Although Vungtau has a little way to go before being mentioned in the same breath as Santa Monica, Montreal or London, it is able to boast about having something in common with them: an Apple Store.
If you have already visited an official Steve Jobs Apple Store you might not be too excited about the Ward 1, Ly To Trong Street (at Trang Hong Bao) version, however, if only an ‘Authorized Apple Reseller’ it boasts a far greater selection and appearance than many other resellers in Vung Tau which, upon closer inspection, rarely seem to have more than iPhones or stuffed Angry Birds.
To start there is the ubiquitous large white Apple logo on the grey metal sheeting of the storefront and the interior is spare, bright and clean. While lacking a well stocked Genius Bar the staff on hand are usually able to handle the volume of customers (not many) and assist as required.
In fact it is an oasis of peace and relaxation compared to an Apple Store where brightly coloured Polo shirt clad employees are usually by your side the moment you step in the door. Usually only to log you into the digital queue. Maybe it’s because I’m a foreigner but I was able to stroll around the store and view products without the friendly questioning I’m used to.
Surprisingly the store seemed well stocked with prerequisite items such as iMacs, laptops, iPads, iPods and of course iPhones. There is also a broad selection iPhone covers and cases as well as computer speakers and basic peripherals and replacement items such as mice, keyboards and external drives.
A sampling of prices for the larger items includes 41,990,00.00 VND (+VAT) for a 27inch iMac or 29,990,00.00 VND (+VAT) for a 21inch. A 13inch MacBook Pro will cost you 26,990,000.00 VND (+VAT) and an 11inch MacBook Air 21,990,000.00 VND (+VAT).And, of course, the ubiquitous iPads (1 and 2) ranging in price from 11,990,000.00 VND (+VAT), for the 16GB iPod 1, to 20,990,000.00 (+VAT) for the 64GB iPod 2.
Even though there was no pressure the staff did seem pleasant and happy to assist; at least one employee —a young woman— spoke enough English to answer some basic questions and provide the information I required.