In some ways, the Internet is starting to look more like the real world, with cities, universities and even shopping districts erecting cyber equivalents. Little Saigon is one of the latest communities to find itself on the online map.
The bustling Vietnamese business district in Westminster has a sister city in cyberspace called littlesaigon.com, an Internet site launched last year by Little Saigon Net Inc., a Huntington Beach-based company owned by Michael Vu.
The site, one of several Vietnamese pages on the World Wide Web, offers a directory of local businesses, a map of Little Saigon, Vietnamese news stories and links to information about the local weather and traffic conditions.
Vu charges rates ranging from $6 to several hundred dollars each month to place ads on the site. "Browsers from Japan, France, Vietnam and all over the world are looking at the home page," Vu said, adding that the site is getting about 600 visits a week.
Visitors who want their information in Vietnamese have to download special software to handle some of the symbols and accents of that language. But unlike Chinese, Cambodian or other Asian languages based on character alphabets, Vietnamese uses the Western alphabet. That enables Vu to use American computers and keyboards for writing both English and Vietnamese text for the site.
"It makes our life a lot easier," Vu said.
The Little Saigon Web page can be found at http://www.littlesaigon.com.