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Sunday, 25 May 2008

Vietnam standard of living index

No statistical information just two pictures indicating that there's more disposable income about, maybe a bit too much in some cases.

Forget fridges, the ultimate load on the motorbike now is the flat screen tv. Here I managed to capture two of the beasties on their way to their new homes.

Double delivery

It had to happen, the stretch limo has hit town.

Just what Saigon needs

This one was being featured as part of a prize outside Nguyen Kim electrical shop, where you'd go in it and how long it would take you is beyond me but you'd get a very comfortable seat to watch the traffic from.

Label Babel

I went to "Shoe Street" and snagged myself a pair of Clark's sandals and some pretty flip flops orignially destined for New Look. Choice of shoes isn't something I've had recently so I bought all that fitted including a pair of gold shoes which I suspect may never see the light of day. Not all the goods are genuine of course, you have to be careful otherwise you're going to end up looking pretty silly.

Shoe Street Knock Offs

"Watch the Nem Levi's Commercial, Cong Away Sin". Indeed.

Mistranslations always appeal to me and in the marvelously named "Fashion Monkey" Stephen got a nice t-shirt with an even nicer label

Label babel

Of course I was too big for all the female clothes, but what do I care, I got shoes!

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Rotten Narrow Table Ox Depository revisited

Viking Restaurant, Phu My Hung

It'a been a while since I blogged some random images of things that tickle me so I'll rectify that now. I still haven't eaten here but at least I now know that oop-la is fried egg.

Striding Out

Building is everywhere, sites are usually surrounded by drab green corrugated steel walls but this one near Pham Ngu Lau is particularly colourful.

Usual Load

Everything becomes normal after a while, see how normal five big boxes on a motorbike look.

But neatly packaged incense is pretty eyecatching.

inscense load

And these guys are soon to become an extinct breed as the city authorities are banning them in the near future. If you want the thrill of an exhaust packed trip through traffic on a cyclo in HCM you'd better get a move on.

Catch them while you can

Finally, we bought ourselves a motorbike, well a scooter really, it has elements of a Barbie Bike about it but it's not a
Super Best Fairy
Piaggio Super Best Fairy. I would have been tempted just by the name.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Helmets plus

Some time ago I posted a short critique on Ho Chi Minh helmets. At the time I was short of a few pictures but recently I've been travelling tourist class with my camera out snapping at random. So far I've managed to capture:

The wide brimmed helmet complete with hearts and flowers stickers which instantly turn a safety item into a desireable fashion accessory.

Wide brimmed helmet

I also got the full helmet cosy, an alternative to the helmet skirt, this covers the crown of the helmet too and produces a bonnet effect. Maybe I should get one.

Helment cosy close

You can also see the full lower face/neck mask usually supplemented by a small face mask worm over the top.

On a traffic note, here's a picture of something I think is going to grow to obessional levels with me, the Vietnamese prediliction for personlising their bikes; Pimp My Moto 1

Pimp my ride 1
Animal print is always so classy.

Goals, to get pictures of people in matching Pimp My Helmets and Pimp My Motos

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Crunchy Collons

I tried a new snack food because I couldn't resist the name. Strawberry Collons


Also avaiable in chocolate and cream flavours. Indeed they do look a little like small sections of colon.

Pile of Collons

The wafer shell is very light and crisp and the filling is slightly gritty but not in a distasteful way and tastes more pink than strawberry but I'm assured they're made with real strawberry juice. They're quite nice if a little oversweet for my taste but I'd eat collon again.

Collon biscuit

Here you can see the ridged texture of the shell and a bit of my mustard sofa and seventies type wall units (soon to be a thing of the past if plans work out).

If you live in the UK and want to experience collon yourself they're available from CyberCandy who also offer the supreme Double Chocolate Collon and the Choco Puff Collon. Treat yourself

Friday, 2 May 2008

Holiday Travel

We joined the world traveler set and got ourselves an open tour ticket from Saigon - Mui Ne - Dalat - Nha Trang, a trip of around 700km at a cost of $15 each. There are several buses that do these tickets but we opted for An Phu travel which we booked through the TNK Office on De Tham who offered the times that suited us best.

I've read long tirades about the open tour buses but generally I found this a good way to get around with a few provisos. First of all we were promised "We garanteed all buses are A/C, brandnew with more leggsroom". They're not, they don't and they haven't. However they all left around the time they were meant to and arrived where they were meant to nearly on schedule.

I didn't get any pictures of the first bus we were one which was a pity because it was half sleeping bus, half sitting. I snagged a horizontal seat once we'd spent an hour tootling around Backpacker District picking up stray passengers and snoozed most of the way to Mui Ne only fully waking up when our driver got particularly enthusiastic with the brakes.

On arrival the tour buses operators will try to sell you a room in one of their hotels or trips during your stay but you're not held captive, there are options.
  1. Pre book your hotel (or say you have) and after a while the bus will take you to the door of your accommodation
  2. Have a look at what they have to offer, it might not be so bad after all
  3. Jump a Xe Om, get a Taxi or walk to where you're going

We chose option 1 and had a cold beer in their affiliated cafe for half an hour and watched the world do very little indeed

Mid-day snooze

We confirmed our travel the day before we left and our next trip to Dalat was in a less attractive bus without air conditioning unless you count open windows.

Open Tour Bus

On the HCMC to Mui Ne route there was a stop at a petrol station to pee and buy fruit and snacks, there aren't any such facilities on the way to Dalat but they did manage a scenic stop to cool the bus and stretch your legs on the way.

Bus Stop

Look carefully, you should be able to see the extra brake. The scenery was outstanding on the way and made up for the bus being a bit on the rough side. When we arrived we opted for a taxi the quicker to get a shower and wash the dust off.

The Dalat Mui Ne run was in a little Mercedes Ben - not a typo.

Mercedes Ben

Which was comfortable and well driven and, after essential repairs, got us into Nha Trang in three hours.

Wheel be back

Roadside repairs

So Open Buses, not a bad way of getting around, I'd happily use them again, just remember it isn't always exactly what it says on the tin.