Two expats who have lived in Ho Chi Minh City for years have expressed their expectations for the city in the New Year.
Their comments responded to Tuoi Tre News’ question “What do you expect to see in Ho Chi Minh City in 2019?”
More trees, proper nutrition education
The New Year is always a time for reflection and expectations. 2018 was a good year for me, with visitors from Australia, work being good and me traveling to Buon Me Thuot and Da Lat by motorbike and exploring southern and central Vietnam.
What will 2019 hold for me? I'm hoping the same as last year. I'm looking forward to having some visitors from Australia again and I'm hoping to travel to central and northern Vietnam in 2019.
I love living in Ho Chi Minh City. This will be my 5th year here in Vietnam. I have noticed over the last five years that the middle class in Ho Chi Minh City is growing, people are becoming wealthier. This is generally a good thing, but it does bring with it some problems. I do have some concerns about Ho Chi Minh City – I would love to see more trees and grassy areas for people to enjoy. I hate seeing the beautiful old, leafy trees being cut down.
The problems I see for Ho Chi Minh City in the New Year is the traffic – along with a wealthier middle class come things like cars – more people will be driving cars and I wonder how the city will handle the extra congestion caused by these cars.
But the biggest problem I see accompanying wealth is obesity. Five years ago I rarely saw an obese child in Vietnam. Today, I have noticed a lot more fat kids at school. Unfortunately, many parents see a fat child as a sign of prosperity. They don't realize the health effects on their children. Today, 15% of Vietnamese people suffer from diabetes. They estimate that a large portion of the population is un-diagnosed. I would love to see proper nutrition education in schools.
Overall, I love this city. The creation of walking streets like Nguyen Hue is great but the thing I love is exploring the back streets and finding the gems of this city – old-fashioned coffee shops like Cheo Leo and fun places to eat like "The Lunch Lady.” If there is one thing I would love to see is an easier way for tourists to find these gems without having to go on an organized tour.
Mark Young from Australia
While being away from home for large-scale events like New Year can be challenging for foreigners in Vietnam, I’ve reached a point where I’m more excited about Tet than the calendar New Year. It’s celebrated with excitement as a one-off party, but rings slightly hollow in a country clearly looking forward to its own New Year, in just a few weeks’ time.
Of course, New Year is a good time to look back and reflect on achievements and look forward to new things. All of Saigon has watched the city grow at breath-taking pace over the years and 2018 was no exception. I had hoped to be travelling on the metro by now, but that may be a while yet. Like so many others I can’t help but be concerned about the traffic, and travel times between districts. Other cities have proven that more roads don’t mean quicker travel, but there are a few projects (particularly bridges) which will make a huge difference, and assist in the growth of public transport.
The appearance of a city-controlled recycling scheme is something to be celebrated, whatever the teething difficulties are. There were rarely-used glass recycling facilities in my hometown 30 years ago, but I hope it won’t take that long for Vietnam to see the benefits of reducing its waste. Movements and efforts such as this have to start somewhere and I hope that Vietnam can get behind it.
Vietnam frequently ranks amongst the happiest in the world, which is an enormous tribute to its people. There are many developed countries in the West, who don’t celebrate the traditions of other countries, yet ‘our’ New Year is welcomed by the Vietnamese people with enthusiasm. There has to be a link between things such as this – happiness of a people and their willingness to embrace new things. I don’t know when the 31st of December became important in Vietnam, nor how long it will be held up as a date to celebrate. As long as it’s never raised higher than Tet, it’s another party date; and Vietnam, as the football taught us, needs no excuse for a party.
Stephen Isaacs from the UK
What is your expectations for Vietnam in the coming year 2019?