How long can Vietnam keep this up?Posted: April 9, 2012
But a couple have only previously appeared in print. This is one of them…
Judging from newsreel footage, back when “all this was bicycles”, Hanoi wasn’t just quiet it was pretty slow moving too.
Not at all surprising when you figure that heat occasionally nudges 40 degrees in the summer. Vietnam doesn’t seem like it was meant to be fast.
But scooters replaced pushbikes and now cars replace scooters. Air con means people can work faster, harder and longer.
Those cars are now blocking streets. To deal with this we’ll soon get more car parks, wider streets and fly overs. Alongside these will be trams and increased public transport. Hanoi is expanding – it needs more housing, more shops.
Hanoi is to become a city made of cities.
My Vietnamese parents in law used to live in the countryside. They now live in the city. They didn’t have to move to achieve this.
Still, for the those with a nostalgia for “their countryside” there are wildlife restaurants. While the kids increasingly pay lip service to green causes, many affluent oldies are still paying top dollar for civet and pangolin. In 2010 Vietnam’s last Javan rhino was shot. No one really believes Vietnam’s tigers and elephants can survive.
Since the end of the American war Vietnam’s population has doubled.
Over the past decade, Vietnam’s carbon dioxide emissions have grown by 136%. That’s faster than any other country on the planet. Over the same period Vietnam’s oil use grew by 82% – beaten only by increases from China and Qatar.
But that’s nothing compared to Vietnam’s electricity use – up a massive 227%.
Meanwhile having hauled themselves out of poverty through sheer hard work, Vietnamese ambition doesn’t show any signs of slowing. Those who had it hard don’t want their kids to suffer like they did. If that means youngsters studying seven days a week then so be it.
Kids won’t go hungry but they will face different kinds of pressures. Simply making it to University isn’t enough. It has to be a foreign University. In the right country.
Meanwhile stats show that by the time kids hit their teens their largest outgoing is paying off debt.
That is something they have to get used to. With Hanoi’s housing bubble not yet burst, real estate loans went up by almost a quarter between 2009 and 2010.
Borrow more. Buy more land. Or dollars. Or even gold.
And if you’ve spent all that money on land, you’re going to want to make the best of it. No point having a three storey house when you could have five. Knock it down, borrow more money and build it up again bigger than ever. Five stories this time. Have your builders work through the weekend to get it done as soon as possible. Make them start early and finish late.
If you find yourself richer in 10 years time, do this again.
Little wonder then that Vietnam has a dust issues – up to 20 or 30 times the recommended limit near building sites. A mere half that on busy city crossroads.
Back to the family – mum and dad both have to go out to work now in order to meet increasing financial commitments. Grandparents are needed to take kids to school.
The golden generation that won wars and survived food shortages are now needed to babysit and do school runs. Mums and dads get back late. Stuck at work then stuck in traffic.
It’s a ride, exhilarating but exhausting, and let’s not forget that these are the good times.
But surely it can’t go on like this.
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