ACCUMULATING PERIPHERALS


Luxury cars on the streets of Hanoi by mattsteinglass
December 5, 2009, 1:05 am
Filed under: Vietnam

Vietnam is entering that period of its economic development, passed through by most countries on their way to industrialized wealth, in which it destroys everything that used to be valuable about its built environment, makes every possible stupid mistake in failing to adapt its landscape to the coming threat of wealth and modernity despite abundant warning from neighboring countries that have gotten there first, and generally attempts to make itself look like a fat, ignorant, corrupt executive’s conception of Orange County, CA. In underdeveloped countries, especially a Communist one like Vietnam, the distastefulness of this phenomenon is exacerbated because, lacking any longstanding indigenous wealthy class, the newly fantastically rich take to the phenomenon of wealth as if they had just invented it. The idea that there might be anything crass or displeasing about gross displays of conspicuous luxury in a country where per capita GDP remains just over $1000 does not seem to enter people’s heads. And so you get this:

 

Lovely color for a Rolls. Matches the flag.

Lovely color for a Rolls. Matches the flag.

And this:

 

Maserati sedan sits in traffic in downtown Hanoi.

Maserati sedan sits in traffic in downtown Hanoi.

Ecco anti-GFC stimulus spending! The really absurd thing is that it’s virtually impossible to drive through the Old City of Hanoi in a car, especially at rush hour, let alone park anywhere. The purpose of owning a fantastically expensive luxury automobile (and import tax on such cars in Vietnam is in the range of 100%; a Rolls can run well upwards of $1 million) is purely to drive around in them showing off. The Maserati above contained three people in their early 20s, the driver wearing ripped jeans. Who bought the car for him? Who knows? It was past 5 pm, and they sat in rush-hour traffic on Ly Quoc Su, inching towards the intersection of Hang Gai, for 15 minutes. The stereo system sounded great, though.

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