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Monday, 29 December 2008

Mui Ne for Christmas

We escaped the city for a few days and couldn't get ourselves organised in time to go anywhere outside Vietnam so Mui Ne provided the perfect answer for a couple of days doing very little.

Saw a couple of sunrises:
Mui Ne Beach, December 08

Ate a couple of fish and fish friends:
Fish and fish relations

Drank a couple of beers at the latest incarnation of Hoa Vien Brewhouse:

Hoa Vien Brewery, Mui Ne

Found a couple of ruby slippers on a yellow brick road:

Follow the yellow brick road

Good beach, good fish, good beer. The flip flops didn't fit.

Put Your Hands Up

I've been trying to capture this practice for ages and finally got it.

Put your hands up

I award myself extra bonus points for there being two sheets of glass.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

On the up

Avid readers will know that our house has four floors.

Internal strairwell

You can count them. Last night we went to the roof with a bottle of wine and plans for a chilled evening in and found this...

Chrome spiral staircase 3

Chrome spiral staircase 2

Obviously I waited for daylight to photograph it because flash, chrome and me are an untried combination and the camera was on the ground floor.

It leads to the flat space where the water pump and air conditioner units live. I don't know why it's there, I don't know when it got there and I don't know what's coming next.

I'm off on holiday for a few days and slightly fear returning.

Monday, 22 December 2008

The mother ship has landed

Our quiet neck of the woods has been attracting little businesses for a while now. Corner stores, noodle shops and recently a couple of nice little cafes have arrived but nothing prepared me for the completion of Mori Cafe. It's a neon wonderland complete with DJ and multiple floors dedicating to getting the local populace all sugared up and doing a pretty successful job of it based on my one visit so far.

Neon Wonderland

I stayed on the ground floor watching the football and didn't stray up further but I'll be there soon.

Lotte mart and a big shiny cafe opening in the same week! How much excitement can I take?

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Inside Lotte Mart, Saigon

It opened! 33,400 square meters of shopping in District 7 less than ten minutes from where I stay. Of course I had to visit but I couldn't shake off the feeling that it was wrong to be excited, still a little guilt seasons pleasure.

It's a supermarket and shopping complex over three floors with a cinema, bowling and food outlets. It sells just about anything you could want from motorbike tyres to flat screen TVs and I know I've been here for a while now because I got bloody excited about it and had an absolute ball.

Alas the pictures are limited because the staff kept catching me with my camera and telling me "No pictures". They were firm and even a plaintive "But I'm going to blog it" cut no ice.

Lotte Mart Saigon Interior

I'll be back but next time I'll be a little more furtive with my photography.

Windows of Lotte Mart Saigon

Also on site is a branch of the Lotte franchised coffee outlet Angel-in-us. True to the company that brought us Lotteria "We Love Hamburger" we get a little splash of bad English with our drinks.
World Best Coffee

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

O'Brien's bar

O'Brien's Factory on Hai Ba Trung has a nice bar and the beer isn't bad either.

O'Brien's bar, Saigon

Monday, 15 December 2008

Christmas Cheer

As once again Saigon gears up to celebrate all things Santa and Baby Jesus related I find myself hanging outside places making "oooh" sounds and pointing stupidly at things. If I have a camera handy to point stupidly with I'll take a picture.

Last year the May Hotel went all out for a tin foil theme but this year not a scrap of it in sight. A mistake as far as I am concerned but still, they did provide us with a Baby Jesus in a sequined play suit nestled in a huge twinkling star.

Baby Jesus is a star


Kentucky Fried Welcome

KFC on Hai Bai Trung are gearing up for Christmas by making one of their employees dress in a Colonel Saunders outfit and hand out treats to children.

Kentucky Fried Welcome, Saigon

I've never eaten in KFC and oddly even this didn't tempt me in.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Shiny, Sparkly Things

I'm a practical shopper, I don't spend much on things unless I really need them or they're technologically perfect for my requirements. I compare prices and styles and make my mind up in a logical manner. I'm not swayed by designer labels or plush store interiors or over attentive retail staff.

Things have to be practical, I want to know I'll get good use out of them. Shoes have to be able to match a lot of outfits and not fall apart after a few wears.

Silver Shoes

Bollocks, I seem to have accidentally bought a pair of stupidly expensive silver flip flops. I can't imagine how that happened.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Street Food Images, Saigon

Dong Du, District 1, this area is a tourist hotspot and high end stores and hawkers selling fakes abound but side by side to street restaurants and temporary tables.
Dong Du Dining B&W

Banh Mi Mackerel, this brightly branded sandwich cart off Hai Bai Trung has caught my eye for a while but this is the first time I've been anywhere near it with a camera and with enough time to wait for a break in the traffic to capture it.

Fishy Banh Mi

Monday, 1 December 2008

Lotte Mart

Saigon is abuzz with excitement, ok, the Korean community is a bit excited and I am abuzz with excitement.

Lotte Mart Saigon, opening 18-12-08

HCMCs first fully modern "Western" style supermarket, except that's it's Korean so is it still Western? More reports from the wall of kim chee once it's open.

If mega-retailer investment in Vietnam is your thing there's a fairly interesting article here
and for a few more pictures of the interior taken since it opened go here

Nothing says Christmas like pumpkins

Dong Khoi is already gearing up for Christmas but initially I was confused.

Gucci Saigon at Christmas

Pumpkins? What's that all about, leftover Thanksgiving or Halloween decorations?
Still, they were popular with the "pick up the props for a photo opportunity crowd".

Pumpkins how Merry Christmas are these?

A little further along the frontage of this high end outlet and everything became clear.
Christmas in Saigon 2008
Cinderella, I should have guessed and yes, the manequins rotate.

