The never-ending adventures of a travel writer in Vietnam, Cambodia, New Zealand and throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

From Gordon A. in Canada

I received this note today:

"I just spent two weeks in Mui Ne and by far the biggest (only) hassle of the place is constantly being harrassed by moto-taxi drivers. It would be nice to just go for a walk during the day or stagger back to my room after a night out with these buggers chasing me down the street. They have even waited outside Wax bar for me and insulted my female friend by asking how much she was charging for the "ride" home. Had it been at home I would have been obliged to do the manly thing and defend her honour. I would have destroyed the cheeky twerp. I met people in business renting scooters and motos, I vastly preferred getting around on my own. I am thinking of traveling the country by moto. but of course I would have to adjust my plans to return to Mui Ne and Phan Thiet. I simply will not submit to being harrassed by these clowns again."

Unfortunately our current situation with the police pulling over foreigners and confiscating motorbikes will probably only add to the frustration of visitors like Gordon...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thailand's Troubles - Vietnam's Gain?

Vietnam's tourism doesn't seem to be affected by the world economic downturn so far, but there's been a big looming question regarding what will happen after the holiday reservations have come and gone. Is the Thailand political situation--much like the terrible Tsunami--set to rescue Vietnam from what might otherwise be a very rough patch in the economy? I also just discovered that Siem Reap Airlines, a national airlines of Cambodia, just suspended all domestic and international flights indefinitely this week, the apparent result of an unrelated dispute with the EU. It might be even better for Vietnam if tourists have difficulty traveling in Cambodia.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Birthday Glimpses

Ruou Can in the dunes with friends.

A party at Tinh and Sabine's in Mui Ne (Ham Tien). They make fantastic jewelry with local stones.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Want to Help?

As of this year I have co-written or updated 5 of the world's top 10 guidebooks on Vietnam, and contributed to 2 other books on Indochina as well. It's been exciting running around and getting all the latest travel info for each edition, but I'm always happy for suggestions. If you've found information that is out-of-date in any guidebook that you happen to use, or have a suggestion/tip of your own, please feel free to post it here or send me an email. :-)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hidden Binh Thuan with Mr. Binh

I followed Binh, of Mr. Binh's Sahara Tours, up into the mountains to observe a "Buffalo Stabbing Festival" at a Chu Ru village this weekend, just across the border into Lam Dong Province.

Looking south to Binh Thuan Province.

A herd of water buffalo.

Bao Dai Falls from above.

Bao Dai Falls from below.

The ceremonial pole where the buffalo is tied when it is sacrificed.

Your can meet Mr. Binh at 81 Huynh Thuc Khang in Ham Tien (Mui Ne Beach) or call him at 098 929 7648.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Poor Service as Usual: WAKE UP Mui Ne Hotels!

I went to one of Mui Ne's largest and most well-known hotels twice this week to meet someone on official business. Both times the receptionist refused to help me by calling the person I came to meet or by leaving a message for that person--even though the person I wanted to meet works at the hotel. The receptionist did so purely out of laziness. When will these hotels learn? It's not like there are only half-a-dozen resorts in Mui Ne any more. There is serious competition on the beach, and hotels with terrible service are going to fail--no matter how well connected their owners may be to the government, mafia or some rich and powerful person--and deservedly so.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Announcing Fish Egg Tree Tours

Brought to you by and the co-author of numerous international guidebooks on Vietnam, Fish Egg Tree Tours is the only tour company exclusively covering Binh Thuan province with knowledgeable guides, fluent in English, who teach you about local history, culture & ecology. Unlike other local tour companies, we are not a mere taxi service! You will learn about Mui Ne, Phan Thiet and the surrounding area from your accompanying guide, and you will have fun doing it! tours include: 3 minorities in 1 day; eat your way around Phan Thiet; ancient temples of Phan Thiet; mountain trekking & nature hikes; sand dunes; Ta Cu Mountain and Khe Ga Lighthouse. Classes Include: minority handicrafts; cooking Phan Thiet delicacies. Custom tours available to suite every need. Please contact us or call 090.443.4895 for more information.

Theft by Open Tour Companies

I've received reports that some major Open Tour Bus companies servicing Mui Ne have told their customers that they can not sit with their valuables--that they must put them under the bus--then later parters of the bus attendants are going through their bags and robbing passengers. Likewise I've recently heard about customers falling asleep on the bus and getting robbed.

Never, under an circumstance, put your valuables(electronics, money, etc.) in the compartments under the bus. Any attendant that instructs you to do so is saying this with the sole intent of robbing you. This has never been standard practice in any company. Likewise, keep track of your valuables at all time. Don't fall asleep with valuables out of your reach.

In an unrelated matter, I've received report of another theft which was reported to local police, but the police refused to file a report out of sheer laziness-despite the fact that the victim had accurately collected the names, passport number, hotel and even flight information of the criminal! More information on this exceptional case soon...

The point being, if you do happen to get robbed, unfortunately you are on your own. The local police will not help you.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Flowers of Binh Thuan Province

In the Dry Season, much of coastal Binh Thuan Province is a desert wasteland. During the rainy season however, the desert blooms.

These flowers are commonly found growing up bushes and trees in the scrublands.

These flowers are found along the ground, typically at the base of other bushes.

I'm told the orange blooms of this flower are edible--and sweeter than sugar cane.

These fragrant flowers attract lots of flies and bees

On the inside, this wild fruit, which grows on mountain slopes, looks much like a longan, but on the outside, like a small orange. I've been given conflicting reports on whether it is edible or not.

This large flower grows plentifully on wooded hillsides.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Parties in Mui Ne

Admittedly I'm a party-pooper. I don't hang out at the backpacker bars and the kiteboarding hangouts. It's not why I'm here, and for me, it's not what Mui Ne/Phan Thiet is all about. But I recognize for that many tourists, it is the heart of their stay here.

Likewise, I'm not a fan of Halloween. However, I was curious about the parties some of the bars were putting on, and how much turn-out they might have. Wax had a great atmosphere, but the party at Pogo was most impressive--there was a packed crowd with great dance music. Wax would have been nice but I have two complaints--there's no food on the menu, and I don't like paying before I drink.

The Following Photos are from Pogo:

Fire Dancer at Wax:

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