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I went to Vietnam at very short notice to do a job for the World Bank about housing reconstruction after Typhoon Damrey in Novemeber 2017. Others on the team were reporting on transport, irrigation, agriculture, fisheries and economic development.

Unfortunately I pulled a calf  muscle at dawn on day one running along Nha Trang beach, as shown in the photo, so I didn’t see as much of Vietnam as I would have liked. Nevertheless I did go north up the coast and inland to the highlands to see ieffect of storm and progress in recovery. 

Not surprsingly what they have been through, the Vietnamese seem exceptionally resistant and resourceful.  Over 100,000 houses were damaged by the storm, some comepletely flattened. But most families were back in the homes in time for the New year on 5 February, less than 4 months after the storm. 

Two things impressed me – how they are managing  to balance state control and entrepreneurial zeal, and secondly the nature of gender equality where women hold their own and also manage to massage men’s ego’s.

I loved Vietnam. I liked the food, the way the country is developing and the confidence and directness of the people. I wish I could have stayed a month and seen more. 

 

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