He tells me he’s never travelled outside of Vietnam. I do a quick mind check and can count at least ten Asian stamps in my passport. I feel embarrassed and move the discussion along. We talk about my hometown Paris and which part of Europe he’d like to visit, while I devise ways to have him visit Tokyo for work.
How can he have never travelled abroad? Then I remember a few Tokyo friends who’ve not made it further than Hawaii in 30 years. It’s not that he won’t travel, he travels just fine inside Vietnam, but travelling abroad is simply out of reach. In an age where internet access is near ubiquitous in Ho Chi Minh, where one can jump around the digital globe in seconds, physically taking an airplane and setting out is not getting any easier for these guys.