Look Around.

What you see is who you are.

Where you live defines you.

Your street, your neighborhood, your market, your museum, your art, your café, your crime: They all seep into your identity. Your city and its surroundings are the history around your life – they should speak to you about you, and you should listen.

In different places we are different people. When someone says they can be happy anywhere as long as they are with the right person, what they are really saying is they have little idea what a place can do to a life. They are ignoring the single constant of the history of humanity: we move to find a better life. So tell that someone to flip the formula: find the place that makes you happy, and you will be the right person.

In this issue, Oi takes a look at three cities: Saigon, Los Angeles and Hue (page 80). In many ways, Saigon has more in common with Los Angeles than with Hue. Both are economic capitals with major ports, both are renovating their downtowns, both are dealing with urban sprawl and vertical commercial and residential growth. Most importantly, both are planning now the ideal of they want to become, and their versions of urban living are not just for their citizens but for the international stage.

At the other end of such discussions sits Hue, with its placid Perfume River, its Imperial City, and a pace of life that is an escape from all the hustle. Once upon a time, it was the epicenter of Vietnam. Now it appears to sit contentedly close to Danang, a living relic more authentic with its small houses and gardens and trades than most frozen world heritage sites.

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