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Tech Postcard from Asia

Sara Goo

I recently returned from a three-week vacation in Asia. It's funny how you can gain a fresh perspective in that amount of time.

My first reaction: Google is not everywhere. I was pleasantly suprised to find Internet access everywhere and available for free, whether we were in Siem Reap, Cambodia, or a coffee shop in Hong Kong. In general, It's far easier to find a free computer with Internet access there than it is in the United States. And everywhere I went, I was greeted with Yahoo or, surprisingly, MSN Messenger. Whenever I would check my free GMail account, I'd see the hotel or cafe staff curiously peering over my shoulder. Of course, people using these kinds of public Internet access terminals are mostly checking their email and Google has a long way to go with broadening the adoption of their free Web mail. People in the United States tend to get themselves into a frenzy over the power and potential of Google. It was funny to see how the legacy of Yahoo still dominates overseas.

My second reaction: It's impressive to see how technology adaption has leapfrogged over old tech in some of the developing nations I visited. When vsiting the ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, our tuk-tuk driver would drop us off and then make calls on his cell phone while he waited for us to walk through the temple. In Hanoi, it seemed nearly everyone was drove a moped and carried a blinged-up cell phone with fun ring tones.

And when we were in Vietnam, I read a hilarious newspaper story about how bloggers in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) had gotten into an online spat with bloggers in Hanoi about which city had the more cultured population. Basically, those in Saigon think they are more hip than their more conservative, fashion-challenged Hanoi counterparts. It kind of reminded me of the uproar when the Post ran its own story outlining the differences between NoVa (Northern Virginia) and RoVa (Rest of Virginia).

Funny how, thousands of miles away, some things really aren't much different.

By Sara Goo  |  December 14, 2006; 2:27 PM ET  | Category:  Sara Goo
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I believe Gmail remains an invite-only service; you probably could have launched a gmail revolution in Asia by sending out a couple of invites to locals...

Posted by: Jester | December 18, 2006 10:02 AM

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