Category Archives: Vietnam

MIM Asia Field Study Part 3 – Vietnam

By Jake Culian

Well our grand journey has come to its last stage. After leaving Shanghai we traveled further into Southeast Asia and ended up in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam.  Since we arrived late on a Friday night we spent the weekend doing cultural tours.  Our first tour took us down into the Mekong River Delta where we took multiple boat rides, some nice walks and a motorcycle buggy ride.  Here we’re enjoying the warm temperatures, the river breeze and coconut milk.


The second day of our cultural tour took us through the Presidential Palace and the Vietnam War Museum. Featured below is the exhibit on Agent Orange. At least for me personally it was definitely one of the rougher sections of the trip.  From the perspective of a business person it makes me think about the long term consequences of the sort of chemical products we create and use in business as well as on a daily basis.


The first company visit we had was with a Vietnamese Pharmaceuticals company called Amvipharm.  They are one of the companies working to fulfill the local need for antibiotics and dialysis fluids with plans to expand their productive capacities.  This visit was interesting because it gave us a look at the countries growing health insurance industry.  Afterwards we were treated to a lunch at a very tasty local restaurant.


The second company we visited was a commodities firm called Louis Dreyfus.  This international firm has a “farm to fork” policy where they try to secure vertical control of their supply chain.  This goes all the way down to creating symbiotic long term contracts with their crop producers where they help them become more efficient and sustainable.  One of the things I found most interesting here was all the different ways they had to work to control multiple sorts of risk and their use of insurance, forecasting, and the futures market.


Over the course of the trip there were several opportunities to take additional tours or excursions, like an acrobatic show. Here is the possible tour of the Cu Chi tunnels which four of our classmates took part in.  This tour shows some of the places and methods that the Viet Cong used to hide during the Vietnam War.  I didn’t take part in this tour, but I’m fairly certain there’s no way I was going to fit in that hole.


Near and dear to many Portland natives is Nike.  During our time in Vietnam we got to visit one of their 65 contract factories which produce almost half of their total footwear per year.  We got to hear from both the local corporate side of Nike as well as talk to the local factories management and their ongoing efforts to improve efficiency.   After coming seeing just how automated the factories in Japan were it was interesting to see the mix of automation and sheer manpower behind creating all these shoes.


Our last visit was to Datalogic, an Italian tech firm which mainly produces scanners and bar-code readers.  This facility offered us some of the most direct comparison on the differences in companies in Vietnam and China.  Datalogic and a firm I discussed earlier, Hella, had very similar layouts, but Hella made much more efficient use of its space and was far more organized.  This all said Datalogic received a Priority Enterprise Certificate from the government of Vietnam which grants it many privileges.


As our trip came to a close we spent some time at the Vietnam International University where we explored their campus and visited with local students.  After listening to short lecture we reunited with our professor and got right down to the serious business of singing.  Many groups had gone out to Karaoke at various points on the trip, but here we had a live audience of local students.  To wow them with our talents, our program director started off with a duet with one our cohort members and then we serenaded them with Chinese songs we had learned for the New year.


After we finished singing we dragged everyone down for the largest group photo of our entire trip.  The students here had been extremely welcoming and nobody had booed us off stage so I think it was a pretty great success.  Particularly fun for me was some assistance from a local student in finding an awesome Salsa club to go dancing at later that night in downtown Ho Chi Minh.


Well it was a crazy trip full of long plane rides, lots of buses, and even more awesome memories. Ho Chi Minh was definitely my favorite part of this trip, I loved the environment and the food was delicious.  Here was our closing banquet where we talked about plans for spring break and enjoyed one more night spent with each other before many of us started our mad dash back to the US.  While I went home the next day I highly recommend staying in Asia someplace, but do yourself a favor and make sure to rest a bit before you come back cause when you do school is waiting to start off sprinting.



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Filed under Asia Trip, Business and Asia, Business Tours, Vietnam

MIM Asia Field Study Part 2 – China

By Jake Culian

Last time we discussed our travels through Japan, but as soon as that was over the MIM cohort of 2015 dashed off to Shanghai.  While we had all greatly enjoyed Japan it was time to continue our adventure and visit one of the largest cities in China.  To start things off we had lunch on our first full day there on the eastern side of Shanghai.  In the background you can see faintly one of the tallest buildings in Shanghai.

