It’s been a busy few days here in Ho Chi Minh City. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s going on and what’s to come:
1. I’ve moved into and (partially) furnished an apartment with Sarah in a new apartment complex in District 7. We were hoping for a house rental nearer to the center, but thanks to HCMC’s economic bubble, housing prices are in flux right now. It is now not uncommon to pay $500 – 600 to rent out a floor in a house. Western-style apartments in Saigon largely remain the domain of foreigners, so sizable units in new unfilled apartment complexes can still be rented cheaply. I’ll soon get to work producing an audio slide show highlighting the tower-in-the-shantytown aesthetic of District 7.
2. Now that we’re settled, Sarah and I will join a few friends in Mui Ne this week. After 3 weeks dealing with the smog and heat in Ho Chi Minh, I’m eager to enjoy the beaches and dunes in this quiet coastal town. My prediction is that the Internet/cable guy will still not have come by the time we depart.
3. I’m currently reading Shadows and Wind: A View of Modern Vietnam by Robert Templer. Four chapters in, it’s so far engaging. Like Tobias Jones’s The Dark Heart of Italy — my touchstone for readable contemporary national studies — it does an excellent job of shedding light on the interstices between the personal and political in Vietnam by rooting its analysis in historical context and personal narratives vis-à-vis meticulous, long-term research.