Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Saigon Working Class

Many of the people in Saigon make a living on less than 5 dollars a day.  However, in Vietnam a meal at a food stall can be had for under 50 cents (and cheaper if cooked at home), brand name clothes (made here for export) can be purchased for a small fraction of the cost overseas, and housing can be found for under a two dollars a day.  Thus, for the working people in Saigon life is manageable. 

The working people here are great and warm.  If you visit them at their home they will go out of their way to make you feel comfortable by providing you with snacks, tea, and hospitality. The interior of a typical working class home is certainly not luxurious.  The homes are very utilitarian- bare bones essentials are all you will find. 

The typical worker does not have the things that a Westerner would think they could not live without (multiple vehicles, heated shower, walk in closets,  kitchen appliances, tens of outfits, art and knick knacks, flat screen jumbo TV 200 channel satellite digital surround sound system, blah blah etc.).  They don't have the things we work so hard to get and they don't seem to care.  Here, friendships and family are very important and free time is spent with both.  In the west, we have replaced personal relationships with relationships through technology.  

However, the younger generation seems keen on adopting a western lifestyle; I imagine that it won't be long before the people here replace meeting friends for coffee with having virtual coffee on their 3G smartphones while texting a tweet and listening to an ipod on their car stereo.  So it goes.

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