China 1

One of the first companies we went to visit was an electronic car components manufacturer named Hella.  Hella is a German based firm with 4 facilities in China and we got to visit their Chinese headquarters.  This firm produces many car parts which include circuit boards or other electronic components and this facility prides itself for having the lowest defect rate among Hella factories.  After viewing their factory we got to talk to a top facility manager who was able to discuss with us many of the issues of their business in Shanghai and new market trends.

China 2

While we had traveled by bus on all our company visits in Tokyo while in Shanghai we got a special treat and got to ride the bullet train up to Nanjing to visit one of the Hanes factories.  It was amazing watching the speedometer march up towards 300 km/hr and not feel anything.  The Hanes factory was interesting in that they actually ship 70% of their yarn to China from the US and then ship the cut products elsewhere to be made into garments and finally back to the US as a finished good.  The excitement wasn’t over though because on our way back into Shanghai our train stopped less than a mile outside the station for an hour because of technical issues.  Guess everything can’t go smoothly.

China 3

One of our two cultural excursions during the China section of the trip took place in Nanjing where we got to visit the Nanjing History Museum.  Never one to miss the opportunity for a photo when we saw the development of man pictures we just had to recreate them as a development of the modern businessman.  The museum had a wide variety of artifacts from many different periods of Chinese history including pottery, art, furniture and recreations.

China 4

The next day we returned to making company visits and this time visited a Toll Global Forwarding facility located nearby our hotel in Shanghai.  The Toll Group is an Australian based logistics solutions provider which prided itself on coming up with innovative total solutions which help companies in more ways than just cutting costs in logistics.  In the background you can see an example of these logistics solutions where they would pick and pack multiple types of wine and send them together to end users as a way of saving their customer an addition step in the shipping process.

China 5

One of my personal favorite things about Shanghai was how centrally located we were.  Below you can see the hotel with a spaceship on top.  That’s the Radisson Blue Hotel and it’s located on Nanjing Road, a major commercial area with lots of shopping and amazing food.  From the hot pot restaurant we nicknamed painful pot to the Xinjiang style restaurant 2 blocks from where we were staying we never lacked for good food.  The park across the street had a really fun bar in a little pond as well.  Then of course there were the two buildings we decided were probably Sauron’s tower, one of which you can see right in the middle here.

China 6

My favorite company visit was this one below, a flavoring and fragrance company called Symrise.  Our host was a little hesitant about our visit and started out not entirely pleased to see us, but like everyone we have visited on this trip so far we were able to win them all over.  Everyone we have talked to so far has been surprised how international our cohort is and then even more surprised how challenging the questions we ask are.  Since school has started some class members have struggled with being forced to speak up and exit their comfort zones, but now we get to see the vast rewards as potential employers are impressed time and again by the level of thought we present.

China 7

Our second cultural tour was visiting Suzhou University about an hour and a half outside of Shanghai.  This was the second of three colleges that we will visit and seeing how different programs work is an extremely valuable part of this trip.  In addition it allows us to start making connections with people who are going to be working in the same sort of fields we will be.  The students guided us around Suzhou and then took us to a large garden complex.  It was fun getting to walk around a more traditional Chinese city and cool to get to know more international students.

China 8

As business students it would never do to leave a city like Shanghai without doing some firsthand research on local small business strategy.  Towards this end many of visited the old market district up near the bund above our hotel.  Walking through the market was a little bit of an overwhelming experience with huge numbers of people and endless little shops.  Since this is China they also take their lights and colors seriously as can be seen below.  Don’t let the colorful exterior fool you though, the shop owners are vicious bargainers.

China 9

And now we come to the end of our time in Shanghai and the beginning of the next adventure.  Our time in Shanghai wasn’t very long, only until the afternoon of Friday the 13th but we all had a fun time.  As the trip kept going we all started getting tired from the constant running around, but with only one country left we can’t stop now.  Here we’re waiting with our brave program director in the Shanghai International Airport for our airline to let us check in.  It was a great time in Shanghai, and next stop Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam!

