W8. "Lost of Money from NG" is Falling

Of all the general directors I met in Vietnam, none was as energetic as Mr. Koki Kawata. As our car approached the factory, he and his staff greeted us vigorously waving Vietnamese and Japanese flags. Then he started to talk about his philosophy, his experiences in Latin America, why his workers must apologize to the factory Buddha when a defect was produced, how to stop the disappearance of toilet paper, the way to check the health of female workers, how he negotiated with the lunch provider for tastier food for his workers, etc. etc. We never got to ask about the factory operation. (Tan Thuan/HCMC, Aug. 2004)


W7. Coconut Boy

This boy came from Mekong to sell chilled coconuts in the heart of Saigon. He doesn't go to school, of course. Every day he must work until very late or until all coconuts are sold. The normal price is 3,000d for Vietnamese and 5,000d for foreigners. A hot steaming day is best while he sells very little on a rainy day. But now selling has become increasingly difficult due to the stricter enforcement of the new street children law of 2003. (HCMC, Mar. 2004)


W6. Melia Cyclo Brigade

These are my friends: Vien, Tiep, Tien, Chuc. These five cyclo men (Thap is on a customer call) have a formal contract with Melia, wear provided uniform, and wait in front of the hotel for customers. I see them daily on my way to work. They like me to take photos because my photos are big. Tiep, the leader, is from Hanoi but all others are from a Nam Dinh village and live away from the family who remains in the countryside. (Hanoi, Mar. 2004)


W5. Advanced Shrimp Factory

The most high-tech factory I visited in Vietnam was a frozen shrimp factory which exported 100% of its products. To get inside, you must wear perfect protection, walk through special liquid, and be "rolled" for any remaining hair each time you enter a new room. The tools, vats and counters are disinfected every 30 minutes. A special metal detector checks packed shrimps for foreign objects. The products must be kept exactly at minus 18 degrees until it reaches the market. The Vietnamese general director proudly said, "Can you smell any odor? Everything is perfectly clean here. I learned so much from my Japanese buyers." (Can Tho, Aug. 2003)


W4. Brothers from Hai Duong

Street vendors, cyclo drivers and construction workers in Hanoi are rarely Hanoians. City people will not engage in hard jobs like that. These two brothers are from Hai Duong. They first asked me the time. Then we got into the standard conversation: name, home, profession, age, number of children... They were shocked to hear that I was a professor; they had never talked to one. Why are country people so nice and friendly? (Hanoi, Oct. 2004)


W3. Lady Construction Workers

The road in front of my house is under construction. Actually, perhaps entire Vietnam is under construction. I sometimes watch the workers work. These ladies are scooping a pile of cement into the mixing machine. They are dressed too well for the task. Note also the adequate protection from dust and the sun. But it is a tough job for ladies all the same. I must admit that, after comparing men and women working on it, men are far more powerful and effective than women in this kind of jundertaking. (Hanoi, Oct. 2004)


W2. No Customers

All over Vietnam, sellers must devise ways to kill time. Maybe they even enjoy it. Whether you sell magazines or tangerines, stay in the shade, relax and wait for the customer to arrive. (Hanoi, Oct. 2004)


W1. Clothes Seller on Yen Phu Street

Yen Phu Street was widened to accommodate greater traffic flows two years ago. Many people were forced to relocate and the row of houses in the back are where such resettled people live. On this modern highway, a cart full of (Chinese?) clothes passed in front of me at a more traditional speed. (Hanoi, Oct. 2004)