Weeknote 0025

Ho Chi Minh City

  • From Osaka, flew to Ho Chi Minh City. The first thing that’s striking is the traffic: there are road signals and markings, but herds of cars submerged in swarms of mopeds pay little attention. The next striking thing is the humidity, and the third is the wealth inequality. I felt conspicuous.
  • My sense is that Vietnam gets nicer the further from the cities you travel. Maybe I should have had a go at that 20 years ago. Still, it’s interesting to spend a day in a different city. Walked around some of the most famous sights. At the historic post office, three recent graduates stopped me for a conversation to practice their English. Sweet kids. I said some things that were on my mind about privilege.
  • Then took to the observation floor of the incongruous Bitexco Financial tower as the sun went down. Strange city, this. Both highly functional and deeply broken. I feel like almost everyone is being held down, somehow.
  • I fared better on the 12-hour flight back to Heathrow than I had on the way out via Hong Kong. I find the jetlag easier westward; I might even have slept a bit on the plane. When you’ve spent time somewhere like Japan, the amateurishness of Heathrow is stark; it took an age to disembark. Then a series of train-rides home; all seeming a bit half-arsed after the Shinkansen.
  • Two weeks is the amount of time I need to break from work. It takes ten days for my brain to stop trying to solve work problems, and the full fortnight for me to forget whatever it is I do. So I returned to my desk feeling fresher than I can remember.
  • Had the great pleasure of lecturing again for the Accelerate programme at the Judge Business School. I do a hot 90 on DIY brand-building for the benefit of startups and young ventures. I’d rejigged the deck slightly since the last time through, to take out the bits that always seem to drag. I might have cut too deep: it’s now a little ranty. But hopefully useful to people. I always get nice feedback from folks, so I hope they can make use of it all. And it keeps me sharp.
  • Instructed a solicitor to put together a will, which felt grown-up. I’m going to put in an annual reminder to update it. This first version is a functional answer to “what are we supposed to do with all Mo’s stupid stuff?”. Over the course of the coming year, I’d like to think more deeply about important people and what they might find sentimental, useful or funny to inherit.
  • Took the van in for MOT. I have found one of life’s great necessities: a honest garage. I have used them for three years and I intend to keep returning no matter where I am living. This year the van sailed through, which I suppose means the work they did last year has held up. I should really buy a car, too.
  • Went to see Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City; a film that’ll surely polarise. Many movies (maybe most) put their themes, characters and memorable moments into dialogue. Here, I sense Anderson is showing a story rather than telling it, and that will certainly polarise audiences. Loved it.