Thursday, October 7, 2010

Professional meetings in HCMC

Today's highlight was our first two professinal meeetings.
The first was with two lawyers and a future lawyer. The atttorneys, Phong Nguyen and Claire Lieberman (on the left - she is an American with Vietnamese parents) took us through the Vietnamese legal system, highlighting family law issues. Their legal system is still under development, much of the family law code was adopted as recently as 1996.

While there are many differences between our systems of law, one similiarity was the primacy in both of the best interests of children. We found it interesting that a judicial would meet with children and ascertain their preferences starting as young as 8 years. old

The afternoon meeting was with two attorneys from a business law firm, including Albert Franceskini (who practiced law in France before moving to Vietnam). We had a general and wide ranging discusson of the Vietnamese legal system, including criminal law, business law and the growing use of private arbitration.

This is an amazing city. I thought New Yorkers and Italians had a distain for traffic laws. That's nothing compared to here. There are thousands and thousands of scooters - sort of like Harley reunion week on steroids. Stepping into the street is taking your life in your hands.
There is a real energy and vibrancy to this city, who many still call Saigon. It is easy to imagine the Saigon of the 60s with its free wheeling reputation.
The money unit is the dong, although dollars are accepted everywhere. That's a good thing because it is about 20,000 dong to the dollar, so when Susan ordered a drink tonight at dinner for 53,000 odd dong, it seem at first like that was quite a lot of dong. When I paid 56,000 (not having exact amount of dongs on me at the time) they didn't even bother to bring change. So far, the lowest dong bill we have seen is 1,000 (we haven't seen any coins) so I'll guess exact change is not a big thing here.
Tonight, we have a group dinner, then an excursion to the "Night market" - described as flea market to buy things for a mother-in-law. Tomorrow: Cruise on the Mekong Delta.

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