Nov 30, 2006
Thong my money's on you, but I wouldn't rule out Charvey, Kevin or Mel either.
Hang on.......maybe it was henno. It wasn't me cause I just spent my last mil on cosmetic surgery (one of the conditions of my marriage). What in GOD'S NAME am I talking about? This.
Importing luxury goods is obviously still a little tricky.......
"It was slapped with a 90% import tariff, 10% VAT, and 50% special consumption tax"
Only one more thing to say....bagsy shotgun! (I don't know how to say that in American but it means I called the front seat).
Nov 29, 2006
Nov 27, 2006
Firstly, the Raiders, captained by yours truly, won the 15th May School Soccer for the Streets tournament. Thanks henno for a good game in the group! We got a direct pass into the final through being the team with the best record from 5 groups. Granted there was a team of girls in pajamas participating, but the knockout stages were competitive and we beat a fairly decent team from 'Coke' in the final. It was safe at 3-1 especially after our sole Vietnamese player Vu poleaxed their best player with a fair but slightly mental challenge. Pics from the event later, for now, only this one.
Pork on a stick:
Nov 20, 2006
The fact that people aren’t responsible enough for their own safety is evident all across the world, and easily proven right here in Vietnam. Westerners often apply their seemingly higher moral standards when judging the Vietnamese – ‘Well, our countries have laws about this kind of thing’. That may be so – England is the nanny state, and for a reason. If we didn’t have those laws the people would be just as irresponsible about their safety, as proven when foreigners come here and find out they don’t have to wear a helmet, so they don’t. Another important factor here, and the main difference between the west and developing countries is this: laws needs to be enforced. Here, unfortunately, laws are not routinely enforced, and when they are, it’s not for the right reasons. Even though there may be penalties that accompany the law, they can be hurdled with a crisp pink note. If you don’t want to play that game, you’ll be tied up with red tape and sent to bureaucratic hell and you’ll wish you’d just kept your mouth shut and next time, remember to do what the Romans do in Rome. There is only one place your moral crusade will end up here – in a pit of burning resentment.
So, we should talk to people on a personal level, educate, convince and set an example.
Total brain injury cases selected: 1,127
Brain injuries due to road accidents: 859 (76.2%)
Brain injury cases without helmets: 728 (93.1%)
Brain injury cases with helmets: 54 (6.9%)
The following were taken from the same hospital in Ha Noi over 2 months early this year.
Hospitalized cases due to injuries: 5,517
Victims in road accidents: 2,805 (60% of people hospitalized due to an RTA)
Of these 2,805 people, 1,262 (45%) had face & head injuries.
Out of these 2,805 people, 2,632 or 93.85% were not wearing a helmet. Only 25 people or 2% hospitalized with a brain injury were wearing a helmet.
These figures were provided by Mr Dong at UNICEF Vietnam, who responded in length after I found this page about World Health Day 2004 in Ha Noi. The page lists a number of factors explaining the high incidence of child fatalities in traffic accidents, including a ‘limited knowledge about safe driving behaviour’ and a ‘fatalistic view about traffic accidents. Many people do not understand that these injuries are preventable’. UNICEF Vietnam then go on to list a number of potential solutions including organizing children’s competitions on road safety and ‘assisting the commune to provide “child safe playgrounds” where children can play safely away from the traffic’. Mr Dong also pointed me in the direction of Asia Injury Prevention Foundation, an NGO based in Ha Noi who’s mission statement reads:
‘Asia Injury's mission is to reduce the rising number of traffic fatalities in developing Asian countries, starting in Vietnam, and to raise awareness of their social, economic, and human impact'.
They go on to say:
'In Vietnam, nearly 40 people die each day in traffic accidents and twice that number suffer debilitating head injury. This is a result of rapid motorization and modernization, where people have the ability to trade bicycles for motorbikes, creating a highly mobile population. Unfortunately, preventative safety measures have not accompanied this increased motorization. Limited traffic safety education, lack of awareness about the effectiveness of helmet use, and inconsistent traffic legislation and enforcement have contributed to annual death tolls of over 12,000 people in Vietnam. In addition, approximately 30,000 more suffer from severe brain damage or head trauma sustained in traffic accidents'.
I wrote to Grieg Craft, the president of AIPF, and he kindly wrote back inviting me on a tour of their helmet factory. He said "Yes, we have set up the world's first non profit helmet plant, producing a 'tropical' helmet we've designed. All revenues flow back to Asia Injury to help fund our other work. We employ 150 workers, 1/3 of whom are handicapped. We're very proud of the model".
There is also the World Health Organization Helmet Initiative ,which has a more global focus, but as AIPF points out, of the 1.2 million killed each year in RTAs, developing countries account for 85%.
So from now on my wife and I are wearing helmets, and I hope you at least think about it too.
Nov 11, 2006
Here's a jug and a sign. Maybe not the best place for said sign.
Here are some mini hot air ballons. Them seem to be quite popular in Hoi An.
Marble mountain is a 20 minute motorbike drive from Hoi An on the road to Da Nang. It has a lot of marble shops around the bottom where Saigon hotels undoubtedly buy their rearing lions for the lobby. More importantly, it has a temple complex enshrined with trees and inside caves which is well worth exploring.
Upon arrival in Hoi An expectations were high, what with the UNESCO world heritage blah, and guide books petrified of bad-mouthing the place. However, during our first stroll through the old town, my partner turned and quipped with an eyebrow raise that I would have been proud of, 'This is like Pham Ngu Lao' (PNL is the backpacker nest of Saigon). Well, I couldn't disagree. The old houses were beautiful, until they opened up the front and turned them into DVD shops. The town caters for tourists in a mind boggling capacity -- huge groups of big nosed European tourists (I can say that because I am one myself) speaking a language I couldn't put a finger on (possibly Greek) kind of ruined the atmosphere. I can't begin to imagine what this little place would have looked like before the onslaught began. Fear not though, slowly but surely we were won over, as we became normalised to the tourist pollution and took a stroll down the riverside in the evening eventually stopping at one of the many outdoor cafes for a glass of wine. Very peaceful and relaxing. However, it was easy to spot the mid-morning timewasters in the cafes, lounging around as if they were Parisian artists during WW2. Hoi An though is pretty....
Nov 9, 2006
So, we leave the house and still the paparazzi wouldn't leave us alone.
I hope you got the general idea, plenty more pics of the 150 guests who eventually turned out, but they slot into the 'Nobody cares what you had for lunch' category as easily as a warm knife slides through flesh...no, sorry,.....I mean butter.
Today is my new wifes birthday, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY HONEY! Here is a picture of you doing what you do best, smiling!
Nov 4, 2006
The car brought me and my parents to the alley that leads to Chi's house, my helpers for the day followed up in a wagon behind. Traditionally, the groom brings eight trays laden with gifts for the brides family. Here's me and my guys lining up in the correct order - my parents first, then me, then the rest. The trays also had to arrive at the house in a certain order, so the most important two went to my brother and sister, stood behind me.
Next, the rings went on
Part 6 & 7 to follow this week.