Today we met early in the morning to fly to our last destination of the onsite seminar. After a two-hour flight we arrived in hot and vibrant Ho Chi Minh City. We had a short break at the hotel to check in and rest or explore the city before we travelled to the KOTO cooking class restaurant. KOTO is a non profit organisation founded by an Australian with the purpose to help at-risk and disadvantaged youth in Vietnam through hospitality training programmes. We were warmly welcomed by the KOTO team and had a short introduction on what they are doing. Then, we visited a local market where a chef from the KOTO team showed us some local products. Afterwards, the cooking class started. Our goal was to prepare and cook three local dishes form the north of Vietnam. First, we prepared fresh spring rolls with pork and prawn which were quite tricky to roll perfectly. The next dish was a fresh papaya salad with spicy beef jerky. At last, we marinated pork with fragrant herbs and spices which was served with noodles and a dipping sauce. To have the chance to cook this menu at home, the delegation received a recipe book with detailed descriptions. Overall, we were provided with interesting insights into the Vietnamese cuisine and useful cooking tips. After eating our delicious self-cooked meals, we went back to the hotel full and happy.
After the free weekend, on which the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi, could be explored, the company visits started again on Monday, April 8th. In the morning we were welcomed by ABB Vietnam. The company presentation gave us an insight into the 26 years lasting history of the technology company with locations in Bac Ninh, Da Nang, Hanoi & HCMC. They also shared their future forecasts & expectations regarding industry 4.0 & digitization of the Vietnamese market. ABB is entering into various partnerships to exploit synergies. These include among others Microsoft and IBM. The tour continued with a visit of three different production lines of high voltage components. After lunch in the ABB canteen we drove with our car back to Hanoi to the renowned Foreign Trade University (FTU), where we were welcomed by the International Business Club. The students presented facts about the ASEAN marketplace and the history of the university founded in 1960 and their business club. We were also introduced to the political and economic situation in Vietnam and its educational system. Finally, we were presented with their views on the opportunities for market entry in Vietnam and the opportunities when doing business in Vietnam. After the exciting presentations we discussed the different topics intensively. In the evening at the hotel our project team organized a surprise for our on-site manager Kevin to celebrate his birthday together with him. There was Vietnamese chicken rice cake and cold beer.
The first day in Vietnam started quite early. We met each other at 7:45 and had a two-hour journey to Trang An, one of the most beautiful and attractive karsts in Vietnam. Our first stop was the citadel Hoa Lu in Ninh Binh. We had a tour leader who provided us on the coach as well as during the whole day with interesting facts about the history of Vietnam. Hoa Lu used to be the capital of Vietnam. It was a natural geographic choice because of the limestone mountains keeping the city well-hidden from potential invaders. It lies 90 km south of Hanoi. Hoa Lu is a beautiful ancient city that was the economic and political center of Dai Co Viet during the 10th and 11th centuries. The next stop was a restaurant where we enjoyed typical Vietnamese food. After lunch we did an amazing boat tour on wild streams through limestone caves. The delegation had also the chance to paddle by themselves and did a few boot races with other boats. We also had the opportunity to just relax and enjoy the gorgeous scenery after the first tiring week in ASEAN. After the boat tour we walked through the Aboriginal village where the reboot version of King Kong – “Kong: Skull Island” was shot. On the coach back to Hanoi we could relax again and reflect this stunning day. In the evening the delegation went out again to get some delicious food and discovered Hanoi by night.