I can think of few places more Apple crazy than Vietnam.
Above and beyond the omnipresent hardware the logo decorates more than just the machines. I’ve seen Apple jeans, big gold Apple jewellry, even Apple lights. In my last post when we had to think up potential competition prizes the answer to “Does it have to be an iPad that we give away?” was yes.
All of which makes the rest of this post even more odd.
I tend to be fairly pragmatic about the whole Android v Apple thing. Personally for me it’s Apple for laptops everything else Android. So when my wife said she was going to buy an iPad I tried to talk her out of it.
Going along with her to store I was bemused as to just how long it took. This is Apple right? It just works. No? But as I browsed and browsed and eventually gave in and sat in the waiting area (complimentary green tea) it was taken out of the box and, from what I could see from my vantage point, generally messed around with. But annoyed at how long something is taking is pretty much my default Vietnam mood so I just inwardly screamed and tried to tune out.
Eventually at home and I’m trying to get the thing working and…it’s set up to the shop’s account.
Basically they had opened the box, installed their own account and filled it full of software and pirated music and handed it over. After head scratching I managed to delete that account, install our own, the machine crashed and died. My wife went back to the shop to replace it – this time with instructions to just take the box but again they insisted. Their argument being – no, this is how the iPad works.
I read of a similar experience in online reviews at other Hanoi outlets.
When I first bought an Android phone here they wanted to do the same thing and I almost literally had to wrestle it out their hands. Boxes are always opened. Frequently plastic films overlaid over your machines is default too.
My reckoning is that a great deal of people who buy iPads here don’t have laptops to tether them too. Most won’t have credit cards either. So, when you buy them you need to have everything up and running and after that – well that’s that – it’s a dead machine.
And it’s not just iPads. Suggesting to sister in-law-Trang that she could do Cart updates to Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare at the same time with an app on her iPhone she admitted she couldn’t download apps.
So is this the norm? And if it is, then how come Apple is so popular? Is this really power of brand over usability?
In Hanoi the sip lid hole is an inconvenience.
Every single coffee shop offering takeaway has a roll of tape at the counter. Your coffee is prepared, lidded and the hole, or holes, are taped to stop spillage. The cup is bagged and the bag hooked onto your motorbike as you continue your journey to work or home.
People don’t walk in Hanoi. Nobody strolls sipping from a takeaway latte.
This is what all those tourist traffic tales and tips for crossing roads don’t get. Yes there are ways to cross the road, but most of us will go months between crossings. Hanoians don’t cross roads. When you literally park your bike in your kitchen, then on the pavement outside work, a cafe, shop or bar, why would you?
Even if you’d like to walk you can’t. The pavements are full of bikes.
The coffee is for the destination. Not the journey.
I’m not even going to link this because if I link it then you’ll follow the link and it’s best you watch this without any introduction.
But you absolutely have to see the documentary Searching for Sugar Man.
It must be just about the wisest, smartest, most uplifting movie I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t get distracted by anything other than the legend.
I watched it and there was a moment, you’ll know when you see it, when I had to try so hard, not just to fight back tears but also to stop myself breaking down into sobs altogether.
Watch it then tell someone else to do the same.
Well said. I was beginning to think it was just me. I’ve bemoaned this a few times and on occasions been shouted down. My take on it is that it’s the lunar calendar, China, to date, doesn’t own the moon.
See also this greeting from Dave who arguably gets it most wrong:
“I want to send my very best wishes to everyone celebrating the Chinese New Year – in Britain, in China and all around the world.”
I can’t help but think this is a hangover from less cosmopolitan times when anyone with South East Asian features was generically regarded as Chinese in the UK. A couple of years ago at the British Council, London sent round best wishes for the Chinese New Year which ended up on Vietnamese desks.
In China it’s the New Year, everywhere else it’s the Lunar New Year. In Vietnam it’s Tet. No?
Working with colleagues from China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and the UK this week, I’ve stuck to saying Happy New Year of the Snake.
I was rather charmed by this little scene outside the back gates of the Hanoi Intercontinental Hotel this evening.
If I hadn’t been reminded of the Kitchen Gods earlier I might have passed by without giving it a thought.
But it appears the hotel’s chefs were taking a quick break to burn their offerings, sending the Kitchen Gods skywards with reports of their activities for the Jade Emperor ahead of the lunar new year.
I was writing recently of plans to gentrify the Old Quarter. I argued that for better or worse there are still large parts of Hanoi that are “real’. In trying to appease tourists you’d lose the very things that make Hanoi special.
This wasn’t a show for customers – though sadly I bet one day it will be.