Fresh Perspectives From Hong Kong, A New Destination For Work And Play For Vietnamese | Vietcetera
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Apr 11, 2024

Fresh Perspectives From Hong Kong, A New Destination For Work And Play For Vietnamese

These moments of connection and reflection fuel Hao Tran’s passion for what we do at Vietcetera, always with an eye toward the future.
Fresh Perspectives From Hong Kong, A New Destination For Work And Play For Vietnamese

Source: Discover Hong Kong / Facebook

Last year, I was on the road 25% of the year, away from Ho Chi Minh City.

As a nomadic CEO, my travels often take me to various destinations, each journey always a mix of work and play. Hong Kong is one of those cities that never fails to amaze me with its energy, cityscape, and blend of East meets West. This past week, I found myself back in this city, not just as a tourist, but with a mission: to draw inspiration from The Chiefs Conference hosted by Monocle and to enjoy the art scene in Art Basel.

Source: Hao Tran

Following the relaxation of visa rules by Hong Kong authorities for Vietnamese visitors, the approval rate for multiple-entry visas for Vietnamese nationals saw a significant increase, roughly sixfold compared to 2019. Alongside the influx of Vietnamese travelers, I enjoyed some delicious eats, engaged in dialogue with like-minded brand-builders, and marveled at Hong Kong’s city planning. There’s so much there for Vietnam to learn from. This journey shed light on the intertwined heritage and potential synergies between Hong Kong and Vietnam.

My stay at the Hong Kong EAST hotel in Quarry Bay was a highlight. Nestled in a quieter part of town, the hotel’s exceptional design and connectivity offered an escape from city life, reflecting Hong Kong’s ability to harmonize the rapid pace of urban life with pockets of tranquility.

Source: EAST Hong Kong / Facebook

On my first night, I visited Pici. The restaurant’s simple, comforting Italian food, particularly its seasonal pasta, was a testament to the universal appeal of good food made with passion. The open counter space overlooking the street was a great vantage point for people-watching. Imagine a cozy pasta bar where stories and dishes intertwine amidst Saigon’s bustling vibes—what do you think?

Monocle’s The Chiefs Conference was undoubtedly thought-provoking. Insights from speakers like Lane Crawford CEO Jennifer Woo, who emphasized the “Joy of Experience” and that "everyone at Lane Crawford is a curator" - including the HR and finance teams - resonated. It made me reflect on how Vietcetera can better embrace a similar philosophy to foster a culture of creativity and innovation.

Source: Hao Tran

Noni Purnomo, Chairperson of Blue Bird Group Holding, shared her journey, reminding us of the resilience required to navigate leadership challenges. Her perspective, particularly the humorous yet profound insight: “There’s always light at the end of the tunnel. Just make sure it’s not a train,” struck a chord with me, reflecting the solitary yet rewarding path of entrepreneurship.

And then, Vitor Sereno, ambassador of Portugal to Japan, with his insights into the soft power of cultural influence, made me think about the untapped potential between Vietnam and Japan. On a recent trip to Japan, I was deeply impressed by the strong bond between Vietnam and Japan. Keep an eye out for upcoming Vietcetera initiatives in Japan.

Yuta Oka, CEO of Staple Inc., added to the Japanese inspiration. His hospitality company, which draws mentorship from the legendary Aman Hotels founder Adrian Zecha, had a case study in the spotlight as a developer focused on regional revitalization in Japan. The key project of note was the seaside town of Setoda in Hiroshima, whose population has been declining for years now, leaving the city center without youth and energy. In recent years, a boom of concepts led by Staple’s team has led to bringing the town back to its old energy - which was, at one point, one of the tourist hot spots in Japan many decades ago.

The next day I spent at Art Basel. With 243 galleries from over 40 countries, the event was a microcosm of the global art scene. It’s evident that a young, dynamic generation of art collectors from Asia, particularly China, is changing the art market. Despite the slowing down of the global economy, China’s art market grew by 9% to $12.2 billion, making it the world’s second-largest and repositioning Asia at the forefront of the global art scene. Amidst this global gathering, the presence of a single Vietnamese artist, Thao Nguyen Phan, presented by Zink Gallery, made me proud yet reflective of the visibility of Vietnamese art on the world stage.

My weekend wrapped up with a visit to the Mills, a testament to Hong Kong’s ability to reinvent and rejuvenate its spaces. An old textile factory has been turned into a hub of sustainability and creativity. It’s an interesting model for repurposing urban spaces, something we should ponder back in Vietnam.

Source: Hao Tran

I’m writing this piece as I wait for my flight to Paris - my next destination for the Vietnam Global Leaders Forum - and reflect on this trip to Hong Kong. It reminded me of the power of cultural exchange, the importance of innovation, and the universal language of art.

These moments of connection and reflection fuel my passion for what we do at Vietcetera, always with an eye toward the future. Here’s to more trips like this one, filled with inspiration, insights, and, of course, great eats.