Economics and Business A level students embarked upon an exciting trip to Vietnam in October.
We began our first day with a walking tour around Ho Chi Minh City, visiting some of the main sites such as the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Independence Palace. It was great to experience the hustle and bustle of the city and to see why Ho Chi Minh City is now a popular tourist destination. In the evening we travelled up the towering Bitexco Financial Tower, the tallest building in the city. The views from the top were not to be missed and gave us an insight into the city that we would spend the next week in.
Day two began with a visit to one of Ho Chi Minh City’s largest factories, Coats Phong Phu (a thread producing company). We met with the Managing Director of Coats Phong Phu, Vietnam - Bill Watson. He told us that Coats try to employ local workers and ensure that they gain the skills necessary to work in this demanding industry. He also talked about the future of Coats and how they aim to deal with a changing market. This was followed by a tour of the factory, which for many of us changed our views on factories in South East Asia. Hearing and seeing how Mr Watson focused so much of his time and energy on the workers really inspired us. In the afternoon we visited the War Remnants Museum, a harrowing experience that shed light on the horrors of the Vietnam War.
On Thursday morning we took a trip to the British Consulate General, where we learned more about the economic situation in Vietnam. To learn about why Vietnam has changed to such a growing economy really was a valuable experience. Shortly after we visited Ben Thau market, where some simply took in the hustle and bustle of the stalls, while others tried to get the best bargain for traditional Vietnamese hats or other souvenirs. The day ended with dinner in one of the many excellent restaurants scattered around the city. Everyone enjoyed something different, ranging from noodle soups and fried rice to green tea ice cream and banana cake.
Over the next few days we took several trips out of the city to visit different sites. On Friday we travelled to the Cu Chi tunnels, where the Viet Cong soldiers hid during the Vietnam War. Many of us went down the tunnels, and while they were just about large enough for us, we couldn’t imagine living there for several days. We also took a trip to the coast where we swam and enjoyed the sun on Vung Tau beach. For some it was a chance to relax, while for others it was a chance to enjoy a game of rugby on the sandy shore. All of us got to swim in the South China Sea!
On our final day we took a boat down the Mekong Delta visiting the floating market and a traditional coconut candy producer. For many of us the highlight of the trip was a boat ride on a sampan through mango lined canals that litter the edges of the Mekong River: it was the perfect photo opportunity. Our trip ended with dinner on the boat under the setting sun. A fitting ending to a very memorable tour.
Sam Symes Lower 6th (Year 12)