Thursday, 16 June 2011

Good Evening VietNam

btw I am aware that the phrase is "Good Morning Vietnam" but I'm using a play on words to indicate my leaving and probably never going back.

The Vietnam trip was errmm.. well I would say a disaster but it was salvaged some what at a major cost.

When I initially thought of writing this blog everything was gonna be negative or a bit of a complaint, like the fact that alot of people in the international airport don't speak English. (I just thought, if a country will trade largely in US dollars - the US being an English speaking country- that they would have a basic level of proficiency in the language of trade. In fact you lose more money in Vietnam if you use Vietnamese Dong.) But then I thought it won't be balanced or particularly fair to Vietnam so instead, here are the things I liked about Ho Chi Minh City, interrupted by a few Dos and Don'ts.

Independence/Reunification Palace
Some people call it Independence Palace others, call it Reunification Palace. On maps (i.e.Google) it's called Reunification Palace but regardless of name it's one and the same. Do you're own research, its better when you feel you can connect with the story behind it.

Take a camera, you'll want to take many photos of this 1970s throwback. I've seen houses that my Grandfather built in Ghana in the 1970s, and walking into the Palace in HCMC, I can see the similarities. The Palace really is the epitomy of 1970s architecture and interior design. Even the rooms that are decorated and set up to look like they are from a time long before the establishment of the Palace, have a 1970s atmosphere.

You can't walk into any of the rooms (but one on the second floor) which kinda sucks but is expected, but you can still get some good photos.

Ben Thanh Market
Go here if you want to get souvenirs or Vietnamese coffee. It's got a bit of a whiff but they say that after you endure a smell for a couple minutes you can't smell it anymore, so when you get there take a deep breath, soak in the whiff and it won't bother you for the rest of the time.

These market people are hardcore grafters! Real hustlers. Do not attempt to barter with them if you're not afraid to screw them in price because, frankly, if you don't, they will.

Notre Dame/ Central Post Office
The Notre Dame is just another church. I liked it but I don't understand the actual attraction people have to churches apart from as a place of worship. I would've been happy to burst out into praise and song but I don't think the other tourists would have appreciated it.

Whats great about the Notre Dame is that you can appreciate it from every angle and it has this sort of central feel. It is right opposite the Central Post Office which sports a beautiful portrait of Ho Chi Minh high up at the end of the grand hall. The Post Office has two souvenir shops with all you'll need gift wise.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Home Sweet Home.

I'm home now.. and although I haven't put up posts about Cambodia or Vietnam in full, I will when I've resettled in the UK.

I'm happy to be with my family but I'm missing Singapore big time.. it's just a big contrast in every single way! Needless to say I would rather be out there than here.

Xie Xie Singapore. I will be back :)

Friday, 3 June 2011

Asian Art

So I took my friend to get herself her first tattoo.

She did it in a well respected tattoo parlour (Ink by Finch) in Singapore to, y'kno, avoid getting that Hep B etc. It's Thai writing meaning "There's always a reason"

If you are going to be in South East Asia DO NOT get a tattoo done at some party island in Thailand or random shop in Cambodia, Vietnam or Philippines. Just jump down to Singapore where you know rules are followed and things are clean. And if you cba to jump down to sg, then you cba to get a tattoo in South East Asia. You're also probably thinking impulsively and will end up regretting it for the rest of your life or convincing yourself that you aren't regretting it... for the rest of your life.

Yes it's all cool and yes there are many Maori descendants across South East Asia willing to do bamboo or needle tattoo but just be sensible. My little advice to you.

All Plane Journeys Should Be Like This. Lah.

Please play this YouTube video and have the music playing as you read =] :

I would like to share with you the best plane journey I've had. It would be my Phnom Penh to Singapore flight with JetStar. It was just really great. No babies but rather a couple dozen school kids from Bedok Secondary. They were on some school holiday trip thing for 5 days (to Cambodia?!!? I've clearly been attending the wrong schools!)

I won't lie when I first realised they would be on my plane I dreaded it. I thought they would be loud and unruly but they were rather the opposite. JetStar were nice enough to play "Hey Soul Sister" (sadly not the glee version) through the system and well, popular song + bunch of school kids = one thing - a big fat singalong... so there we all are sitting in the plane waiting for it to taxi to the runway and almost every passenger including myself, my Dutch friend and the Catalan woman from Barcelona sitting next to me were singing along.. especially at the "Hey-ey Hey-ey-ey-ey" part. I thought there was going to be a genuine T-mobile moment. Honestly. At that moment I was a bit gutted that I didn't have a phone with a good camera (like a BB, HTC or iPhone), it was truly a magical moment. 

And as if it couldn't get better, I managed to make progress on the Nollywood movie I'm writing, have a 15 minute nap, wake up to the sight of Singapore at night (currently, my favourite view in the whole world), and  have the schoolkids applaud the pilot upon safe landing. I mean who does that anymore?! No one, and that's the shame of it. Why don't we break into song on planes? Why are we so serious when we take our seats - so focused on falling asleep as soon as possible? And WHYYYY don't we applaud pilots anymore?!?! Or say a tiny little thank you prayer to God when we land? So much could go wrong with every journey. We all know who to blame when it does, but do we know who to thank when it doesn't?