There's a pumpkin coach too but I am going to wait to post pictures of that when I have pictures of it at night in all it's twinkling beauty.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Bikes I like

Brand new Attila Elizabeths coloured like cheap sweeties.
Three Scooters in Sweetie Colours

Why stick to the one theme when there are so many to choose from?
Leopard skin puma style

Purists may scoff but I love these old scooters all faffed up for today's modern motorbike driver.
Vintage Vespa and Lambretra scooters in fab shades

Here scooters are personal.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Fake Mexicans at the Opera House

Sunday the 9th of November, 8:30 am at the top of Le Loi on the steps of the Opera House I spied (well I could hardly miss them) people dressed in sombreros playing vaguely Latin American music. Who? Why? No idea but it fairly brightened up the morning for me.

Here they are from across the road the better to admire the newly refurbished Opera House.

Sunday Morning Concert, Saigon

Closer so you can fully appreciate the sombreros.
Mexican Impersonators, Saigon

For some reason windmill salesmen always get in on the act.

Windmills and Mexican Impersonators, Saigon

And since it's "nearly" Christmas the Santa baloons have been dusted off for another year.

Santa and Mexican Impersonators, Saigon

I was starting to think I was getting a little complacent about Vietnam, how wrong can you get?

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Ganesh Indian Restaurant, HCMC

Found on Le Than Thon a recently opened Indian Restaurant. (This was initialy written a long time ago, see the update at the bottom of this post for a more recent review)

Ganesh Restaurant, HCMC

The food is very good and I'm particularly taken by their thalis.

chicken tikka


Ganesh vies for first place on my list of favourite Indian restaurants in Saigon with Mumtaz in the backpacker area barely winning in the tase stakes but Ganesh wins hands down on the decor front.

Update Edit I've been feeling bad.
I recently had a look at the blog stats, not something I often do, and found that this post was the top hit. I have to come clean and admit that I stopped eating here a long time ago, around the time the dahl started to be sweet, the vegetable dishes started to be over salted and bland and the staff started saying "I'll talk to the chef" when I returned my inedible dishes and still put them on the bill. I tried the Phu My Hung outlet more than a few times, it was equally poor. I'm not saying Ganesh is bad, just that in my opinion it's become dumbed down and formulaeic and probably serving food that lots of people like, just not me. Mumtaz eventually won out for tasty, reliable food but has been surpassed now that Robin the long term manager of Mumtaz has set up his own Baba's Kitchen near the old place. Where do I eat now? Mumbai mainly, it's not a curry restaurant in HCMC but the city in India that I relocated to.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc. It's a Vietnamese island in the Gulf of Thailand just a few miles off the coast of Cambodia. It has clean beaches, warm waters, lovely scenery and incredible sunsets and you'd beter get yourself there now before the international airport the cruise ship docking facilities and the mega casino do.

Blue pool, blue sky, blue palms, Phu Quoc, Cassia Cottage

Sunset, Girls in Cone Hats on Phu Quoc

Short part of Long beach, Phu Quoc

A rainy day at Cassia Cottage, Phu Quoc

Cassia Cottage from the beach side

Sunset behind swimming pool, Cassia Cottage

A fifty minute flight from HCMC.

Sunday, 19 October 2008


A trip to Nguyen Trai today and for once I remembered to take my camera. I'm glad I did because I managed to track down the elusive ladybird motorbike helmets. I've seen them being worn but this is first time I've managed to photograph them in captivity.
Orange red ladybird helmet

Also available in blue:
Blue bug helmet for child or very misguided adult

Vietnamese shoes are wonders to behold, check out the ones below. Leopard skin fabric, gold spindly heel, equally golden platform sole, broad ankle strap and bloody huge faux jewel.

Leopard skin, gold, jewel, platform, heels

I'm prone to the odd fashion crime when it comes to shoes so there are times I'm relieved that my giant Western feet can't be forced into things like this.

While on the subject of shoes, you might think that Converse have a wide enough range of baseball boots and shoes to satisfy everyone. Not at all. They haven't considered the needs of the Glam Rock Seventies Revivalists.


Thanks to the Vietnamese knock off shoe industry their needs are satisfied.


ANZ bank have won a 99 year licence to offer full banking services in Vietnam. Full report here.

Good news for me because I use them already for banking and having more services available is always a good option.

Also good news because they have the best promotion and advertising in the form of Mobile Bankers who use liveried Vespas to visit customers at home to set up accounts and promote the bank's services.

ANZ Mobile Banker

My challenge is to get a picture of the live version.

Sunday, 21 September 2008


Nothing more interesting than a picture of a frog but I was particularly pleased to capture it so clearly.
Vietnamese tree frog

Hello Kitty Motorbike

Personalised motorbikes are big news. This is one of my favourites of recent times.

Hello Kitty Pink Motorbike

Hell-o. Note the tiny paw print on the back light.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Phu My Hung

The Vietnamese "city of tomorrow", clean and well designed it doesn't feel like Vietnam at all. Streets are broad and shaded and parks are planted between buildings and between roads.

Water garden at Garden Plaza, Phu My Hung

Roads are smoothly surfaced and often deserted.

Sunday afternoon, Phu My Hung

Shops and cafe's have sprung up all over the place with new ones opening regularly.

Co-op Citi up-mart

Phu My Hung, cafe society

It's a safe and clean environment particularly suited to families. The place would drive me up the wall.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

One, two, tree.

Tonight the frogs were lively and I happened to have a camera with me. There have been a lot more tree frogs around recently and I'm getting very fond of them.

Tree frog on bamboo

two tree frogs

I await three in one shot.