Springtime in Saigon

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Even washing lines look better in Spring

It’s 2015. It’s mid January. And spring is here in Saigon.

In what has become my annual celebration of just how pleasant a time of year it is over here, when so many other parts of the world are either sweltering in their own juices, or snow ploughing their way to the office, I can’t resist once more in proclaiming the bleeding obvious: life is so much easier when you have the weather on your side.

Biking into work these days you are struck by the golden light, the intensely perfumed scents of the orchids and bogainvilleas, and the breeze. The fact that there is a breeze is enough to be thankful for, given Saigon’s notorious humidity track record. The New Year marks the lowest temperatures Saigon will experience until next January – somewhere in the mid 20’s – perfection in my mind, although many locals are already donning their puffer jackets and scarves in protest at the chilly starts to their days.

2015 – no resolutions for me, a year instead to appreciate all that comes my way and to embrace the here and now. I am grounded in Saigon until a UK visit next month, hosting as I am a regional workshop here at the end of the month, and enjoying the novelty of “routine” after a fabulous Christmas break, involving some long weekends away, and plenty of indulgent moments of sheer fun with Florence and Martha.

Perhaps a suitable 2015 resolution after two months absence from this blog (I’ve been peppering the sister site – http://www.definitelymaybe.me – with musings on development issues over the past few months instead) would be to post a bit more regularly.

Let me see…

Meantime, a lazy capture of the last quarter of 2014, which saw me travel extensively, can be found below in the form of pictures. I took to instagram last year, so check out @saigonsays on that if you are similarly hooked.

Wishing you all a very prosperous New Year to come.

September 2014

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View over Bangkok on a work trip home
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The Kowloon ferry, Hong Kong. I was speaking at a CSR Summit. Check out the post: http://definitelymaybe.me/2014/09/17/the-future-of-csr/
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Happy 6th Birthday Florence!
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Martha back at school and in a new (big girls) kindergarten class!
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Back in Islamabad with work. Mountain top dinner! Check out the post: http://definitelymaybe.me/2014/09/29/what-can-care-do-for-business/

October 2014

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Speaking at a conference in Singapore. Post here: http://definitelymaybe.me/2014/10/13/true-power-lies-within/
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A weekend escape to Sapa
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Dawn during a tea plantation visit whilst on a work trip to Sri Lanka. Post here: http://definitelymaybe.me/2014/10/31/sri-lanka-preparing-for-a-future-without-international-aid/

November 2014

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Back in Bangkok traffic for more workshops
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Saigon Raider’s football tournament in Phnom Penh (me, German Alex and German Daniel and a crate of beer Lao in a tuk-tuk)
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Tacloban project visit, the Philippines. Blog post here: http://definitelymaybe.me/2014/11/20/tacloban-exposing-middle-income-country-realities/
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Back in Singapore for more conferences. Clearly I hadn’t washed that morning.

December 2014

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Lemonheads gig at Cargo, Saigon, with “Sluke” and Issy
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Back in Hong Kong for Awards event (and some dim sum)
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Hanoi for long weekend with the Suarez family
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Myanmar work trip, project visit in Lashio. Check out the blog here: http://definitelymaybe.me/2014/12/13/myanmar-bringing-about-change-in-a-frontier-market/
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My final Bangkok immigration queue of 2014
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Pre-Christmas swinging at Saigon Outcasts
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A trio of poseurs at Saigon Outcasts.
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Christmas 2014 is here. Woohoo! Flo with Sarah from the UK
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Skater Girl
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Scooter Girl
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Mui Ne white dunes with Issy and Luke
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Last holiday sunset Coco Beach, Mui Ne
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Last balcony shot of the Christmas holidays
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And the result is…

Big day today.

Millions of Australians will end it comatose, as the annual Melbourne Cup tradition of drinking-your-entire-body-weight-in-beer-before-lunch will ensure that particular country’s collective outputs for 24 hours will be, at best, sub-optimal.

As the table-top dancing down under comes to a close, the United States of America will awake to Election Day, with polls still saying the result is “too close to call” – hopefully this is a canny angle to ensure media sales rather than pointing to the prospect of the world’s most powerful nation being led by Mitt “The Binder” Romney.

In Saigon, very little attention is being given to either of these events by the locals today.  Many international media outlets have tried to express what the US Election outcome will mean to the rest of the world.  For the lady who sold me a coffee on the street outside our office just now, it is implausible to find a connection between her daily grind with that of the politics playing out on the other side of the world.

But this gap is shrinking.  It will continue to take further generational change for some of the positive aspects of global citizenship to really shift the status quo.  But it will happen.  And the role of the private sector in accelerating this is finally being recognised.  Business as usual is changing. Continue reading

#ImpactForum: Singapore

One of the other perks – aside from the sunshine, addictive food, friendly people and out of this world caffeine experiences – of living in Saigon, is the close proximity to some of the region’s enticing, and inspiring, neighbouring countries.

Take Singapore, for example.  I have been here for 24 hours, attending a conference, and despite so far spending the majority of my time here cooped up in windowless rooms on an (albeit uber plush) university campus, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the brief transition from the bustle of Saigon life to the serene and functional order that is Singapore.

I know, despite this, that I’ll be just as eager to board my plane home on Wednesday, however the intervening hours experiencing this very different aspect of South East Asian life has been novel.

From the moment you board the skytrain at Singapore airport and head into town, you are aware of having been momentarily transported into a different world to that of Saigon.  In fact, although Bangkok boasts an impressive skytrain facility itself, there is no comparison even there in terms of the images you take in as passenger as you skirt round the suburbs of the respective cities. Continue reading