Sidewalk City, “Remapping Public Space in Ho Chi Minh City”
It is an incredibly well informed introductory chapter on the sidewalks of Ho Chi Minh City. Even though they do not have the necessary tools to see and comprehend the events occurring near them, Kim and her team (consisting of Vietnamese and Americans) researched thoroughly into the subject, outlining the problems of it’s use of public spaces and property rights. At the same time, looking at it’s spatial ethnography and critical cartography. From a foreigner’s perspective, Kim states her processes on how she had cultivated a deep understanding for the Vietnamese way of life. I’ve drawn insights that we shouldn’t unnecessarily judge too quickly while conducting the research and to also interact with locals for a more qualitative result.
While I have not been to Vietnam, I would relate with the usage of sidewalks similar to the streets of Singapore’s Chinatown, where a road would transform into bustling food stalls at night. It is an avenue for people of all ages to gather and interact, and have a good time together. As much as it is to food, there are also stalls on the roads selling snacks and souvenirs.
Question 1: Shouldn’t there be a dedicated spaces to host sidewalk activities without being pressured by the local authorities in HCMC? Drawing some experience from Singapore where there’s a “Speaker’s Corner” at Hong Lim Park, served as a exclusive area for freedom of speech – I felt that Kim’s idea of constructing a “tourist’s map” would actually distance the locals from entering as it would be popularised, landmarked and crowded.
Question 2: With an upcoming generation of technology and e-services, to what extent would these sidewalk vendors thrive in the long run?