China 10

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Filed under Asia Trip, Business and Asia, Business Tours, China, Food, Japan, Vietnam

Tips for doing business in Vietnam

Vietnam is one of the popular country that many investors are interested to invest. Vietnam located in Southeast Asia Region which having about 88 Million people. Vietnam is a culturally rich country whose distinct history played a role in the development of the modern day state. Percent of income per capita is about 10.6%.  The official language is  Vietnamese. Their money currency is Dong or VND. GDP of purchasing power parity is $241.8 billion. Today we have a tips for doing business in Vietnam for readers. What you should do and what you should not do in order to develop strong and successful business relationships with Vietnamese counterparts.

1. Vietnamese Culture – Key Concepts and Values tradition

  • Confucianism– Based on the teachings of the early Chinese philosopher , Confucian teachings emphasise the importance of relationships, responsibility and obligation. This philosophy is still a vital component of Vietnamese society and is prevalent in Vietnamese business culture in conserving the harmony of the collective good.
  • Face– The idea of saving face is very important concept in Vietnamese society. The Vietnamese will do anything to prevent loss of face, even if it means to avoid confrontation or telling others what they want to hear rather than dealing with immediate issues. Criticising someone in public and not staying true to promises are various ways that people may lose face. Continue reading

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Filed under Business and Asia, Pear's Entries, Vietnam

MIM hits the road to Asia!

As the number of Asian students attending the graduate business programs at Portland State University has significantly increased over the decade, the university has been sending a representative to recruit students from Asian countries for more than ten years. Likewise, this year PSU officials will join 50 other business schools on an all-Asia tour.

In the coming September, Kelly Doherty, the assistant marketing director of PSU Graduate business programs, will travel to one city each in Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and Thailand. The schedules are as followings.


Thursday September 1, 2011- Tokyo, Japan

Venue: Hilton Tokyo Hotel  (Address: 6-2 Nishi-Shinjuku 6-chome, Tokyo, Japan)

Time: 15:30 – 21:30


Saturday September 3, 2011- Taipei, Taiwan

Venue: Grand Formosa Regent Taipei (Address: 41, Chung Shan North Road Section 2, Taipei, Taiwan)

Time: 9:00 – 16:30


Monday September 5, 2011- Seoul, South Korea

Venue: JW Marriott (Address: 19-3 Banpo-dong Seocho-gu, Seoul, 137-040 Korea)

Time: 16:00 – 21:30


Wednesday September 7, 2011- Beijing, China

Venue: Peninsula Hotel (Address: 8 Goldfish Lane Wangfujing, Beijing, 100006 China)

Time: 15:45 – 21:30


Saturday September 10, 2011- Shanghai, China

Venue: Pudong Shangri-La (Address: 33 Fu Cheng Lu, Pudong, Shanghai 200120 China)

Time: 11:00 – 17:00


Monday September 12, 2011- Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Venue: Legend Hotel Saigon (Address: 2A-4A Ton Duc Thang Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)

Time: 16:00 – 21:30


Thursday September 15, 2011- Bangkok, Thailand

Venue: Shangri-La Hotel (Address: 89 Soi Wat Suan Plu, New Road, Bangkok, Thailand)

Time: 16:00 – 21:30


For more information, please visit


For anyone who is interested in MIM program and lives in the aforementioned countries, this would be a great opportunity to talk and discuss with our staff in details. Please come and join us!

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Filed under Business and Asia, Business Tours, China, Japan, Mao's Entries, MIM GENERAL, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam

The Diary of a Nurse in the MIM Program: Entrepreneurship in Sapa, Vietnam

Meet Gia (pronounced “Ya”) a tour guide for ET Pumpkin Adventure Travel in Sapa, Vietnam. She is a member of the Black Hmong hill tribe people who live in the mountains and valleys of Lao Chai, a few hours trek from Sapa. Gia, in her early 30s, is quite fluent in English but admits that she cannot read or write. However, Gia has plans to someday start her own tour business in Sapa. She is building her clientele by handing out her cell phone number and email address to visiting tourists for referrals for future tours. How does Gia read her emails if she cannot read or write? She asks nice tourists to read her emails to her!

Gia has four children and is quite proud that three out of four go to school–one of her sons stays at home and helps run the household. Gia is also pleased that she and her husband own their land and are fairly well off in comparison to their neighbors. Although the floor in their house is made of packed dirt (very common in hill tribe homes) they have now had electricity for the past eight months.

