ContractsProf Blog

Editor: D. A. Jeremy Telman
Valparaiso Univ. Law School

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Friday, June 29, 2012

Markets on the Mekong

DSC03776
I have returned from an enriching 5 weeks in Southeast Asia, mostly in frenetic Ho Chi Minh City, where I taught a class titled "Workplace Law in Global Context." I blogged about my travels at Saigoner, which would be of interest only to those readers with curiosity about what I ate (e.g., spider).

I'll be back in the contracts blogging saddle next week.  In the meantime, I wanted to share some thoughts and pictures that might be of interest to ContractsProf readers.

We stayed in a government owned hotel in Ho Chi Minh City.  I was amazed by its efficiency - in the U.S., a hotel run by the government would operate like the post office.

DSC03778I've shared a few pictures of a floating market in Can Tho on the Mekong Delta. The floating markets are the main tourist attraction in Can Tho and they start up early in the morning.  A guide took us to see the boats; from the boats, people were all selling fruit wholesale.  To the masts of their boats, the sellers tie the fruit they have for sale.  Pineapples, watermellons and bananas were the main offering that day.  There was a little boat that went around like a convenience store for the sellers, in it a lady offered the sellers coffee and hot bowls of pho.

The floating market was very interesting, but the postcards in town all show a much more bustling scene.  There was a lot of activity, just not as much as pictured in those postcards.  It turns out that recent road and bridge construction has significantly reduced the amount of commerce done on the waterway in this fashion.  In fact, we were told that, in Thailand, there is a floating market that exists only for tourists; no real commerce is actually done there anymore.  I can’t help but wonder if that is eventually the fate of the floating market in Can Tho.

DSC03781Along the banks of the Mekong, people live in clapboard houses made of whatever they can find – mostly pieces of shipping containers and plastic tarps.  The houses are on log stilts.  One of the houses was partly constructed with a plastic advertisement for Kaplan University.  
In Can Tho we also stopped at a factory where they process rice grains.  The big machines at the rice
processing factory were wooden and dusty and it seemed improbable that they still functioned the way they did.  We were told that Vietnam is second to Thailand as the world's largest rice producer. 

The Vietnamese have a refreshing lack of anxiety about heavy machinery.  In the U.S., we would not have been able to get that close to those rickety rice machines, and certainly not without a helmet and a waiver form.  Same goes for firing automatic weapons (I fired an AK-47 and an M-16 at the Cu Chi tunnels) and renting or hitching a ride on a moto-bike.

Another eye-opening field trip was a garment factory DSC04228
tour I arranged for my class.  After a presentation on the company, we were toured around the factory.  It had over 1000 workers in the Ho Chi Minh outpost. You really cannot picture a room of 600 people making jackets for Columbia and Izod in assembly lines until you see it.  After the tour, we asked a million questions through an interpreter.  Most of the factory's buyers are U.S. and European companies.  I found it interesting that (at least thelast time I checked), Vietnam is not a signatory to the CISG.  This is especially so given that their garment exports apparrently rose 14% in the first 4 months of 2012 (and their claim as the world's second largest rice producer).

Finally, I thought readers would appreciate this picture from outside the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange (oh, the irony).  Their statue (as compared to this) is arguably a more honest depiction of markets.
[Meredith R. Miller]

 

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/contractsprof_blog/2012/06/markets-on-the-mekong.html

Law Schools, Miscellaneous, Teaching, Travel | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341bfae553ef017742d35840970d

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Markets on the Mekong:

Comments

Post a comment