Here it is, part two of a two-parter on 2010 pickings and 2011 predictions. This time, I’ll be sharing my conjectures on what 2011 will bring to the Vietnamese community. I’ve gazed long and hard into the crystal ball, but unfortunately, my immersion into occult practices hasn’t gone far enough that I can predict big-scale things, like the future of Vietnam’s economy or politics. I’ll leave that to the professional fortune-tellers…and to the academics, consultants, and watchdog groups. I can, however, make guesses on slightly less impacting subjects. So let’s get this post rolling.
(Just a heads up–I’m not actually clairvoyant, just occasionally observant. So don’t hold me accountable if none of these come true. Please, thank you, read and enjoy.)
Banh Mi overtakes Pho as Vietnam’s culinary emblem
Pho has long been the snap image of Vietnamese cuisine, and for good reason. The steaming broth, slippery white noodles, and fresh herb toppings all make for a distinctly Vietnamese dish. But Banh Mi has slowly been gaining leverage as a culinary representative of Vietnam over pho. Anthony Bourdain professed his love for banh mi on his No Reservations show (see the video below). Mindy Kaling, who has over a million followers on Twitter, tweeted about it. And, with the renewed popularity of food trucks (or as my parents always call them, “xe lunch”) like the Nom Nom Truck and Phamish, banh mi is going mobile.
It also helps that banh mi itself is extremely portable (in that you don’t have to be sitting down to eat it), and that banh mi is exotic without being intimidating. The pickled daikon and carrots and pate spread, alongside whatever you choose to load your banh mi with, are just enough to be novel to non-Vietnamese tastebuds, but banh mi’s basic bread-and-filling formula is also a staple to many a culture. It’s different, but it’s also familiar. That’s why it’s going to be big.
Tourism stays high
Post-graduation trip backpacking through Europe? Please, that is so Generation X. For Generation Y and Z and Z² and beyond, Southeast Asia is where it’s at. Bicycling around Angkor Wat will replace breakfasting in London, and cross-country cyclo journeys will replace sight seeing in Paris. For the older folks, the romantics, and the Vietnam enthusiasts, the colonial charm of towns and cities like Hoi An and Ha Noi are sure attractions, while those looking to escape the sometimes suffocating atmosphere of modern civilization can enjoy the serene and green rice paddies of Vietnam. Cheap prices and friendly natives only seal the deal, and I’m starting to sound like an overwrought travel brochure here.
As Vietnam Net reports, 2010 saw over 5 million tourist visit Vietnam, and the revenue from tourism went up 37% compared to 2009. The 2010 surge in tourism could be attributed to special events, like Ha Noi’s 1000th anniversary, but I think tourism will remain high in 2011. Vietnam as a vacation site, as opposed to Vietnam a war memory, still has the novelty factor. Let’s just hope all the tourism will be handled with sensitivity, with care for local lifestyles and the environment.
Facebook makes a comeback in Vietnam
Because the social networking site is already on its path to world domination, duh. (Honestly though, you should be visiting OneVietnam.org instead. We’re oh so much newer, and we’re as much a social network as we are a philanthropic/opportunities hub!)
The Economist recently posted a blog about how Vietnam upped the ante in its informal campaign against Facebook, but how much do you want to bet Vietnamese hackers are going to find their way around the block? Not that I know of any hackers myself, I just wouldn’t put it past them, given what we know they can do.
And there you have it, my amateur predictions. Anyone else with other predictions? Maybe someone more learned about economical or social matters than I am? Share your insights. I’m all ears.