Hanoi and HCMC metro reports
A flying taxi hub for Singapore, Cebu to be a Singapore-like city, an Amsterdam of the East, and more construction and transport news in Southeast Asia.
Greetings from Saigon. I’ve returned from my trip to Hanoi after riding the new metro line (the first metro in Vietnam) and inspecting the second line under construction.
I didn’t know how I would feel when riding the Hanoi Metro. When I rode the Laos-China Railway I started laughing and then I remarked to my friend how weird it is to be saying “I’m riding a train in Laos”.
In Hanoi, the metro felt so familiar that I almost forgot it was new. Hanoi is a city of almost 10 million people, so of course it would have a metro. And as I mention in my review, all metros are starting to look the same now.
In contrast, I think I will start crying when the HCMC Metro finally starts operating. I’m not even joking. I started basing myself in Saigon the same year that the metro construction began in 2012. Apart from a quick visit to Saigon in 2005, all I have known of Saigon is the construction of the first metro line. This line was supposed to take 5 years to build, but instead, it’s on track to take over 11 years. I’ve tried to not let this frustration seep into my 2022 metro report, and there is some light at the end of the metro tunnel.
My one-month Vietnam visa expires this week, which is why I have bundled the metro reports of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City together. If I had a longer visa I would probably rent a room for 3 months and write more about Vietnam (yes I have that much of a backlog of articles).
The short visa has done me a favour, because I have a trip planned out for the next two months that will cover old and new territory in Southeast Asia, and I am excited at the prospect of expanding coverage of Future Southeast Asia.
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Nusantara has been promoted as a solarpunk Wakanda in the jungle of Borneo (Google “nusantara green energy city“ to see the tone of these articles). Instead, it’s more likely to be another coal-fueled city. While Joko has been showing off bamboo bicycles to my Prime Minister, you would need millions of bamboo bicycles to offset another coal-fired power plant. Prove me wrong, Joko! I want a Wakanda (without Putin-powered trains).
[Updated: Nusantara – New Capital City of Indonesia]
[Updated: Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway]
[Updated: Vientiane – Vung Ang Railway]
Building a new railway while the country is about to run out of money doesn’t sound like the best idea, but this is a private joint venture between FLC Group and Lao Petroleum Trade Company. FLC is a Vietnamese conglomerate that founded Bamboo Airways and owns resorts all over the country. I don’t know how they think they will make money from it, but it makes sense that a petroleum company would want to be involved. With the fuel shortage crisis that has hit Laos over the last few months, having another way to get fuel to landlocked Laos is a good selling point. The railway will link to Vung Ang port, which is 60% owned by Laos, effectively making it the main port of Laos.
I saw this headline and thought it meant they were going to do a Thailand. Instead, it is referring to canals, not cannabis. Usually the comparison is made with Venice (“the Venice of the East” being a popular phrase).
[Updated: New Manila International Airport]
[Updated: Cebu Monorail]
I remarked in last week’s newsletter that it would be too obvious if Marcos tried to rename NAIA. Apparently not.
[Updated: Long Thanh International Airport]
Many of the airports in the southern half of Vietnam are recycled U.S. air bases, and you can still see these war remnants at Danang and Tan Son Nhat in Saigon.