Anna Belleforte

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resort to resort, local becomes generic

Posted by Anna Belleforte on February 4, 2019 at 8:45 AM

PhuQuoc is ringed by white sandy beaches and endowed with lush green hills – features that make it an obvious vacation destination. Only 10 years ago it was still predominantly a fishing island, but property developers have moved in and built resorts next to resorts. Not necessarily a bad thing (it does provide employment and economic growth), though there’s the danger of overdevelopment. For a basically Communist country, there’s a lot of unbridled capitalism, from street vendors to property oligarchs. The biggest project underway on Phu Quoc right now is at the southern tip – the Kem Beach and Sun World resort developments. Stretching about 10 kilometers between the two is an already functioning cable car. From this vantage point you see the inhabited huts and fishing boats, the floating houses on the sea and the smaller islands on which the massive columns for the cable system stand. Ok, so the views are worth it and it’s a novel form of island-hopping. What’s odd is that once this whole thing is finished, you enter a sort of alternative world where you needn’t make any contact at all with the real Vietnam. You float above it and at both ends are cocooned in resort life. The resorts are being designed as self-sufficient towns: real streets with lovely paving and lanterns and plenty of retail therapy. But most striking is that the ‘new town’ is distinctly urban and doesn’t resemble or reflect anything remotely Vietnamese (unless it’s perhaps Vietnamese ambition?). The recently completed cable car entrance complex is built entirely in the European style: antique crumbling stone work, Roman columns and Greek music from the speakers. Why?

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