGear, with HQ near Bay Bridge, and offshore office near Bong Bridge.

When the other Clinton was here, he checked out Pho 2000.

Now that Hilary Clinton’s turn to visit Vietnam, she will have more choices to visit, from software parks to hardware parks, many of which were start-ups by Viet Kieu and other expats.

I am here to witness a new transition, which leap-frogs from an agrarian to an information society.

I found myself a Rip Van Wrinkle, coming back to a city of  10 million, all of whom on two-wheels, and software engineers, ten years ago, were probably playing games at internet cafe. They are here now, with “bug-hunting” contest, while in the Bay Bridge areas, their counter parts used to do Egg Hunting on Easter.

Hung Nguyen co-authors a best-selling text-book on Software Testing,

and he envisions Vietnam as a premier destination in South East Asia for this particular sector. The work force are young, which means they can stay and scale with the projects. They are ambitious, working long hours and yes, there is a crash-landing play room on the 6th floor, and cafeteria on the 8th floor for reboot.

The campus-like infrastructure was no where near Google’s,  Cisco’s or Salesforce.com’s, but for Vietnam, it does the job. VISTACON , Hung’s brainchild on software testing conference, welcomes speakers from Microsoft, EA, McAfee and FIT to the convention center near Bong Bridge every summer.

It will be just like any conference on software testing near the Bay Bridge, except for sponsorship banners, buffet and bunch of people who are eager to learn.

I can’t get the song out of my head “sur le pond, D’Avingon…” or the Vietnamese song “Ai dang di tren cau Bong, rot xuong song uot quan ni-long”.

Broadband build-out gave off-shoring industry a head start in places like India and Ireland. Now CAT5 is running up and down the stairs here at LogiGear, HCMC the same way.  The world is not only flat.

It is getting flatter every day with each IT graduate.

Out of my school and class, emerges people like Hung.

Out of many colleges and universities here in Vietnam, I am sure there will one day see a Bill Gates, who commands a huge rock-star turn-out in Bac Ninh. It’s not the “origin of species” here, but the process seems to favor the fittest. We got a bunch here but they do need a half-hour nap for reboot. In that half an hour, the machine takes over to do the downloading, upgrading and whatever else a contractor is asked to do. I don’t doubt the day when these semi-automated testers can afford a full-length nap while files are traveling back-and-forth from Bay Bridge to Bong Bridge.

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