Gia’s family’s livelihood revolves around planting and harvesting rice. In addition she grows other crops on her property to supplement their diet and raises livestock. She has three pigs and some chickens. Gia is able to contribute more to her family’s income by being a tour guide for ET Pumpkin Adventure Travel. In all of her spare time she is busy weaving and dying fabric from cotton or hemp, sewing, and hand-embroiderying clothes for her family to wear for special occasions. She is currently working on hand-embroidered outfits for everyone in her family to wear for the new year. The hill tribe people are known for exquisite hand embroidery.

Meet Gia, member of the Black Hmong hill tribe posing by pumpkins growing behind her

This is like one of the trails that Gia must trek to get to and from her home in Lao Chai to town in Sapa--she regularly treks in the dark with only the light of her cell phone (this is like the trek that most of our group did with Gia on day two in Sapa)

Gia's aunt weaved, dyed, and sewed this traditional outfit that Gia picked out for me to try on. It consists of a inner coat (no sleeves), exterior coat, and, a fancy wrap belt. Gia laughed and laughed because she thought I could almost pass as a hill tribe person.

Gia took us for a tour of her friend's house in Sapa, Vietnam during our first day of trekking

Gia's friends are sitting around in their house hand-embroidering goods for sale

The hill tribe people are known for their exquisite hand embroidery. They often weave and dye their own fabric from cotton or hemp.

This is indigo dye from a plant that is used to hand dye fabric by the hill tribe people

This is an indigo plant used by the hill tribe people to dye clothing blue

Gia (Black Hmong) and Ali Mondragon (MIM 2011 candidate) posing at the waterfall in Sapa, Vietnam


Filed under Ali's Entries, Vietnam

The Diary of a Nurse in the MIM Program: Christmas in Vietnam

I was a little disappointed that I would be gone to Vietnam during part of the holidays and miss the Christmas decorations back home in Portland, Oregon. Much to my surprise, Christmas decorations are alive and well here in Vietnam — although sometimes interpreted a little differently than in the U.S.. Apparently, Vietnam has a very large Catholic community. I have complied a variety of photo proof from the Vietnamese cities of Hanoi (northern), Hoi An (central), and Sapa (very northern). (Click on the photo to see a bigger version.)

shop in Hanoi

Christmas lights in Hanoi

Christmas in a tailor's shop in Hoi An (Tanya, RN and Ali RN, MIM class of 2011)

Christmas ornaments in Hoi An

Christmas ornament in Hoi An

Christmas decoration in Hoi An

Santa ornament in Hanoi

Typical Christmas ornament on the left but not so typical color-wise on the right in Hoi An

Decorating with spray snow and stencils in Hanoi

Almost like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree in Sapa

Garland in Sapa

Asian Christmas ornament in Sapa (and turquoise garland)

This is a huge silver ant on the tree in Hanoi...interesting...

Christmas scene in Hanoi by Turtle Lake

Christmas decoration in Sapa

Snowflake decoration in Hanoi

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Filed under Ali's Entries, Vietnam

The Diary of a Nurse in the MIM Program: Fishing Village Visit, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

A group of us signed up for an overnight stay on a junk in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, and had the option to visit a fishing village before we got back to port. Five USD per person was the cost of the fishing village/cave tour. Our tour guide explained that the fishing village puts the money from these tours toward the cost of hiring a teacher from the nearest town to provide their children with an education. We transferred from the little shuttle boat that was attached to the side of the junk to an even smaller boat owned by one of the families in the fishing village. A father and son, both locals in the village, took us to see a few of the nearby caves.

The father explained that he has many sons and this one driving the boat is his youngest. His mother is 102 and is still alive and well — we passed her on the way back. She waved to us from her squatting position on a houseboat. There are seven generations of this family living in the fishing village. The men and women tend to marry people from the same village. They catch a variety of sea food to sell for income and store it in baskets and nets in the floating decks of their homes.

Photo op with our cave tour guide "the father"

The team piled into the fishing boat. The driver is the guide's youngest son.

Water peddlers came up to our fishing boat

Entering one of the caves

The first cave takes us to a magnificent rock-enclosed cove

Supposedly they filmed one of the newer James Bond's movies here

Headed under another cave

The floating house we passed with our guide's 102 year old mom waving at us

Looking at his own seafood catches

Inspection of their seafood collection

There was debate on this fish - we were told they were sharks

An assortment of seafood being stored until market day

There were plenty of questions as to what types of seafood were in the baskets

What are these? Cuttlefish?

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Filed under Ali's Entries, Vietnam