A glossy photobook sits on the coffee table of the Deep C Industrial Zone offices, surrounded by walls the colour of sunshine and an abundance of indoor foliage.
“Compared with other big cities such as Hanoi and [Ho Chi Minh City], Hai Phong is still the most traditional. There is no Starbucks, no McDonald’s, nor skyscrapers (yet),” reads the introduction of the book, Hai Phong Through the Eyes of a Foreigner.
Commissioned by industrial firm Deep C for their 20th anniversary, the book was intended to provide a snapshot of Vietnam’s third-largest city 120km east of Hanoi, little-known to foreigners except for its proximity to tourist hotspots Ha Long Bay and Cat Ba Island. Now, just two years later, a busy Starbucks is nestled in the city’s core, and the skeletons of future skyscrapers are dotted with construction crews – though still no sign of a McDonald’s franchise.