Viet Nam

authenticity and provenance

Xin Chào from Mũi Né,
One of the significant consumer trends in recent decades has been the big shift away from fake towards authentic. It’s a reaction to the relentless upsurge of fakery in all sorts of consumer items. The Chinese manufacturing juggernaut has flooded the world with plastic this and counterfeit that. Even international travellers – especially international travellers – who seek out mementos and souvenirs come face to face with an ocean of kitsch, tacky and downright crass. 

   This begets a lot of shallow marketing which asks “What do westerners want for breakfast?” (as if there was a single answer to that question anyway) or “What typical accoutrements do others associate with our culture?” (so we can therefore produce plastic imitations of those things). Some of this landfill is conveniently on sale in departure lounges, even here in Việt Nam.

any hotel, any city

      For the tourist who is hellbent on holing up in a place which reminds them of home, or a hotel which fits the description of any hotel in any city, the mystery is why they bother to travel at all. They’re the types who don’t worry themselves about authentic anyway. Purchasing a plastic Eiffel Tower, or a Delft ornament made in China or an unplayable didgeridoo is just a logical extension of the pointless journey anyway. These are not the ones for whom the provenance of the article matters anyway. On the other hand, for an increasing number of discerning consumers, authenticity and provenance do matter.

collecting bait Mũi Né beach, just south of Phan Thiết

    Mũi Né is a beachside town in southern Việt Nam. This is where you see the real thing. In the exquisite garden which contains bougainvillea in dense flower and other beautiful tropical plants like coconut palms and papaw trees, we can hear Việtnamese voices, have cassava cake, agar-agar and dragon fruit for breakfast, wander down to the beach to see the round fishing boats bobbing in the sea and taste the sublime Sinh Tố Dừa (coconut smoothie) for afternoon tea. There’s not a gaudy gewgaw in sight and no plastic kitsch to buy. This is the authentic that more and more consumers are seeking out. Curiously, it’s also where lots of Russian tourists come at this time of year. 

cows on the beach, Mũi Né

  Mũi Né is on a huge east-west bay, with red sandhills and Aloe Vera plantations in the hinterland. It’s in one of the driest regions of the country. Some in my class at school say it’s the romance capital of Việt Nam. The ocean water is tropical warm and the breeze is a constant cooling influence. We’ve had three azure days, occupying ourselves with swimming, reading and walking on the beach. It’s always nice to find the genuine in among the dross (not that there’s much of the latter in Việt Nam). 

fake vs genuine

   When we are bombarded with fakery, we become better attuned to spotting the fakes. Mũi Né is the real deal. I think Linda has pencilled it in on the Come-Back-To list, too.

hẹn gặp lại from Mũi Né


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