Author Archives: mike

Hanoi-based American journalist.

Against the grain

The Economist January 18, 2014 HANOI AND CHAU DOC THE prospect from Sam mountain, a rocky outcrop in southern Vietnam’s Mekong delta, is timeless. Paddy fields shine emerald. Irrigation canals reflect the sunlight like mirrors. Three times a year, farmers in surrounding towns put on their rubber boots and plant rice seedlings in the deep […]

Traditional Laotian Homes Get a Second Life

International New York Times January 16, 2014 XANG KHONG, Laos — Plans for some land beside the Mekong River changed when Steven Schipani of Bay Shore, New York, and his fiancée, Veomanee, decided to get married. For some time Ms. Veomanee, who, like many in Laos, just uses one name, had intended to use the […]

Slowly, Asia’s Factories Begin to Turn Green

The New York Times January 7, 2014 HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — When Intel went about setting up its chip factory in Vietnam, it found an oddity: Local laws did not govern every aspect of the building. The government had no comprehensive standards, for instance, on refrigerant chemicals, which in the United States are […]

Seeking the Ambience of Singapore’s Streets

International New York Times December 13, 2013 SINGAPORE — By the time Lisa and Michael Johnson moved to Singapore in 2011, they were tired of living in high rises. The American couple, both senior executives in financial services, had spent a total of 12 years in Tokyo, Shanghai and Mumbai. Their apartments in those cities, […]

Singapore Takes the Lead In Green Building in Asia

Yale Environment 360 December 16, 2013 At street level, 313@somerset looks like any other glittering mall in downtown Singapore. But on closer inspection the eight-story building has skylights, solar panels, energy-saving elevators and escalators, highly efficient air-conditioning units, and software that monitors the building’s carbon dioxide emissions. Across town, a new hotel, Parkroyal on Pickering, […]

Abstract Maps That Read Between the Lines

International New York Times December 5, 2013 HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — At a recent art event in the United Arab Emirates, Tiffany Chung was asked by a journalist to explain the sourcing for one of her artworks, a cartographic drawing of land-mine removal in Afghanistan. The journalist wanted to be sure that the […]

Optimism Over Vietnam Property, With Caveats

New York Times December 3, 2013 HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam — Dinh Thien Thien’s barbecue business bloomed just as Vietnam’s property market wilted. It was not a coincidence. more

Party People

Banyan | The Economist November 18, 2013 SOME Western advocacy groups imply, in their regular harangues of Vietnam’s human-rights record, that the country is run by an all-powerful and well-oiled authoritarian regime. The truth, however, appears to be more complicated. more

Celebrating in a ‘Land Time Forgot’

International New York Times November 6, 2013 LUANG PRABANG, Laos — Race weekend near this small town at the confluence of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers brought cloudy autumn skies and scores of neon-shirted rowers carrying wooden oars. The racing boats whizzed by against a backdrop of jungle foliage and low-rise concrete homes. Spectators […]

Myanmar Buddha sculpture returns home after wild ride

Christian Science Monitor November 2, 2013 YANGON, MYANMAR In 1989, four ancient sculptures were taken from a pagoda near Bagan, a city in central Myanmar known for its 11th-century religious structures and artifacts. One of the sculptures, a damaged sandstone Buddha measuring less than two feet tall, is widely regarded by scholars as an integral […]

Blowing in the trade winds

The Economist October 19, 2013 BY SOME measures, Vietnam’s economy is moving at a brisk clip. The double-digit inflation that prevailed in 2011 has subsided, and exports of textiles and electronics are booming. Foreign direct investment is up by 36% year-on-year, according to Fitch, a ratings agency. Yet GDP growth is rumbling along slowly: just […]

Vietnam presses ahead with ambitious nuclear plans

Associated Press October 17, 2013 HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Vietnam is pressing ahead with Southeast Asia’s most ambitious civilian nuclear energy program despite safety fears over the technology following the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Foreign companies and governments are competing to get a toehold in an industry that could be worth $50 billion by 2030, according […]

Culling Myanmar’s Past for Memories

International New York Times October 17, 2013 YANGON, Myanmar — When Wah Nu and Tun Win Aung graduated with arts degrees from a Myanmar university in 1998, they had few prospects for earning a living as artists. Their resources were meager, and the country’s fine-arts infrastructure was virtually nonexistent. When they looked to the future, […]

Beyond Pho: Going Off the Eaten Track

International Herald Tribune October 10, 2013 HANOI — At 8:35 a.m. on a recent Friday morning, Justin Yap stood in the lobby of his hotel wondering what he would eat for breakfast. He had traveled to Vietnam on business, but he had nothing scheduled until 3 p.m.; Mr. Yap, a Canadian who is based in […]

A boomerang for the zombies?

Banyan | The Economist October 3, 2013 SOME of the 40,000-plus employees at Vinaconex, a state-owned Vietnamese construction firm, find themselves in a difficult position. They are tired of not being paid wages they are owed, yet afraid to quit for fear they won’t find work elsewhere. A few are leaning on their families for […]

Electricity in Vietnam: A heavy load

The Economist August 31, 2013 IN 1894 Prince Henri d’Orléans published a book of his journey through France’s then-sprawling empire. His florid account was largely upbeat. Yet it soured along the northern coastline of Vietnam, where he lamented the “dilatory attitude of a red-tape administration” when it came to exploiting the area’s coal reserves. Now […]

In Myanmar, Sailing in the Wake of Kipling and Orwell

International Herald Tribune August 30, 2013 ON THE IRRAWADDY RIVER, Myanmar — When Daniel and Susy Florens booked a five-star honeymoon with stops in some of Asia’s premier luxury destinations, Myanmar seemed like just another stop on the itinerary. They had agreed to take a five-day cruise along the Irrawaddy River on the recommendation of […]

From Outsiders to Innkeepers in China’s Sleepy Countryside

New York Times August 13, 2013 XIZHOU, China — Brian Linden welcomed the guests to his boutique hotel in one of its courtyards at the end of a cobblestone alley here, surrounded by old stone walls and polished wood balconies. He invited the group, from Greenwich, Conn., to peruse the hotel’s book collection, which he […]

The Rise of Rubber Takes Toll On Forests of Southwest China

Yale Environment 360 August 1, 2013 In the 1960s, when Zhou Fabei moved to Xishuangbanna prefecture, a tropical corner of southwest China’s Yunnan province, he quickly landed a job building roads for new rubber plantations. The timing of his move from the populous central province of Hunan couldn’t have been better for him: China’s post-revolutionary […]