The New Vietnam

 

usine

Hanging Out in Ho Chi Minh City

Vietnam is still a socialist/communist country. As in China, the question is how can free enterprise and communism coexist? In both countries we see a booming private sector. Those who don’t participate are seeing huge disparities in standards of living. When I was in Ho Chi Minh city recently, I went to a trendy coffee shop frequented by young upwardly mobile Vietnamese. L’Usine is the definition of hip. The entrance (see photo), tucked away in an arcade near the Opera House, seems more like it would lead to a storage room, but go up the narrow stairs and you’ll find yourself in an airy, French-motif café. If you’re looking for a place to have that afternoon caffeine fix, try this place out. By the way, “l’usine” means “the factory” in French. Is this socialist irony?

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By Kevin O'Neill

 

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