Oct 30, 2006
Oct 23, 2006
Petrol -- Roughly 10,000d a litre.
Cable TV -- 60,000d per month
ADSL connection from 100,000 per month.
New inner tube after a punture -- maximum 50,000d
Puncture repair -- 5000d
Pair of sports shorts from the market -- 50 Â 80,000d
Electricity -- $40-$60 a month for house running 2/3 aircon units, normal Vietnamese house bill probably $15-$20.
Mobile Phone -- a top up of 100,000 every 3 to 4 weeks.
Bowl of delicious noodle soup over the road -- 10,000 dong.
Mini Hotel -- $7-$12 a night.
20 odd litres of water -- 18,000d.
Orange juice -- 18,000d
Milk -- 18,000d
Beer at Level 23, The Sheraton -- 70,000d
Box ofKelloggs All Bran -- 91,000d
Sunday buffet lunch at 5 star hotel -- $20+
One carton of heat-treated milk costs two times the price of a hearty chicken noodle soup. A box of cereals is the same price as a basic ADSL connection for one month. Two beers on the balcony at the Sheraton would get you a reasonable room in a Pham Ngu Lao mini hotel. One beer would pay your cable TV for a month. My box of All Bran could pay my mobile phone for a few weeks, or two puncture repairs on the street. A buffet lunch on Sunday at a decent hotel pays your electricity for a month, a carton of orange juice costs the same as over 20 litres of mineral water. 30,000d fills up most bikes (3 litres), the same price as a small toblerone from the supermarket.
This lot costs a total of about 130,000d, equal to a full tank of petrol, a month of cable TV, your dinner, and some change.
Ouch! That's a kilo of apples, a kilo of pears, two grapefruits, a pineapple, a bunch of bananas and a massive bag of tomatoes from the market. Or two pairs of fake Nike shorts.
Oct 18, 2006
Access is via a car/motorbike ferry which connects with Nha Be and takes only 10 minutes plus any additional waiting time.
I would recommend doing a trip here without 200 school children, not least because it means the monkeys will have less to grab. Can Gio is not monkey infested, but there is a small nature preserve housing the handbag snatchers and also saltwater crocs. 'Australia Zoo' it isn't -- we climbed off the bus to come under attack from materialistic beasts who were more interested in new mp3 players than bottom scratching, a more natural activity than theft.
I digress, pictures here are from the mud flats at Can Gio.
Oct 16, 2006
They also say this, which I found quite interesting, but I'm not sure why I find it interesting.
'This image is now in the public domain because its term of copyright has expired in Vietnam. According to copyright laws of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, all photographs enter the public domain fifty years after they were first published, and all non-photographic works enter the public domain fifty years after the death of the creator'
Find the page here.
Oct 11, 2006
I can think of a few uses for this powerful drink. It is dripped through black Vietnamese coffee sitting atop condensed, sweetened milk -- in a few minutes I will stir the two together and pour into a bigger glass filled with ice, hence completing the non-literally translated title of the drink - 'Iced coffee with milk'.
1) Skim off the coffee before it turns radioactive and pour it into the gas tank of your chosen vehicle. You won't be filling up again for a long time.
2) Send off a sample to NASA.
3) Dilute the coffee with some water and save money on those pesky industrial products such as bleach and white spirit. Just the smell will have your emulsion curling from the wall.
4) If you have one of those bullet proof glass windows with two holes through which you extend your arms into accordion style gloves, set up a kind of amateur science lab, maybe mixing different chemicals with the coffee. Who needs semtex anyway?
5) Drink it. Savour the uniqueness of the sweet coffee, and then sit back as the liquid energy rush sweeps through your viens and floats away with your brain.
Oct 9, 2006
And on Tuesday last week, about 50 yards downstream, sure enough, the river spilled its banks.
If you really want to go swimming, a better alternative is one of the fantastic Olympic size pools around town, especially at lunch times. Open at 5am, the mornings are busy. From 11am-2pm (the lunch time session) the pool is deserted. Swim a few unobstructed laps and then lounge around in the shade with a book before going home for a nap - who said a day in HCM involves becoming covered in grit and horn-deaf? The evenings are also not a bad time to go - from 5-8. I go to the Hai Quan swimming pool which is just 2 mins drive from the Sheraton Hotel and the heart of D1 -- all the slobby office expats up there could do with taking a longer lunch and making use of this great facility. It costs 18,000 dong for a swim. Off hand I can think of four other such pools all within easy reach of the city, I'm sure plenty more exist. Apologies for the wonky photo.
Oct 4, 2006
Oct 3, 2006
I won't blog about the fact that Con Dao has beautiful rocky coves and long deserted sandy beaches, I'd rather just speak about some of the stranger things observed from this remote place. I say remote, it's only a 45 minute flight from HCM, but it may as well be 3 hours out into the South China Sea. Previously the home of a large prison used first by the French and then the Americans, they say that a total of 20,000 Vietnamese were killed here. Only a handful of western tourists visit the island. There are only 6,000 people living on Con Doa with 2,000 of those soldiers as the Vietnamese government retains training facilities in this location. This means that even the main road through the town of Con Son can be ghostly quiet even in the middle of the day.
I'm not sure if it was because of the storm that hit Da Nang in the past few days (of which we felt the tail end on Saturday), or if it is simply normal, but the town was full of groups of ragged looking men wandering around, and almost walking into lamposts and falling down manholes when they saw us....they were even staring at Chi like they'd never seen a women before. It turns out that they were all fisherman who live on their boats. They 'disembark' to eat or pass the time whilst waiting to go out again. There were a lot of them, then again, there were a lot of boats.
If I had to pick one adjective to use for Con Dao, it would be 'rugged', although that may be influenced by the wind and rain we experienced. The coastline, interior, and beaches were dramtic anyway, and it's always great to drive a motorbike along a windy coastal road whilst enjoying the views.
The town has some immaculate streets, so it makes sense to ban the following. You don't want any big turds on the road, do you?
The strangest thing of all, apart from the 41 room hotel with nobody in it, were the 'Stick Fighters' of Con Dao. We saw a group of men, not even teenagers, having a nightime fight using huge sticks, 'Little Jon' stylee. It would be one of those reports you sometimes see on the news; bizarre happenings in remote places that go on unknown to the rest of the world. Even more worrying, the next day I saw two kids no older than 10 practicising their stick fighting skills with mini-staffs, as if they were just waiting for their opportunity to be in a real 'stick fight'.
So that's it. Good hiking through the hills, great snorkelling and diving allegedly, but Koh Samui it ain't.