Saigon upgrade

In 2000, I was sitting at Cadillac, a semi-enclosed bar, whose band played Hotel California and I Will Survive.

In 2010, I found myself at Rolls Royce, which also played Hotel California and I Will Survive.

2013, at Van’s Cafe, its band plays Bon Jovi’s number lacing with Santana’s classics.

Nouveaux riches, yetl good oldies.

The expats came and went. The FDI-enabled buildings and factories were built then abandoned. Investors fled, yet their dollars and euros stayed.

The spill-overs pay for the infrastructure upgrade and remodeling of multiple entertainment venues in the city. Saigon District 1 is still prime real estate. As a song goes, “Ngua xe nhu nuoc tren duong van qua mau” (Horses and buggies zip by on the streets of Saigon), it’s the kind upgrade once seen in New York of the time of Henry Ford.

Taxi pulled up, dropped off, especially when it was pouring.

And the youth, on motorbikes, couldn’t get enough of drag racing (richer counterparts have moved up to Vespas and Roman Holiday).

They did this during the World Cup. Now they practice for the next World Cup, keeping local police busy.

WIth all its pent-up energy, Saigon is upgrading and up to task. from Cadillac, to Rolls Royce.

Female singers with tattoos and cigarettes waiting for their gigs.

A  sequel of ” the girl with a dragon tatoo” could easily be filmed here.

And at the bus station, film crews were busy at work, with  PA’s in black T-shirts doing crowd control. With only that much space, and limited infrastructure – to get around, young people either have to wait until 2AM to race, or they go online during the day. By-pass bridges can’t be built fast enough to accommodate break-neck speed of urbanization and modernization (tallest high-rises, then, another taller-than-current-tallest is proposed).

Airport proposal and counter-proposals dominate tabloid news.

Digital content are thriving here. So have cosmetic surgery e.g. eye lash clip-on, hair extension, All things for personal-brand reinvention.

Those rock band members are splintering off only to regroup somewhere else. Bar ownership change hands as quickly as the names on the doors.

But “I still survive” if failed the US interview to live in Hotel California (background Karaoke screen often shows Golden Gate Bridge).

Those who were lucky to migrate to the West can’t wait to make enough money to return to the “village”. This time, to their surprise, the place has changed. From Cadillac, to Rolls Royce. And you can take a working elevator up to the joint as well. No more semi-enclosed bar (Cadillac) where rain would disrupt a fashion show in progress as often did.  Siting from the inside, you might think you are in a Vegas joint. Gaming and gambling are pushed to its neighboring Cambodia..

As of this edit, a legislative proposal is on the table to legalize sports betting modeled after Singapore recent successes.

With only eateries and spirits as socially acceptable vices, everyone  “dzo”, eat, drink and be merry. Tomorrow will take care of itself, that is, kicking the can down the road for younger population to step up and take up the torch. That torch might not be the same. This time, new issues have emerged: gay, abortion and single mothering. I hope they don’t carry real burning torches on their next drag race. Arson is a kind of upgrade no one needs. If upset, just go ahead and torch yourself.

Me, I will survive. With or without Hotel California.



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